You know that uncomfortable feeling you get when you hear sharp fingernails scrape down a blackboard? How about when you’re stuck on a 12-hour flight seated right next to a baby that’s been wailing for hours on end? Or when you move houses and they’ve just begun construction on your street, so you’re faced with long periods of listening to pounding hammers and buzzing electric drills?
All these experiences and sounds most likely leave you feeling pretty irritated and frustrated, right? Well, there’s one thing that’s even more annoying than these; one thing that’s not only frustrating and irritating, but also often highly unpredictable.
What is it? Suffering from chronic migraines.
If you’ve ever experienced a chronic migraine before, you’re likely familiar with the paralyzing feeling of pain coupled with the inability to think and function properly. Other common symptoms include:
- “Foggy” vision or the appearance of light flashes or blind spots
- Mood swings
- Changes in appetite or thirst
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Fatigue or restlessness
If you’ve experienced some of these early warning signs, it’s important you become aware of measures you can take to help prevent the migraine from happening altogether. Here’s a list of 5 proven and effective steps you can follow to prevent a migraine from occurring:
Say No to That Extra Cup o’ Joe
Caffeine has been known to be a common trigger for headaches and migraines, so while it’s not good to quit cold turkey (as this may induce symptoms as well), it’s important to begin limiting your caffeine intake to approximately 1-2 cups per day and slowly reducing this amount to little or no caffeine over time.
Manage Your Stress Levels
With constant pressure from family, work and other responsibilities, maintaining low stress levels can seem difficult and sometimes next to impossible. However, as stress has been shown to be a major cause or underlying factor in many related illnesses, it is of the utmost importance that you develop a specific practice to ensure appropriate stress management.
Some common techniques include deep breathing, meditation, yoga and light exercise. Speaking regularly with supportive friends as an outlet to “let off steam,” planning fun nights out for you to look forward to and setting aside alone time for you to think and reflect can also be very effective techniques to help with stress reduction.
Stay Clear of Common Trigger Foods
Specific foods and chemical additives have been known to increase the likelihood and instance of migraines and should be avoided if possible. Some of these include: tyramine (found in alcohol, aged cheese and processed meat), monosodium glutamate or MSG (found in Chinese food), foods that have been heavily processed including soft drinks, baked goods and pizza.
Develop a Natural Rhythm
Although it may seem next to impossible to maintain a regular schedule for eating, sleeping and exercise, it’s important that you develop a balanced and regular routine in ensuring migraine mediation and prevention. Setting fixed hours for your daily activities puts your body on a regular schedule which is beneficial in creating more balance, normalizing hormone levels and overall well-being.
Magnesium, Co-Q10 and Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) have been shown to help minimize or improve the likelihood of migraine reduction and prevention.
While these nutrients and vitamins can be found in supplements that can be taken daily, it’s easy to incorporate them into your daily diet. You just need to eat foods that contain them. The following foods contain the nutrients you need to potentially reduce or prevent migraines.
- Dark chocolate
- Leafy greens, including collard greens and kale
- Low-fat milk
- Green vegetables, including asparagus, broccoli, and spinach
- Bread and other fortified grain products
Co-Q10 (Coenzyme Q)
- Organ meats, or meat that’s made from the heart, kidneys, and liver of animals
- Pork and chicken
- Fatty fish, like trout, herring, and mackerel
- Vegetables, including cauliflower and broccoli
- Legumes of any kind
- Nuts and seeds
- Oils, particularly soybean and canola
Although there is no specific “cure” for migraines, implementing these practices can aid in prevention and will ultimately help you live a fuller, more balanced lifestyle! And, with the right treatment or prevention approach, you may see a difference in your migraines. Make sure to always discuss any changes with your doctor to ensure you’re in the best possible health.