Types Of Headaches Migraine Headaches Prevention

Changes in lifestyle and behavior patterns can significantly lower the frequency and severity of migraines in some people. Stress management, relaxation techniques, and cognitive behavioral therapy don’t work for all people for migraine prevention. However, these techniques can be pursued without fear of unwanted side effects. Diet can be an important contributor to migraine headache frequency. Maintaining a migraine diary to help identify triggers is often the first step in a migraine prevention program.

The Migraine Headache Diary

Cognitive behavioral therapy requires you to keep a migraine diary. A migraine diary can help identify headache triggers. While some triggers, such as weather, are out of the individual’s control, diet, stress, and sensory triggers can be avoided or minimized.

In the diary you note when and where you experience migraines, your daily activities, the foods that make up your normal diet, the weather conditions, possible migraine triggers, periods of stress or tension and what caused them, and any other information that might relate to your headaches. Women should also include information about their menstrual cycle. Then you and your therapist devise lifestyle and behavior modifications that will reduce the frequency and severity of your headaches.

Stress Management and Migraine Headaches

Woman practicing deep breathing exercises.

Stress is one of the most common migraine triggers. Stress management techniques are readily available online, through self-help books or educational seminars. By reducing stress levels, many individuals also reduce muscle tension in the neck and shoulder area, which can both aggravate and cause headaches.

Meditation and Relaxation Techniques

Deep breathing exercises, visualization, meditation, and other relaxation techniques can all be used to combat stress and relax tense muscles. Most of these techniques can be practiced anywhere. Meditation can be as simple as slowly counting breaths, or visualizing relaxing, pain-free images. All such techniques are intended as preventive measures.

Study: Prevent Migraines with Acupuncture

According to researchers at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, acupuncture is just as effective and drug therapy in preventing migraines. The researchers also discovered that traditional Chinese acupuncture in which needles are inserted into specific “energy meridians” was no more effective than sham acupuncture in which needles are inserted into non-traditional areas. So as far as migraine prevention is concerned acupuncture is acupuncture and it’s all good!

Migraine Prevention Through Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a system where you learn to control bodily functions generally thought to be involuntary. Monitoring devices are attached to the individual, who then learns to alter the readings through relaxation, controlled breathing, and calm concentration. Biofeedback can teach individuals how to ease tense muscles, reducing the chances of migraines.

Autogenic suggestions are similar to biofeedback in that they attempt to modify the body’s involuntary physical responses. An important aspect of behavior modification, an autogenic suggestion is a statement, repeated often, that slowly changes how a person reacts to things. For instance, the statement might be “My muscles relax when they feel tense.” In effect, autogenic suggestions act like hypnosis, offering suggestions to the unconscious mind. Making healthful modifications to habitual or automatic responses to stress is an important aspect of migraine prevention.

The Migraine Headache Diet

Because dietary triggers are so individualized, no one diet is a sure method of migraine prevention. You can increase your resistance by eating a healthy diet and eating at regular intervals. Avoid common food triggers such as foods containing sulfites, nitrates, or nitrites as a preservative, the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG), and caffeine. Track what you eat in a migraine diary and avoid those foods that act as triggers.

NTI: Relief Through Dentistry?

The FDA recently approved the use of the NTI suppression system for migraine prevention. The NTI is a small removable device, worn during sleep, which prevents the jaw muscles from contracting. Migraine sufferers often clench their jaw muscles more than other people during sleep, resulting in excessive amounts of muscle tension. An NTI needs to be custom-built by a dentist, a procedure that requires a dental appointment.

Resources

Primack, D.