Migraine Prevention

Many people who suffer from frequent migraine headaches would do almost anything to find a way to avoid them. Migraines can be debilitating and very painful, impeding one’s ability to carry on with normal daily functions.

Even though the actual causes of migraines, headaches and other forms of head pain are not always well understood, you can take steps to avoid the triggers that can bring on migraine symptoms.

Reducing the Likelihood of Migraines

The first step to migraine prevention is recognizing your warning signs. For some people, migraine headaches are preceded by a collection of sensations, called an “aura.” Auras tend to occur about ten minutes to an hour before the onset of severe migraine symptoms like headaches and nausea. An aura can involve:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Strange visual sensations, like flashing lights
  • Tingling and numbness in the hands and face

If you sometimes feel these sensations and they tend to be followed by migraines, consider your environment during these times and the recent events of your day. Have you been exposed to stressful situations, strong odors or bright flashing lights? What foods have you recently eaten? Some foods such as aged cheese, chocolate and processed meats and beverages with alcohol and caffeine can trigger migraines.

Keep a record of the events preceding your migraines and headaches. These records can later help you identify patterns that you may not have noticed at the moment.

Effective Migraine Prevention

Migraine prevention often requires a heightened awareness of your surroundings and the subtle relationships between causes and events. Migraines and their triggers don’t always occur in close consecutive order, and some migraines are already on the way hours or days before you even begin to feel symptoms.

Up to 24 hours in advance, some people begin to experience the unexplained mood swings or food cravings that can precede a migraine. This slow onset can make it difficult to precisely identify migraine triggers. However, careful observation and accurate records can help you spot emerging patterns. Once you begin to recognize your triggers, you can work to avoid them. Your doctor can also make use of this information in the development of your treatment plan.

Resources

Heering, J. (2011). Recognizing your migraine trigger will save you a migraine attack. Retrieved January 12, 2011 from http://www.headache-migraine-release.com/migraine-trigger.html

Mayo Clinic. (2010). Migraine basics. Retrieved January 6, 2011 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/migraine-headache/DS00120