WHAT IS A MIGRAINE?
A migraine headache is a form of vascular (blood vessels) headache. Migraine headaches are caused by a combination of vasodilatation (enlargement of blood vessels) and the release of chemicals from nerve fibers that coil around the blood vessels. During a migraine attack, the temporal artery enlarges. (The temporal artery is an artery that lies on the outside of the skull just under the skin of the temple. ) Enlargement of the temporal artery stretches the nerves that coil around the artery and causes the nerves to release chemicals. The chemicals cause inflammation, pain, and further enlargement of the artery. The increasing enlargement of the artery magnifies the pain.
The above results in periodic attacks of headaches on one or both sides of the head. These may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity of the eyes to light (photophobia) with visual disturbance and flashes (aura), increased sensitivity to sound (phonophobia), dizziness, blurred vision, cognitive disturbances, and other symptoms. Some migraines have these symptoms but do not include headache, and migraines may or may not be preceded by an aura.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TENSION HEADACHE AND A MIGRAINE?
The difference between a migraine headache and a tension headache is that while a tension headache involves the muscles and fascia of the scalp and neck tightening and causing pain, a migraine involves a large chemical change that affects the entire body. Blood vessels in the brain become wider, serotonin is lowered, and nerves misfire – causing severe pain – along with a host of other symptoms like those mentioned above that usually do not occur in non-migraine headaches.
HEADACHE vs . MIGRAINE
Headache Duration – Hours to days
Migraine Duration – 4 to 72 hours
Headache Location – Over the entire head
Migraine Location – Often one-sided but not always
Headache Pain Intensity – Mild to moderate
Migraine Pain Intensity – Often Severe
Nature of Headache – Dull, pressing
Nature of Migraine – Pounding, throbbing, increases with activity
Other symptoms of Headache – Minimal to none
Other symptoms of Migraine – Nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, sound and odors.
WHAT CAN CAUSE A MIGRAINE?
When the temperature climbs, so does the likelihood of developing a migraine or other severe headache. In one recent study, researchers found a 7. 5% increase in headache risk for every 9 degrees Fahrenheit. Low barometric pressure, which often precedes rain, was linked to a small bump in non-migraine headaches.
Strong smells — even nice ones — trigger migraines in many people. Why this happens is unclear, but the odors may stimulate the nervous system. The most common culprits are paint, dust, perfume, and certain types of flowers.
Cheese – One of the most common migraine triggers is aged cheese, including blue cheese, brie, cheddar, feta, mozzarella, parmesan, and Swiss. These foods contain tyramine which can cause a migraine. Red wine and some alcoholic drinks also contain tyramine.
Cold cuts and processed meat – These contain both tyramine and nitrates which can also affect many migraine sufferers.
Caffeine – Though caffeine is found in many headache medications, it is actually a cause of rebound headaches though it is difficult for people who are used to consuming large amount of caffeine to withdraw from it, doing so can significantly reduce migraine frequency and intensity.
Wheat (bread, pasta, etc . )
Nuts and peanuts
* Includes skim or whole cow’s milk, goat’s milk, cheese, yogurt, etc .
** Includes beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, etc .
Certain beverages and additives – These can be particularly bad and include alcoholic beverages (especially red wine), caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, and colas), monosodium glutamate, aspartame (NutraSweet), and nitrites.
A summary of triggers include stress, sleep disturbances, fasting, hormones, bright or flickering lights, odors, cigarette smoke, alcohol, aged cheeses, processed meats, chocolate, monosodium glutamate, nitrites, aspartame, and caffeine. For some women, the decline in the blood level of estrogen during the onset of menstruation is a trigger for migraine headaches.
WHAT LIFESTYLE CHANGES CAN HELP?
Making a few minor changes in your lifestyle can make your migraines more bearable. Improving sleep habits is important for everyone, and especially those with headaches. What you eat also has a huge impact on migraines, so dietary changes can be extremely beneficial, too.
Avoiding Food Triggers. – (See triggers above)
Eating A Healthy Diet – One study indicated that a low in fat/ high complex carbohydrate diet may significantly reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of migraine headaches.
Eating Regularly – Eating regularly is important to prevent low blood sugar. People with migraines who fast periodically for religious reasons might consider taking preventive medications.
Consuming Fish Oil – Some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil, have anti-inflammatory and nerve protecting actions. These fatty acids can be found in oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, or sardines. They can also be obtained in supplements of specific omega-3 compounds (DHA-EPA).
Drinking Plenty Of Water. – Even if you don’t feel thirsty, you can still be dehydrated. Dehydration is thought to play a role in over 50% of all migraines. Drinking an 8 ounces glass of water every hour or so, can really help with migraine frequency and intensity.
Aerobic Exercise – Exercise relieves stress. Low impact, moderate exercise has been shown to help prevent migraines. Walking, hiking, treadmill or elliptical machines are good choices. Remember to warms up and not do anything to suddenly or vigorously..
Behavioral Treatments – Many neurologists who specialize in treating migraine patients recommend behavioral techniques that reduce stress and help patients to identify it. Research indicates between 35 – 50% reduction in migraine and tension-type headaches with these techniques generally including: biofeedback therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques.
Avoiding Oral Contraceptives – Oral contraceptives (OCs) have been associated with worse headaches in 18 – 50% of women and have also been linked to a higher risk for stroke in women with classic migraines (with auras). This is due to the hormonal modulation that these kinds of drugs cause.
WHY DOES YOUR PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS WORK AGAINST YOU?
Many migraine suffers use either prescription medicines like triptans (i. e. Immitrex, Zomig) or over the counter medications many of which contain caffeine. When these medications are consistently used many times a week they actually cause significantly more migraines to happen, even though they may help the current migraine at hand.
Many prescription drug users will find the need to take more of the drug in a day or two because they think the migraine they had returned, when in fact it is a new migraine. THIS IS REFERRED TO AS MEDICATION-OVERUSE HEADACHE (MOH) and this problem is rampant, especially in chronic migraine sufferers. It is very important for migraine sufferers to be aware of their MOH problem because it stops them from responding to preventive techniques and medicines. PREVENTING A MIGRAINE IS A MUCH BETTER OPTION THAN TRYING TO TREAT ONE AFTER IT HAS OCCURRED.
WHAT EFFECT DOES PMS HAVE ON MIGRAINES AND FREQUENCY IN SOME WOMEN?
As previously mentioned under the contraceptive pills section, the changes in hormonal balance that occurs during various stages of the menstrual cycle can have a large impact on the occurrence of migraines. 18-50% of women report that there is a menstrual component to their migraines. An all natural preventive supplement like MigreLief-M which addresses many of the causes of migraines as well as the symptoms of PMS is the perfect choice for women who experience “Menstrual Migraine”.
CAN MIGRAINES BE PREVENTED NATURALLY?
A combination of Magnesium, Riboflavin and Puracol Feverfew have been known to reduce the symptoms and severity of migraines and often prevent them completely. Each individually has been known throughout the world for its positive impact on migraines for various reasons. Consumed together they are most likely to address the problem. A product called MigreLief contains all three at highly effective levels proven effective in clinical studies. (Two forms of Magnesium, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), and Puracol(TM)–a proprietary source of the herb Feverfew. )
HOW IS MAGNESIUM RELATED TO MIGRAINE PREVENTION?
The benefits of Magnesium are well documented. Studies show that Magnesium deficiency may be linked with migraines. Magnesium helps keep the blood vessels in the brain properly toned and open, prevents the spasm of arteries, stabilizes cell membranes, and prevents platelet aggregation.
HOW IS RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2) RELATED TO MIGRANE PREVENTION?
Riboflavin is involved in energy production in every cell, and studies suggest it can have a dramatic benefit. A deficiency of cellular energy has been observed in some people with migraines, and Riboflavin can help correct that deficiency.
WHAT IS PURACOL(TM) FEVERFEW AND HOW IS IT RELATED TO MIGRAINE PREVENTION?
Feverfew is a traditional medicinal herb that has been safely used for centuries in Europe by migraine sufferers. Puracol Feverfew is a combination of a proprietary Feverfew extract PLUS a proprietary source of the whole