How To Treat Migraines

How To Treat Migraines

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who experience migraines, you know just how much they can interfere with your life. They can make it difficult to work, think clearly, or even take care of simple everyday chores. 

In some cases, migraines can become chronic, leading to significant pain and disability. The good news is that various effective treatment options are available to help relieve the pain and other symptoms of migraines.

What is a Migraine?

A migraine is a severe headache that affects one side of the head and can manifest as throbbing or pulsing pain. A migraine headache can last up to three days and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

Research shows that approximately 1 in 6 American adults experience migraines, with women being twice as likely to develop migraines as men.

Treating Migraine Pain with Medication

Medications are the first line of treatment against migraines. Depending on the severity and frequency of your migraine attacks, there are a variety of different medications that can help manage symptoms of migraines. Some people find relief with over-the-counter pain medications, while others require prescription-strength medications.

Abortive medications

As the name suggests, abortive medications are taken at the first sign of a migraine headache to stop it from progressing into a full-blown migraine attack or, at the very least, reduce its impact. Some common abortive medications for migraine treatment include over-the-counter pain relievers and some prescription medications like triptans.

Preventive medications

Preventive medications are commonly prescribed for people with chronic migraines to prevent migraine attacks from occurring in the first place. They include beta-blockers, antidepressants, calcium channel blockers, and anticonvulsants.

Non-Medication Treatments for Migraine Relief

In addition to medications, self-care tips can go a long way in managing or preventing migraine symptoms. They include: 

Getting enough sleep:  If you suffer from migraines, it’s important to get regular, consistent sleep, as sleep deprivation is one of the leading migraine triggers. Most experts recommend seven to eight hours of sleep every night.

Reducing stress: Stress can trigger or aggravate migraine attacks. As such, it goes without saying that learning to manage your stress levels can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of your headache attacks. Standard stress-reduction techniques include exercise and relaxation therapies such as deep breathing techniques, meditation, and massage.

Avoiding triggers: Many people have specific triggers that can bring on a migraine attack. Common triggers include certain foods, bright lights, and loud noises. Keeping a migraine diary can help you identify your triggers so that you can avoid them in the future. It’s also advisable to avoid alcohol, stimulants, and illicit drugs, as these can also trigger migraines. 

Heat/cold therapy: Applying a heating pad on the head and neck or taking a hot bath can help reduce muscle stiffness and soothe migraine headaches. Others find that cold showers or applying a cold compress can have the same effect. Choose what works for you.

The Takeaway 

While there is no cure for migraines, there are several proven treatments that may help reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. Medications, lifestyle changes, and stress management techniques can all help prevent or relieve migraine symptoms. If you experience frequent, severe migraines, it’s essential to work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that is right for you.

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