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The Migraine Relief Center is honored to have our blog listed as one of the best headache and migraine blogs of 2019 by Healthline, the fastest growing health information site on the internet. 

Healthline.com provides users expert content to support and guide them toward the best health outcomes for them and their families. Recently, Healthline.com honored a short list of health blogs about migraine and headaches. Included on the list are such luminaries as the National Headache Foundation and the American Migraine Foundation. 

We are pleased and proud to be considered one of the best migraine and headache blogs and pledge to continue to give you the best guidance and information about migraines in the future.


Thank you, Healthline.com, for the recognition and congratulations to everyone on the list. We all work together to bring migraineurs cutting edge treatment information and quality of life.

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Good news for those of you who suffer from cluster headaches. On June 4,  the FDA announced it has approved Galcanezumab, sold as Emgality by Eli Lilly and Co., for the treatment of episodic cluster headaches.


Cluster headaches, as the name implies, occur in clusters, perhaps at the same time of day or several times a day, for weeks or months. They produce terrible pain as well as stress from knowing another will occur later. Each headache can last from 15 minutes to three hours.

Emgality reduces the frequency of the attacks. In clinical trials, patients taking the drug experienced 8.7 fewer weekly cluster headache attacks as they did before taking the drug. Those on a placebo experienced 5.2 fewer attacks.

Galcanezumab is self-injected by the patient and was originally approved by the FDA in September of 2018 for the treatment of migraines in adults.

Read more about Galcanezumab (Emgality), and if you have any questions or wonder if this treatment could be for you, contact us. We are happy to help.

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Migraines are co-morbid with several other conditions, including hypothyroidism. But can migraines actually cause the disease? While rare, it seems that they may.

Migraines can both be caused by stress and cause stress; and stress affects the entire body, especially endocrine function. Therefore, a connection between migraines and hypothyroidism is not out of the realm of possibility.

Hypothyroidism Defined

The thyroid is a bow tie or butterfly-shaped gland in the neck just beneath the vocal cords. It secretes two essential hormones related to healthy bodily functions: thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These are two of the hormones that control core body temperature, protein production, and metabolism.

Thyroid disorders include conditions in which the thyroid is overactive, secreting too much of one or more hormones, as well as conditions in which it is underactive, secreting too little hormone. The latter is called hypothyroidism.

People with hypothyroidism have slower than normal metabolisms and often feel cold and sluggish. Low thyroid can exacerbate the incidence of migraines, but the link between the two conditions is more complicated than it seems.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism also include hair loss, weight gain, constipation, and irregular menstrual cycles. It is a rare disorder, and in instances of subclinical hypothyroidism, no symptoms may be apparent. It may be discovered only through blood tests showing slightly elevated TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and T4.

The Statistics of Migraines and Hypothyroidism

About 12% of Americans experience migraines either chronically or episodically. Only around 2% of Americans suffer from hypothyroidism. However, about one-third of that 2% with underactive thyroid have a history of headaches. 

  • Half of the patients diagnosed with hypothyroidism have a history of migraines before the diagnosis.
  • Women are three times more likely to experience migraines than men. According to Johns Hopkins University, the ratio is 18% to 6%
  • Women are 18 times more likely to suffer hypothyroidism than men, according to the Society for Endocrinology.
  • In women, just over half of migraines are related to the menstrual period. However, the average age of a woman diagnosed with hypothyroidism is 51, when they are undergoing or have completed menopause, which typically causes alleviation of migraine symptoms.
  • Since migraines can persist after menopause, hypothyroidism may be related to migraines; however, there is also a strong argument that migraines may predispose a patient to hypothyroidism in return.

The Cincinnati College of Medicine found that individuals with a history of migraines showed a 41% increased risk of developing hypothyroidism in comparison to the general population.

Another study at the University of Cincinnati by researcher Susan Pinny, Ph.D., found hypothyroidism shows not only a higher association in women, but the risk of developing it increases with age, obesity, and certain medications.

Neither condition is life-threatening, but both decrease the quality of life without appropriate treatment.

Hypothyroidism and Migraine Research

A study from the journal Headache entitled Headache Disorders May Be a Risk Factor for the Development of New Onset Hypothyroidism is the most extensive study to date suggesting links between headaches, migraines, and thyroid disorders.

The lead author is Andrew Martin, at the time a fourth-year medical student at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The study also included a researcher named Vincent Martin, MD.

The research involved 8,412 people monitored over 20 years and found patients with pre-existing headache disorder, not just those with migraines, had a 21% increased risk of developing hypothyroidism. Thyroid function was measured every three years over two decades. Anyone with a prior history of thyroid disease or abnormal thyroid test results at the beginning of the study was excluded.

The study not only found a link between the risk of developing thyroid disorders after suffering migraines, but it also found the severity of the migraine symptoms trended with the severity of thyroid disease.

As it happens, a connection between subclinical hypothyroidism had already been found in the pediatric population. When a pediatric patient was treated for subclinical hypothyroidism, migraine severity decreased, resulting in a recommendation for pediatricians to test thyroid function as part of the workup for children with migraine.

While none of these studies definitively shows that migraines cause hypothyroidism, there does appear to be a strong predisposition for those with migraine disorder to develop the condition. Alternatively, patients with hypothyroidism often suffer migraines and headaches due to this condition.

What Is the Connection between Migraines and Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroid symptoms tend to cascade from metabolic effects to brain function, and finally to hormone regulation. One of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism is a headache.

While there is still some question as to whether hypothyroidism causes headaches or is only a simple link, others believe a history of headaches and migraines can cause an individual to develop hypothyroidism.

Since there is a connection between migraines and hormone function, there is a likelihood that suffering from migraines can eventually impact the thyroid, a hormone-producing gland.

Another symptom of hypothyroidism is edema, which is the excessive accumulation of fluid in human tissue. Edema is often a prelude to migraines or prolonged headaches, adding another link between the conditions.

Co-Treatment Reduces Migraines as well as Treating Hypothyroidism

Co-treatment of subclinical hypothyroidism and migraines seems to be more effective than treatment of symptomatic hypothyroidism.  Treatment with levothyroxine can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.

Levothyroxine may not alleviate all migraine and hypothyroid symptoms, but a daily prescription of 50 to 100 milligrams can minimize symptoms of both. In a small-scale study of 45 patients, migraine attacks dropped from 14.68 per month to 1.86 per month.

Unfortunately, the higher doses of levothyroxine required for symptomatic hypothyroidism can actually increase the incidence of headaches or migraines. In cases where this occurs, the migraine or headache may need to be diagnosed and treated as a separate disorder through blood tests and imaging studies.

Replacement medication includes over-the-counter pain relievers, triptans, and ergot medications.

Other treatments helpful for both hypothyroidism, whether subclinical or symptomatic and migraines include stress management and self-care. Migraineurs may be able to reduce their hypothyroidism risk through proactive stress relief since stress exacerbated both conditions.

Without treatment or prevention, frequent migraines or illness can create a feedback loop of stress and sickness, worsening each condition in parallel.

Outdoor walks, guided imagery exercises, hot baths, and gentle yoga have all been shown to help relieve stress. Avoiding certain medications can also lower the risk of developing hypothyroidism.

Amiodarone (for irregular heartbeat), interferon (for tumors and Hepatitis C), and lithium (for depression and bipolar disorder) all have a tendency to induce hypothyroidism.

Migraine patients should report any symptoms of significant weight gain, unexplained fatigue, menstrual irregularities, or unexplained muscle ages to their physician. Thyroid tests should then be ordered to diagnose or rule out thyroid disorders.

Neither migraine nor hypothyroidism is a fatal issue, and there is no need to be alarmed. Stay up to date with migraine research to be an informed patient who collaborates with your physician to create the best quality of life possible.

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As if suffering from chronic migraines wasn’t enough, professional basketball player Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat sometimes wakes up with a migraine. As a professional athlete, Wade carefully manages his diet, exercise and sleep habits to maintain peak performance, but he still wakes up with a migraine some mornings. When that happens, the team knows he will not be on the active roster.

Researchers have uncovered some reasons why you might wake up in the morning with a pounding head, nausea, or aura. Morning migraine reduction may be possible through a few lifestyle changes, but so far a way to completely avoid migraines upon awakening has not been discovered.

Most of the problem can be traced to inadequate sleep. So why do you wake up with a migraine, and what can you do about it?

Poor Sleep Habits

Migraineurs are encouraged to maintain a regular sleep schedule for a reason. Studies have shown inadequate sleep can trigger migraines.

  • If you tend to have an irregular bedtime or get too little sleep, say less than 7 hours, you may wake with a migraine. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every morning, even on the weekends, allowing yourself time to go to sleep and attain the requisite number of hours.
  • It’s best to go to bed on an empty stomach rather than after consuming sugar or caffeine just before bedtime. A dinner rich in carbohydrates about three hours before you go to bed will help you get a good night’s rest.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and at the right temperature. Even if you have never noticed intrusive light or sound, you may still rouse slightly and short yourself on one or more sleep stages, particularly REM. REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) is associated with dreaming, an essential part of the sleep cycle. Also, most of us sleep better in a cool room.

Dreams that you remember tend to be those that occur when a neurotransmitter is released during the REM cycle, one of the same neurotransmitters implicated in migraine, depression, and anxiety. Skipping REM cycles is not only bad for your mental health, but it can be a trigger for a migraine.

For example, those who use sleeping pills often lose REM cycle sleep because the medication prevents it. Using sleep medication when you are a migraineur can exacerbate your problem.

Finally, don’t hit the snooze button on your clock. Repeated short sleep/wake cycles can trigger a migraine or make it worse.

Sleep Disorders

Sometimes an underlying issue causes lack of sleep. Several sleep disorders interfere with adequate sleep, especially the deeper cycles necessary to health.

  • Insomnia is a common sleep problem for many. It is described as difficulty falling or staying asleep or sleep deprivation related to other issues. Over half of migraineurs report sleep-onset or sleep-maintenance insomnia.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea and snoring is another common sleep issue reported by migraineurs. A causal link between sleep apnea and migraines has not yet been made, but it does create a disturbance in the sleep pattern from constant waking to breathe.
  • Sleep movement disorders like sleep bruxism and Restless Legs Syndrome disrupt the sleep cycle similarly to sleep apnea. Sleep bruxism is defined as the clenching or grinding of teeth during sleep. It can be a sign of stress. Restless Legs Syndrome causes a “pins and needles” sensation in the legs when you lie on your back. It creates an intense urge to move them in an attempt to relieve the sensation.
  • Hypnic Syndrome is a condition in which you awaken in the middle of the night due to a headache. It may result in sleep deprivation that triggers a migraine.
  • Narcolepsy is a disorder that causes people to wake feeling fully rested but then fall asleep spontaneously during the day.
  • Somnambulism, otherwise known as sleepwalking, occurs during NREM sleep and can disrupt not just the walker’s sleep but other people’s as well.
  • Intracranial hypotension or strained muscles can disrupt sleep also.

Any one of these physical disorders can disturb sleep and cause you to wake up with a migraine.

Mental Health Conditions

Depression and anxiety, both common to migraineurs, are known for causing insomnia and lost sleep. Both are related to migraines in that all three involve the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Remember that certain neurotransmitters are released during REM sleep. If serotonin or other neurotransmitters become unbalanced, it could trigger a migraine.

Depression and anxiety often occur together (they are co-morbid) with migraine disorder for these reasons.

Other Causes

Alcohol or medication overuse, caffeine, diet, dehydration, and low blood sugar can all cause sleep problems or trigger migraines during the night. Allergens and chemicals have also been known to cause issues. Or your problem may be as simple as using the wrong pillow.

Reducing or Preventing Awakening with a Migraine

Determining the reasons for sleep deprivation or interruption will help you and your physician find the best way to treat the problem. The first step is getting enough sleep (seven to eight hours for most adults). Maintaining regular bed and waking times, sleeping in an optimal environment, and reducing screen time right before bed can all help prevent migraines when you wake.

Other underlying issues such as depression, anxiety, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and other mental and physical conditions should be treated. Once brought under control, the migraines may lessen in frequency and intensity.

While stress itself may not cause a migraine, reducing overall stress can help you maintain healthier sleep habits and make the rest of your life easier.

The Migraine Relief Center Can Help

The Migraine Relief Center is a group of dedicated medical specialists whose only goal is finding the right treatment solution for you and your migraines.

Our caregivers and specialists stay at the forefront of research on migraine treatment and pain relief. They make it a priority to stay up-to-date on new breakthroughs, and in the advanced techniques and technologies that have proven to be successful in most patients.

We can help you determine the probable cause of waking with a migraine, create a custom treatment plan to address any underlying factors, and help you have your best life.

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Among the many physiological and environmental conditions believed to cause migraines, decreased oxygen levels and vasoconstriction of the blood flow in the brain are two of the most often cited by medical researchers.

When pure oxygen is given to the migraineur, the additional oxygen in the blood dilates the blood vessels, relieving the increased pressure. The exact connection between increased oxygen and migraine relief is unclear, but the therapy has been known to be effective for headache pain relief since World War II.

The History of Oxygen Therapy for Migraines

In 1939, Dr. Alvarez of the Mayo Clinic learned that oxygen treatments had provided relief to people suffering a severe “migraine” attack. He later reported that treatment with 100% oxygen at a flow of six to eight liters per minute through a nasal mask relieved the pain, partially or entirely, for 80 out of 100 patients tested. However, the literature of the period may not reliably differentiate between migraines and cluster headaches, for which oxygen treatment has been more thoroughly documented.

While testing the treatment for headache pain, the researchers at the Mayo Clinic found the most benefit from oxygen therapy occurred when it was administered during the aura phase and slightly less effective in the early stages of a migraine. Oxygen therapy was not found to stop a migraine entirely and, when used late in the process, tended to have minimal effect when compared to treatment provided earlier in the attack.

In 2007, Dr. George Sands of Beth Israel Medical Center reported around half of his patients responded to oxygen therapy for migraines. In other studies, three-quarters of patients treated normobarically with oxygen attained relief.

Therapeutic Oxygen Delivery

Oxygen therapy is offered two ways.

  • Hyperbaric oxygen treatment requires the patient to enter an enclosed chamber of freely flowing 100% oxygen.
  • Normobaric oxygen treatment is provided by administering 100% oxygen through a facemask or nasal cannula.

Typically, oxygen is set to flow at a rate of seven to nine liters per minute for 10 to 20 minutes. Hyperbaric treatment was not found to work as well as normobaric treatment for migraines. Also, a small oxygen tank and mask are more convenient and portable than a hyperbaric chamber. When administered normobarically, patients can use an oxygen tank and mask at home.

How Oxygen Therapy Works

So far, there is no definitive answer for how oxygen treatment relieves migraine pain. We know that migraine attacks are accompanied, if not caused, by increased blood flow to the brain while the blood vessels are restricted. When oxygen is administered, and the blood becomes saturated with it, the blood vessels dilate, or become less restrictive, relieving the pressure.

The link between oxygen therapy and migraine pain relief is still under investigation. However, visual auras have been tied to lower circulation. Also, migraineurs often complain of cold hands and feet before and during a migraine, ostensibly due to blood flow being directed elsewhere in the body. Therefore, the idea that an increase in blood flow to the head during an attack is realistic.

Treatment

Oxygen therapy is given by prescription just like other medications and treatments. Your physician can write a prescription that specifies the flow rate and type of mask.

  • Treatment is with 100% high-flow oxygen.
  • The flow rate should be set between 7 and 9 liters per minute, although some patients require a higher flow rate of 12 to 15 liters per minute.
  • The best mask is a non-rebreather type.

A medical supply house may be able to deliver medical grade oxygen. The most convenient size is an “E” tank, which is portable. "M" and "H" tanks are larger but can treat more severe attacks. The size and number of tanks you order depend on the frequency and severity of your migraines each month.

Just a note - “E” type tanks require a different mask from the larger tank types. The supplier should know which mask is appropriate for your order.

When you are taking oxygen treatment, the reservoir bag should never completely deflate when you inhale if the flow rate is set correctly. Your lung capacity and breathing rate determine how high the flow rate must be set.

You may find it more comfortable to take the strap off the mask and just use your hands to hold it to your face. This will keep you from falling asleep with the mask on as the pain dies away.

Start treatment as soon as you feel an attack coming on.

  • Start the oxygen.
  • Breathe deeply and quickly.
  • Completely empty the lungs on exhale.
  • Remain on oxygen for a few minutes after the attack dies away as a preventive measure.

If your physician recommends pursuing treatment differently, follow your doctor’s orders. This is just an example of one patient’s treatment plan.

It is possible to order an oxygen regulator that can provide oxygen up to 25 liters per minute if required.

Results of a Small Scale Test

A small-scale study was reported by the National Institutes of Health. Eleven participants who reported between one and six monthly attacks of migraine with typical aura were administered either oxygen treatment or a placebo arrangement.

Pain relief was measured as a percentage after two attacks. In comparison to a placebo set-up, 60% of those treated with oxygen reported pain relief at two hours of treatment. Another 15% reported freedom from pain after two hours. The treatment was given via a partial rebreathing device rather than a mask and a tank.

Although the size of the study is quite small, it shows hope for oxygen treatment of migraine.

Oxygen therapy is gaining ground as a treatment for migraines. While it’s been known since the 1930s that high oxygen levels can relieve head pain, the treatment was not well-tested until recently. The hypothesis is that increasing the oxygen level of the blood helps dilate the vessels, relieving the pressure of vasoconstriction (which causes the pain).

However, it appears that the treatment is not effective unless started at the first sign of a migraine attack, during the aura or prodrome phase. Oxygen therapy has not been found effective in later stages of migraine attacks, nor can most patients expect complete freedom from pain.

Oxygen treatment does lessen the severity of an attack and may be helpful in prevention over time.

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The Job Accommodation Network estimates that 157 million workdays are lost in the U.S. annually due to migraines. However, the Social Security Administration does not list migraines as a disability. That doesn’t mean you won’t qualify for benefits, but it does mean you need to be ready to produce documentation supporting your claim, and be willing to appeal if denied.

It sounds like a lot of work, but if you are unable to maintain full-time employment due to migraines, obtaining additional funding through Social Security can ease the stress somewhat. Migraines can be an expensive problem. Freaking out about debt can make the pain worse. If you or a loved one can get financial security, some of that tension will go away.

Let’s look at the Social Security Administration guidelines for disability determinations for migraines, the types of disability available, how to speak to your employer about your migraines, and how to apply for disability.

Social Security Disability Guidelines

Although the SSA does not have a standard disability listing for migraines, it can still approve benefits if you are a chronic sufferer. Your primary proof must be that you are unable to maintain a full-time job and earn a gainful living due to the limitations caused by migraines. The SSA has several considerations.

  • They consider the frequency and severity of your migraines.
  • They account for your daily limitations.
  • They review your medical evidence.
  • They examine your options for employment.

If you are unable to perform the essential job duties of any employment for which you are qualified, you may be considered medically eligible for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or SSI benefits.

Note that the SSA will consider any and all jobs you are qualified to work, not just the job you have currently or the one you desire. If you are in manufacturing and cannot work on the shop floor, you must prove you are also unable to perform a sedentary job or other activity as well.

Types of Disability

Disability is available through the Social Security Administration and also through many employers as part of the health insurance package.

  • Short-term disability - covers 90 days of paid time off. Migraineurs may be able to use this for recovery or trying new treatments. Payments may be used at your own discretion, such as new treatments or medication, and to pay for living expenses while you are not working.
  • Long-term disability - covers after 90 days off work. Typically, it covers a percentage of salary from 50% to 75% while you are on medical leave. Eligibility requirements differ between employers and plans.
  • Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) - besides disability from your employer, the Federal Government offers disability. You may be required to apply for it along with your employer benefits. Recipients of SSDI are also eligible for Medicare, and upon retirement, earnings go towards Social Security retirement income. This can increase your retirement income if you stop working at a younger age because of disability.

Speak with your employer about migraine disability. Because it is not listed in the Social Security guidelines, you will need to educate your employer with materials from your physician. Provide specific examples of where a migraine made it difficult or impossible to perform your job. Ease the way by offering ideas for adjusting your job duties to allow you to fulfill them easier.

The Migraine Trust has a reasonable adjustment template to help you come up with a solution.

How to Apply

The review process is a bit lengthy, and the application is just the beginning. You will be required to fill out a functional report questionnaire you receive in the mail. You must return it within 10 days of the date it was mailed to you (as opposed to the date you received it).

If your migraines make it difficult to comply with documentation, enlist an SSA representative, friend, family member, Social Security disability advocate, or an attorney to assist you. The SSA will want to see at least three months of data to prove the migraines are chronic, frequent, and severe. Be specific about your limitations. Meticulous records optimize your chances of being qualified immediately or on the first appeal.

  • Prepare for the functional questionnaire by keeping a migraine diary and writing notes about your daily challenges.
  • List tasks others must assist with because you are unable to perform them alone.
  • Monitor the frequency and severity of migraine attacks as well as the length of time it takes to recover sufficiently to return to work.
  • Include migraine triggers if you have identified them.

Speak with your primary care physician about your plans to apply for disability so the office can help you gather your medical records. There is no list of essential medical evidence required by the SSA, but they like to see the following files.

  • The method your physician used to diagnose your migraines, typically all tests performed to rule out other conditions.
  • Imaging scans from MRI and CT if performed.
  • Medications prescribed by the physician and their effects.
  • A list of symptoms, notes from your physician, and from other medical professionals you have consulted, such as emergency room personnel or specialists.

You will also need a longitudinal report that includes your diagnosis, symptoms, frequency, and duration of migraines, prescription medications, and other treatments.

Qualification

As we mentioned before, you may not be qualified the first time you apply, but don’t let a denial set you back. Continue to keep detailed records and updated medical files for your appeal. If you have other chronic medical problems besides migraines, the SSA may determine the cumulative effect renders you disabled.

The SSA may ask for an evaluation by a different physician before making its determination. If you are denied, retaining an attorney to assist with your appeal can maximize the chance of a favorable ruling.

Medical-Vocational Allowance vs. Disability

While it is true you are applying for a disability ruling from the SSA, the economic benefits you receive are more accurately called a medical-vocational allowance. The allowances are based on something called the residual functional capacity (RFC).

You can receive an RFC determination is you suffer from chronic migraines that cause you to miss more than two days of work each month or experience frequent disruptions due to a migraine while working. The SSA will clarify the records needed for the determination. Do not submit anything that is not explicitly requested.

Migraines are not just headaches. They cause severe head pain and are often accompanied by visual disturbances, nausea, and other symptoms. Most patients are unable to perform work duties when suffering a migraine.

To ease the financial burden of missed work, you can apply to the Social Security Administration for a disability determination that qualifies you for a medical-vocational allowance. Migraines are not listed on the SSA’s listing of impairments, but with the appropriate documentation and medical diagnosis, it is possible to qualify for financial assistance from the Social Security Administration.

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Your body runs on glucose. You break down the carbohydrates you eat into glucose for your cells to use for energy. You can probably guess what happens when there is not enough glucose in your system.

When hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) occurs, the body has several ways to tell you it needs more fuel, not all of them pleasant. For some unfortunate people, the low-on-gas message is received as a migraine. We are here to tell you more about hypoglycemia, its connection to migraines, and how you can treat and prevent these problems now and in the future.

Glucose: Go-Juice for Your Body’s Cells

Carbohydrates are found in most foods except for meat. Bread, crackers, pasta, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, and grains all contain some form of carbohydrate in various amounts. Whole grains provide complex carbohydrates, which break down into glucose slower than the simple carbohydrates provided by fruits, table sugar, sugary drinks, and non-whole grain pasta and bread.

When you consume these foods, your body digests them and converts the carbohydrate to glucose, which is easier for your cells to use. The glucose is carried in your blood throughout the body, supplying its energy needs.

Your brain, in particular, needs a constant supply of glucose to function properly. If your glucose level drops, the brain is one of the first organs affected.

Causes of Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia occurs when your blood glucose level drops below 70 mg/dl.

Normally, your body maintains blood glucose levels with two key hormones: insulin and glucagon. Insulin reduces high glucose levels, and glucagon raises them when they get too low.

  • Diabetes occurs when insulin is no longer produced, or the cells become resistant to it, which keeps glucose from entering the cells and creates conditions for high blood sugar.
  • Chronic hypoglycemia can be an early symptom of pre-diabetes, and diabetics on insulin and certain medications can easily become hypoglycemic.
  • Hypoglycemia in non-diabetics can also occur from consuming excessive alcohol, suffering from chronic illnesses like kidney disease, pancreatic overproduction of insulin, and other endocrine system issues. (The endocrine system is responsible for the production and maintenance of hormones.)
  • Anorexia nervosa and chronic liver problems create hypoglycemic conditions.

For most of us, hypoglycemia is caused by poor eating habits. We skip meals because we’re busy. We fast or rigorously diet to lose weight. Then we ask our bodies to exercise on a low fuel tank.

Eating a high-sugar meal can actually cause reactive hypoglycemia. Your body responds to the sudden influx of glucose by over-producing insulin. The excess insulin pushes glucose into your cells too quickly, causing the level of glucose in the blood to fall.

The Symptoms of Hypoglycemia

As mentioned above, the brain is one of the first organs to be affected by hypoglycemia. Therefore, it’s no surprise that migraines can be caused by low blood glucose.

Many symptoms are related to the brain including confusion, sweating, nausea, faintness, headaches, and hypothermia (abnormally decreased body temperature).

If you begin to feel shaky, dizzy, irritable, weak, or hungry, it’s possible you are suffering from hypoglycemia. If blood glucose levels remain low, you can experience numbness, poor coordination, poor concentration, or coma. If prolonged, hypoglycemia can result in death, although this is a rare consequence.

The Hypoglycemic Connection to Migraines

Since hypoglycemia affects the brain first, most symptoms begin there. For those prone to them, migraines are often the result of fasting, eating high-sugar foods, or skipping meals. Sometimes delayed or irregular meals can create the conditions for a migraine to occur.

In fact, several of the symptoms of hypoglycemia are also harbingers of an approaching migraine: pallor, yawning, sweating, craving sweets, and mood changes (often irritability). However, other hormones may be released due to the stress of fasting, dehydration, or lack of sleep that are indirect causes of migraines or headaches.

Strangely enough, migraines caused by hypoglycemia may not be accompanied by other typical migraine symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light or sound.

Testing for Hypoglycemia

Testing for hypoglycemia is pretty much the same as for diagnosing diabetes (hyperglycemia).

  • A prolonged glucose tolerance test - The patient fasts overnight and consumes a bottle of glucose solution with a predetermined amount of glucose. Every hour a blood sample is tested for glucose. If the level falls too quickly or too far, hypoglycemia may be diagnosed.
  • A glucose challenge - A shortened form of the tolerance test is performed.
  • If you are feeling unwell, testing your blood glucose may point to low blood sugar.

Ask your physician if one of these tests could benefit your diagnosis.

Treating Hypoglycemia-Related Migraines

As with diabetics, if you are diagnosed with hypoglycemia, you should obtain a glucose monitor and carry it with you along with a snack at all times. If you feel the symptoms of a migraine begin, check your blood sugar. If it is below 70 mg/dl, you need to increase your glucose levels quickly.

  • Eat 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates, such as hard candy, honey, syrup, fruit juice, or sugar.
  • Take an over-the-counter glucose gel or tablet. Check the amount of carbohydrate in each tablet to know how many to take to reach 15 grams.
  • Eat a snack of protein and carbohydrate like peanut butter or cheese and crackers.

If the migraine does not recede or your blood sugar fails to rise, call your doctor and get a ride to the hospital. Do not drive during a hypoglycemic episode; your faculties are impaired, and you could pass out. If no one is there to drive, call 911.

If you live with someone with hypoglycemia, do not try to feed him or her carbohydrates if they have lost consciousness, they could choke. Prepare an action plan with your friend or loved one before the first attack, so you know how to help.

Preventing Migraines Caused by Hypoglycemia

It seems self-evident, but the best way to prevent hypoglycemia and the attendant migraine is to eat regular, healthy meals. If you are diabetic, follow your dietary and medical management plan established by your physician and nutritionist.

  • Avoid hidden sugars in packaged foods. Read the label.
  • Train your brain to stop craving sugar by eating complex carbohydrates that are found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Eat more vegetables and fruit than pasta, bread, or chips.

Smaller, more frequent meals can help keep glucose levels steady throughout the day. At any rate, do not go more than three hours without eating while you are awake. Make sure to consume a diet balanced in protein, fats, carbohydrates, and fiber. Limit sugary foods and alcohol, especially if your stomach is empty.

Get plenty of exercise, too. Physical exertion helps your body use glucose more efficiently and effectively.

Hypoglycemia has been found to be a cause of migraines in those susceptible to the condition. It can be caused by irregular eating habits or by ingesting too much sugar. If a migraine occurs, it may be treatable by increasing your blood glucose. Prevent migraines by eating a regular, healthy diet.

If you are concerned you suffer from hypoglycemia or diabetes, consult your primary care physician immediately for a diagnosis and proper treatment.

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The history of reflexology, or the use of pressure points on the hands, feet, and other areas of the body to treat illness is relatively short in the United States but has been used for millennia throughout Asia. In combination with herbal remedies and conventional medicine, reflexology for migraines can provide effective treatment.

People suffering from various types of pain, including muscle pain, pre-menstrual syndrome and headaches are flocking to reflexology clinics in London. The practice is increasingly in demand here in the U.S. as well.

Before we start talking about the use of reflexology for the relief and prevention of migraines, we would like to emphasize that you should use the same caution in seeking this treatment as you would any other.

  • Before trying reflexology, even if it is for self-treatment, migraine patients should consult their primary care physicians. Reflexology is not meant to replace other forms of treatment. In fact, it works better when combined with other holistic therapies such as herbal medicine and yoga.
  • If you are pregnant or suffer from hand or foot trauma, certain reflexology methods should be avoided. At the least, you should consult a physician and seek treatment from a professional reflexologist before attempting self-therapy.

Now, let’s see how reflexology works and how it is applied to migraine treatment.

Defining Reflexology and Migraine Treatment

Reflexology is the physiological stimulation of specific points of the body to promote circulation and optimal neurological function. It is considered a holistic therapy thought to benefit health and balanced life.

Several areas of the body are thought to be connected to the internal organs, brain, blood circulation, and nerve function by your life force called the Qi (pronounced chee). The Qi flows through various meridians in the body from the feet to the head.

When the Qi is blocked, a corresponding illness or dysfunction occurs in certain bodily functions. Massaging the appropriate physical region unblocks the flow of Qi and brings the body back into a healthy balance.

When the Qi is not flowing smoothly, physical symptoms arise. In the case of a migraine, the Qi is not moving smoothly throughout the head. Too much Qi gathering in the head causes headaches or migraines with intense stabbing, throbbing, or pounding pain. When the flow of the Qi is low in the head, a chronic, milder, and achy headache occurs.

Migraine relief can be provided by rubbing, massaging, or applying pressure to precise points on the feet and hands.

The Structure of the Human Hand and Foot:  a Tutorial

A knowledge of the various parts of the foot is instrumental in determining the acupressure points that are associated with pain in various parts of the head.

  • Metatarsals - the long bones running from your toes back to the main part of the foot.
  • Phalanges - a fancy name for your toes. Your fingers are also phalanges.
  • Forefoot - the bottom part of the foot associated with the metatarsals and phalanges. It includes what we typically call the “ball” of the foot.
  • Metacarpals - the long bones in the hand running from your fingers to your wrist.

The foot is home to over 100 moving parts including the bones, tendons, muscles, and ligaments. The acupressure points are named for their association with the internal organs as well as having a traditional Chinese name.

Acupressure and Reflexology Points on the Foot for Migraine Treatment

You may remember from elementary school science that the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and vice versa. The same holds true for acupressure points. For pain on the left side of your head, massage the reflexology point on the right foot; reverse it for pain on the right side of the head.

For migraines in the temporal area or sides of your head, apply acupressure to the inside surface of the large toe (where it lies against the second toe).

  • Massage the point using your thumb to press and rub from side to side, starting at the tip of your large toe and working your way back towards the foot.
  • At the base of the toe, pick up your thumb and place it back at the top of the toe and repeat the massaging action.
  • Continue the massage for 60 seconds to smooth the flow of Qi and relieve the migraine or headache originating in the temporal area.

The Four Gates include two acupressure points on the feet and two on the hands. A warning about the Four Gates: Do not use these points if you are pregnant. It has been known to induce labor or create other issues.

The foot point is called Tai Chong, also known as Liver 3 (L3) because it is located on the liver meridian of the body. The liver is essential in ensuring the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body. It is located on top of the foot between the metatarsals for the large toe and second toe, near where the bones meet.

  • Use your thumb to locate the intersection of the two bones.
  • Slide your thumb towards the toes by about a thumb’s width.
  • Apply pressure to the depression between the bones for one minute.

The hand point is called He Gu, also known as Large Intestine 4 (LI4) or Union Valley. It is located on top of the webbing between your thumb and index finger. Press the side of your index finger to the side of the thumb. The highest part of the muscle bulge is LI4. Squeeze or press on the area with the opposite thumb for one minute while relaxing the hand you are massaging. It may help to make small circles with the thumb, 10 seconds in one direction and 10 seconds in the other.

The Zu Ling Qi is also labeled Gall Bladder 41 (GB-41) because it is along the Gall Bladder meridian. This point can be very sensitive, and pressure can bring tears to your eyes. Hence the English translation "foot overlooking tears."

When applying pressure, there is no reason to go beyond comfort. It is better to press too lightly than too firmly.

  • This point is located at the V formed by the metatarsals for the smallest toe and the toe next to it.
  • Just above the intersection is a slight depression between the bones.
  • Press and hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

The gallbladder meridian runs through the side of the head and through the forehead, so massaging this point is helpful for pain in these areas. Also, this point is beneficial for relieving headache pain associated with menstruation.

For migraines involving the face, rock your thumb across your large toe starting at the base of the nail. Work your way to the base of the toe and repeat for 30 to 60 seconds. You should feel relief from pain just below the eyes, in the cheeks, the jaw area, and the front of the face.

Wrapping It Up

Reflexology has been practiced for thousands of years, but only caught on in the U.S. within the past century. Acupressure applied to specific places on the body such as the feet and hands can relieve the pain of a migraine.

Before pursuing self-treatment, speak with your primary care physician and consult a professional reflexologist before trying it on your own.

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If you’ve ever stepped into an elevator that reeks of smokers who used it, or been seated beside someone who overdosed on aftershave, you’ll know how easily an overpowering scent can trigger a migraine or an allergy attack. This occurs so often that many public institutions, nonprofits and healthcare organizations are starting to ask visitors to refrain from wearing any form of scent, because so many people are affected by these.

Those same healthcare institutions are as guilty as many other companies when it comes to cleaning supplies, however, and if you’ve experienced a migraine as a result of going to visit someone’s home it might be a result of the cleaning products they are using. Many chemical compounds exude a destructive odor, and even if you can’t avoid the smells in public, you can certainly make choices that help you avoid the triggers in your home.

Here’s how to determine whether certain cleaning materials are likely to trigger a migraine, and what you can do about it.

Cleaning Products to Avoid

Many cleaning materials release chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are gases released into the air during use. These are found in products such as:

  • Solvents, including paint strippers, propylene glycol, ammonia
  • Detergents, such as oven and household cleaners, bleach, dishwashing liquids, disinfectant solutions,
  • Specialized household solutions, for example rug and upholstery cleaning products, dry-cleaning chemicals, pesticides, aerosol sprays, and air fresheners.
  • Even cleaning supplies with so-called “natural” fragrances like citrus can react with ozone to create harmful particles in the air, causing conditions such as asthma and other respiratory problems.

VOCs can irritate mucous membranes such as your eyes and throat, cause headaches, and even contribute to contracting various forms of cancer, according to the American Lung Association.

How Cleaning Supplies Cause Migraine

So, why do these products cause migraine episodes? First, smell is a primary trigger for many migraineurs. The sense of smell is exceptionally powerful, and influences both how your body feels and what your mind thinks. Research indicates strong odors can cause blood vessels to swell and dilate, as well as stimulate areas of the brain that relate to the nervous system. In addition, some migraine patients are susceptible to allergic reactions, and strong smells can cause inflammation and kick-start other symptoms of allergy. There’s a close link between migraine and allergies, and patients who suffer from sinus and rhinitis are all too familiar with how easily a reaction begins.

Products to Use Instead

You can avoid public places just after typical cleaning times like first thing in the morning and refrain from going into homes that set you off, but unfortunately you can’t simply stop cleaning your own living space. What you can do instead, however, is find suitable replacements for any commercial cleaning products, and to use them in a well-ventilated area.

Here are some of the natural substitutes we like:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide This is an effective household cleaner that has very little odor and doesn’t contain harmful VOCs. It’s not as pleasant as a nice-smelling option, but it won’t leave you writhing in pain either.
  • Vinegar One of the most versatile substances in existence, vinegar can be used for anything from washing windows, baths and sinks to cleaning floors, disinfecting equipment and dissolving plugs of debris in a bathroom sink. Use the strongest blend you can get followed by boiling water where appropriate, and you’ll never need to resort to bleach again.
  • Jojoba Oil This is unscented and ideal for cleaning wood and leather. You can also try mineral oil for this purpose, but avoid using cooking oils on this kind of materials.
  • Coarse Salt There’s little you can clean with scouring powder that you can’t clean with coarse salt, especially when you combine it with vinegar or concentrated lemon juice. From polishing your antique silver to getting old paint off a wall, coarse salt has a scouring ability second to none.
  • Baking Soda

    This is another extremely versatile product that forms the basis of a multitude of household cleaning supplies. It removes stains, kills odors, gets rid of grease, deodorizes furniture, banishes mildew, brightens up laundry, eliminates garbage odors, and even cleans jewelry. Mix it with various liquids for stronger, pain-free cleaning power.

    When in doubt, warm water and soap suds will often do as good a job as any other cleaner, and as long as you use an odorless soap you should have no after-effects.

Brand Name Products

Over the years the migraine community has come up with this list of brand-name products less likely than others to trigger an attack, but it’s still important to proceed carefully. What works for one patient may not work as well for another.

Print this list out and take it with to the store to do a smell test when you don’t have a migraine, and buy the ones you think might work for you. Remember, scent-sensitivity is a very personal thing.

  • Lysol Unscented Wipes
  • Simple Green
  • Norwex
  • Method
  • Dawn
  • Bona
  • Fantastik with Clorox
  • Borax

Read the label on anything you buy, and be sure to choose products that have minimal quantities of the VOCs listed above. Manufacturers aren’t obliged to list all the ingredients in products, and those materials labelled “green” aren’t necessarily safer. Do your research using reliable sources, such as the EPA’s Safer Choice website.   

Tips for Cleaning

Headache-free housecleaning isn’t only about the odor of the products you use, though. Doing—and not doing—certain things can make all the difference to your day. Here are some housecleaning tips for migraineurs:

  • Work in spaces with good ventilation. If you can’t open the windows because of the heat or cool air escaping, stand a desk fan nearby and have it blowing the dust and odors away from you. Never use cleaning products in a small, enclosed area.
  • Wear a surgical face mask while you’re cleaning. This not only provides a barrier between your nasal membranes and the scent, it also protects you from inhaling fine dust particles that could bring on an allergic reaction.
  • Avoid trying to do everything in a short amount of time. Gauge your energy levels and your migraine status and pace yourself, taking frequent breaks to rest.  
  • Always follow directions for a brand-name product to avoid using it in a way that can cause harmful reactions. For example, oven cleaner used on the stove top can cause the surface coating to disintegrate and give off unpleasant particles.
  • Never mix cleaning products, because the wrong combination can not only trigger a migraine but potentially poison you.

It’s worth buying only the quantity of a product you plan to use in a foreseeable period. Storing any chemical cleaning products can lead to spills or degradation, which can result in the materials giving off even worse compounds.

Treating a Migraine

If you do develop a migraine episode as a result of housecleaning, stop immediately and follow your usual treatment protocols. Try to identify the product or activity that led to the attack, and make a note in your migraine diary so you can aim to avoid making the same error again.

Chemical products have made our cleaning much easier, and many people appreciate them tremendously. For migraine patients, however, using these can make housecleaning worse than it already is. Substituting commercial supplies with natural products with fewer ingredients and no fragrance can literally mean the difference between a clean home and a day spent lying down in a darkened room.

 

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With the holiday season approaching at what feels like the speed of light, many people living with migraine will be happy at the idea of shopping for presents, enjoying time with loved ones, traveling to visit family, taking time off work, receiving nice gifts and enjoying festivities where tasty food and seasonal alcoholic beverages are served in generous amounts.

Unfortunately, festive events are also filled with triggers that could make a migraine patient feel like the Grinch of the popular Dr. Seuss tale. Here’s how to survive the holidays by avoiding migraine triggers wherever possible.

Strategy #1: Avoid Shopping Nightmares

Shopping can be stressful at the best of times, but heavy winter coats, overly-warm stores, long checkout lines and busy crowds over the holidays can be an absolute nightmare for a migraineur. You can avoid all this by:

  • Shopping early. Try to get all your gift shopping done before the end of November, so you can stay away from stores completely in December. Doing it in stages over the months leading up to the holidays can reduce the stress of shopping tremendously.
  • Consider online or catalog shopping. These days, it’s safe and efficient and you usually get the items delivered to your doorstep, which beats venturing out hands-down.
  • Plan your route. If you absolutely have to go out to a store or two, plan your trip down to the last detail so you can avoid aimlessly wandering around, backtracking and exhaustion. Research ahead of time which stores have the items you want (some store websites even tell you what stock they have and which aisle to find it in), and have a backup plan like a gift voucher in mind in case you don’t find what you’re looking for.
  • Choose your time of day. It’s easy to determine when a store’s busy times are—you can usually find that on Google, and if not, call ahead and ask. Do your gift hunting during the quieter periods, such as early in the morning or in the last hour of business.
  • Enlist help. Spouses, family members and friends can all be asked for assistance in doing the holiday shopping, especially if they are doing their own anyway. Just ask each person to add one item to their list and you might be able to avoid going out there completely.

Try not to panic if plans change at the last minute. Keeping a relaxed and open mind will help ward off tension migraine triggers.

Strategy #2: Get a Grip on Your Stress

The holiday season can be stressful for many reasons, and stress is one thing migraine patients simply can’t afford. Gifts, parties and get-togethers, cooking and baking, family visits, or perhaps even the absence of these, can make the season stressful. Issues such as affordability, high expectations, and dysfunctional family relationships can all help to exacerbate the stresses, leaving you drained and incapable of functioning at your best.

Protect your personal time during the silly season by making sure you set aside a period each day for reconnecting with yourself. It’s one way to escape the madding crowds and ensure you save your sanity—and your migraines—for another day.

Whether you’re dealing with chaos or the lack of it, remember you can’t control everything so quit trying. The one thing you can influence is how you react to the stimuli, however, so do what it takes to reduce the stress. Deep breathing techniques, meditation and massage therapy are just some ways you can get a grip on your stress during this period and prevent migraines triggered by stress from ruining your holidays.

Strategy #3: Eat Carefully

Food is one of the primary triggers of a migraine, and it’s very easy when you’re outside your comfort zone and off your regular schedule to break the good habits you spent all year cultivating. Manage your risk for migraine by:

Avoiding foods such as chocolate, aged cheeses, citrus fruits, spicy dishes and sodas containing aspartame can help you prevent the triggering of a migraine. That’s not all there is to the eating aspect, however; it’s as much about what you DO eat as what you DON’T, such as:

  • Eat lots of green vegetables. According to Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN, dietitian and spokesperson for America's Better Sandwich, foods such as kale and broccoli that are rich in magnesium are known to help avert migraines. By adding more of these into your holiday diet in the form of salads, smoothies, juices, sandwiches and desserts, you can help to prevent migraines.
  • Choose plain, wholegrain bread, sourdough, rye, pumpernickel and bagels also contain magnesium, and the fiber content is good for migraines. Skip the rich fillings like cheese and processed meats, and stuff your sandwiches with shredded lettuce, smoked salmon, sliced mushrooms and some dried cranberries for extra flavor. Your snack will be as filling and tasty as the oily pizza everyone else is eating, and a lot more nutritious and pain-safe.
  • Fill your plate with veggies. In addition to the greens, cooked orange and yellow vegetables like carrots, sweet potato and most kinds of squash are full of nutrients that benefit both body and mind, According to the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine, cooked vegetables that are orange in color (such as carrots and sweet potato) have been proven to be safe for migraine sufferers. These food items are filled with nutrients that benefit both body and mind, and eating these as a complex carbohydrate combined with lean protein such as fish or chicken makes for a great meal.
  • Go low-fat with dairy. It’s high in calcium that releases serotonin, which minimizes migraine symptoms as well as being better able to prevent them from happening in the first place.

If you’re keeping a migraine diary to track your symptoms and triggers, you’ll know by now which foods you can—and can’t—eat. Eat regularly and well, plan ahead, and if necessary, take your own food with you to a family visit, so you don’t have to worry about setting off an episode.  Start supplementing your diet with vitamins C and B12 well in advance of the holidays, to avoid colds and flu that might precipitate a migraine.

Strategy #4: Shield Your Eyes

It might be winter, but you can still experience glare from the sun (or the snow, if you live in a cooler region). Protect your eyes during indoor and outdoor activities as well as while traveling, by donning a pair of protective, tinted glasses from Axon Optics or TheraSpecs.

Minimize your exposure to holiday lights like fairy lights, streetlights and shining store displays by doing your shopping during daylight, when the glare isn’t as obvious.

Avoid adding flickering lights to your Christmas tree at home, and if you visit family and they have flashing lights just ask if they can turn them off or change them to a steady setting while you’re there.   

Strategy #5: Escape Destructive Scents

From cooking aromas to the fresh smell of a pine Christmas tree, the holidays are filled with odors good and bad. It’s very difficult to avoid them during the holiday season, with everyone decked out in their best attire complete with fragrances. These are a common trigger of migraine especially for patients who suffer from aura, whether the odors are pleasant or not.

Ask ahead of time if guests can refrain from wearing perfume, cologne or aftershave, and if scented soaps and candles could be kept to a minimum during your visit. Be selective about the places you go and the appointments you keep. Take a surgical face mask with to wear if the scents are inescapable, and be sure to let your host know on arrival that you might have to leave if a migraine develops.

Strategy #6: Get Enough Sleep

Catching up with family and friends often means staying up later than usual at night, sleeping over in strange locations like a hotel, B&B or someone else’s home. All of these can cause disruption of your sleep patterns, so set yourself some rules to follow during the holiday season.

  1. Establish a later bedtime than usual. Start this at least a week before you actually need to do it, so your body has time to get used to the new pattern. If you usually retire at 10 pm but expect you’ll be up until midnight during the festivities, condition yourself to accept going to bed later and arrange your life so you can sleep a bit later too. This will help to reduce any sleep deprivation you might otherwise experience that can be a trigger for a migraine attack.
  2. Calm your mind. If you’ve ever gone to bed straight from a party, you’ll know how hard it is to calm your mind and get into the mood for sleeping. Make it a habit to head out half an hour before your designated sleep time, so you have a chance to relax and switch off before getting into bed. Use meditation apps or recordings to “talk you down” before trying to sleep, or play a sleeping music playlist from YouTube or Spotify to send you off to dreamland.
  3. Don’t eat or drink less than an hour before bed. You should have no more than a teacup-full of fluid before bedtime, and nothing to eat for four hours before retiring. This avoids indigestion from food dislodged by the lying-down position, as well as trips to the bathroom during the night.

Other factors affecting your sleep include medications and alcohol, so it’s important to keep these in mind even when you’re following the tips provided for those topics.

Strategy #7: Keep Alcohol to a Minimum

There’s nothing nicer than a glass of bubbly to welcome the festive season, but you could pay a high price. Alcohol of any description is a migraine trigger, but you’re especially vulnerable if you drink something you’re unaccustomed to, like champagne or sparkling wine, eggnog, mulled wine or holiday cocktails. These drinks are not only unusual but are typically enjoyed as part of a combination of drinks during an event. Mixing drinks is never a good idea, and for migraine sufferers it can precipitate a very inconvenient headache.

A headache that arrives immediately you drink alcohol is known as a cocktail headache, but a headache that only arrives later is a hangover headache. These headache types occur on both sides of the brain simultaneously, with a throbbing, pulsing sensation. “Trigger” headaches usually occur within two or three hours of drinking, which earmarks them as cocktail headaches.

Scientists used to believe alcohol causes migraines because it dilates the blood vessels, but modern medicine is more focused on the idea that chemicals in the alcohol such as sulfites, tannins and tyramines help to form the headaches. A third theory is that it triggers an inflammatory response, which leads to migraine.

Strategy #8: Stay Hydrated

The holidays have many hidden culprits that can cause you to become dehydrated. Warm rooms, fireplaces, alcohol, teas and coffees, long hours spent shopping and cooking—all of these can serve to reduce the amount of moisture you need to stay hydrated. Your brain then temporarily contracts, shrinks from fluid loss and pulls away from the skull causing a headache.

Keep a bottle of water with you at all times and train yourself to sip regularly from it every few minutes. Flavor the water by adding a slice of lemon or lime to the drink, if you don’t enjoy the au naturel taste, or swap your water out for any of these drinks proven to be just as hydrating:

  1. Milk – regular or lactose-free
  2. Oral rehydration solution
  3. Fruit juice – freshly pressed or squeezed
  4. Sports drinks like Vitamin Water.

Refill your water bottle before you leave to travel to any destination. Even if you’re not dehydrated, finding yourself on a busy highway with backed up traffic and no water can be quite disastrous for a migraine sufferer.

Strategy #9: Do Your Exercises

Get in shape for the festive season by building up to a healthy exercise program by the time the holidays roll around. Regular, healthy exercise releases endorphins, which are our bodies’ natural painkillers. These reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches, while the exercise itself lowers your stress levels and helps to ensure you sleep at night. Remember exercise can trigger a migraine, too, so it’s important to take precautions such as:

  • Making sure you hydrate well before, during and after your exercise sessions. If your mouth gets dry and you don’t perspire you could be dehydrated already. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to rectify the situation.
  • Eat protein-rich foods about an hour and a half before you start exercising. This ensures you have enough energy to balance lowering your blood sugar through physical activity.
  • Warm up well by walking at a slow pace for five minutes and gradually speeding up before you do any more intensive exercise.

If you’re a migraine sufferer, regularity and consistency are your friends this holiday season. Migraine management depends on keeping a close rein on what you’re doing, when and how you’re doing it. Being proactive will help you avoid triggering an attack and ensure you have the best holiday season ever.

 

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