Dealing with a Migraine

by April Reinhardt
(last updated September 5, 2008)

It's morning. Showered, dressed, full of breakfast and out the door, you begin your day. As the morning slips into afternoon, you notice that you're becoming unusually irritable and tired. You're thirsty, drowsy, and are craving something sweet. Just before dinner, while watching TV, you become slightly lightheaded, see a few sparkling flashes of light in your vision, and develop a slight headache. Twenty minutes later, you abruptly excuse yourself from the table, holding your pounding head in your shaking hands, and get sick in the bathroom.

You're experiencing the headache of all headaches—a migraine.

While there are many forms of migraine headaches, the two most common are classic and common. The main difference between the two is onset of headache with an aura; dazzling zigzag lines, sparkling lights, and colorful flashes of fireworks in your field of vision. Classic migraines begin with pain and an aura. With common migraines, the sufferer develops a pounding headache, usually on one side of the head, spreading sometimes to the eye and jaw areas.

Health professionals agree that there may be certain circumstances that trigger migraines. Some of those triggers could be:

  • Infrequent eating and fasting
  • Sleep pattern changes
  • Loud noises, unusual odors, or bright lights
  • Hormonal changes
  • Food triggers such as nuts, strong cheese, processed meats, artificial sweeteners, and citrus foods

While in the throes of a migraine, it doesn't matter to you which kind of migraine you have, or what triggers it. What matters is getting fast relief. If you've had a migraine episode before, you know what precedes it, so you know what to expect. If you know a migraine is coming, following these tips may help ease the pain and shorten the length of the headache:

  • Use an over-the-counter medicine such as Excedrin Migraine, Extra Strength Tylenol, or Aleve.
  • Lie down in a quiet, dark room.
  • Apply a cold washcloth to your head.
  • Drink a soda containing caffeine, or a cup of strong caffeinated coffee.
  • Use relaxing massage techniques and gently massage your head, neck, face, and shoulders.
  • If your doctor has prescribed drug therapy, take the recommended dosage at the onset of your migraine.

Determining what triggers your migraines, and avoiding those triggers, can lessen their frequency. If you know a migraine is developing, take immediate action to stop the migraine or shorten the duration of it. If you have continued and frequent migraines, see your doctor for more ways to manage your migraines.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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