There are many different types of migraine prevention available today. When most people think of migraine, they might think only about taking over the counter painkillers. But these painkillers are not always the best answer for migraine, and may actually end up doing more harm than good. In fact, many types of migraine prevention don't involve drugs at all! Let's take a quick look at some of your options, and we'll link to more information if you want to investigate a little deeper.
Migraine prevention - General lifestyle
This is the one nobody really wants to hear. We would all love to get rid of migraine without making other changes to our daily lives. Still, this is one of the most powerful migraine preventatives that there is, and so we can't ignore it. What would this include? Probably a lot of the things your Mom told you about...
- Getting proper exercise (read about how exercise can help, from someone who has suffered from migraine)
- Eating a well balanced, low fat diet, low in processed foods and high on whole grains, fruits and vegetables (specific diet tips)
- Good posture, and avoiding a lot of repetitive motion or standing/sitting for long periods of time (recommended reading)
- Avoiding some of those habits you're always warned about, like smoking (a big problem with migraineurs) and too much alcohol (which can be a migraine trigger)
Ok, those are all the things you didn't want to hear about. But not only can these prevent your migraine attacks, they can also help you cope better when you get one, and help you sleep better. Rather than taking on the whole list and making 27 New Years resolutions, why not just choose one small way you can improve over the next month?
Migraine prevention - Triggers
Triggers are those things that start the migraine chain reaction. It's believed by some that it actually takes a combination of things to really get a migraine going, which may be why a certain trigger usually causes a migraine, but not always. Triggers are different for everyone, and they can include things like...
Stress is considered by some to be a trigger, though the direct link to migraine has been questioned. Still, it does seem to lower your resistance. The other debate is whether or not you should actually avoid triggers. Does it really help, or does it simply lower your resistance in the future? Well, many migraineurs have found that cutting a trigger out of their lives means a significant improvement.
- Food triggers (such as aged cheese, alcohol, chocolate, yeast, and aged meats) (more food triggers here)
- In women, hormonal changes, such as menstruation, pregnancy and changes due to HRT (more on hormonal migraine)
- Changes in your daily schedule(especially sleeping patterns)
- Weather (especially changes in barometric pressure)
- Smells or fumes (such as fresh paint, perfume and cleaning supplies)
But how do you discover your triggers? One way is to try cutting themout of your life, one or two at a time. The other way is to keep a detailed migraine diary, and a diary of your life - what you eat, drink, feel, do, etc. Then check to see what has happened 1-2 days before the attack.
More about migraine prevention by identifying migraine triggers.
Migraine prevention - supplements and natural treatment
There are many other ways people have found to cut back on the frequency and severity of their migraine attacks. Forexample, many people have found that regular chiropractic treatment is excellent migraine prevention. Massage and active release therapy are all helpful for some people for all kinds of chronic pain.
Herbs and supplements are a common treatment, some very well proven over time. One of the most accepted is the herb feverfew, which, when taken regularly has helped many people. Other herbs include peppermint, and, recently in the news for it's potential migraine-fighting power, butterbur extract. For more on herbs for migraine, check here.
There are other food and supplement related treatments, such as magnesium supplements, DLPA, coenzyme Q10 and melatonin.
Migraine prevention - drug options
Although many of the ideas above may improve your life dramatically, many of us still need to move on to a drug solution. In the past few years, more and more research has been done to find drugs that can target your migraine and keep it from rearing its ugly head. These drugs are usually taken daily, and can decrease both the frequency and severity of your attacks.
Some of these drugs are more powerful than others, and some have the potential to cause more side effects. This is why your doctor will probably suggest certain treatments first, depending on your medical history. Some common migraine prevention drugs include:
There are others as well - check out a longer list with descriptions and links to more information.
- Calcium Channel Blockers
Migraine prevention - why bother?
Some of you may be wondering why you should go to all this trouble. Why not just pop a painkiller in your mouth when a migraine attack hits?
For some people, migraine prevention (in particular the drug options) may not be needed. If your migraine attacks are rare or mild, or an abortive drug (taken when the attack starts) is very effective, it may not be worth it.
However, if the migraine is interfering with your life in a big way, it would be wise to start investigating options. Many people have gone from several attacks a month to few or none. What a difference that would make! Also, there is growing evidence that migraine attacks may not just be a temporary inconvenience - they may be doing lasting damage to your body. And that's something you don't want to ignore.
If you've tried migraine prevention before and haven't had success, don't give up! There are more and more options out there. Many people find that just a slight change, a different drug, or a different combination can make all the difference. Just try one thing at a time and keep up with the latest new developments.
There are some great ways to keep up with the research right here! Be sure to look around the website for more information. For the latest news and tips, head on over to the Headache and Migraine News Blog. Or to have articles with tips and news delivered right to your inbox every month, sign up for the free e-zine, HeadWay. All the best in your fight against migraine!