Migraines Among Women and How to Prevent Them

This article has been graciously shared by our friend Amanda King at www.arterialdissection.com. It’s a topic that is supremely relevant to many of our readers here at Dakin Rehab. Enjoy!

Approximately 38 million Americans suffer from migraines, and about 28 million of those sufferers are women. Understanding what causes migraines, what can be done to prevent them, and why women are at greater risk for migraines may help you or someone you love to avoid  or minimize migraine pain.

WHAT IS A MIGRAINE?

A migraine is intense pain that affects one or both sides of the head. Migraines are the result of changes within the brain, often caused by sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells. Additionally, migraines can cause nausea and vomiting. 

MIGRAINE CAUSES

Migraines can be caused by hormonal fluctuations, which is why women are more susceptible to them than men. Menstrual cycle changes can be enough to cause and then subsequently trigger migraines in some women. Trauma and conditions such as arterial dissection can also cause migraines.

After experiencing a migraine, the risk of experiencing migraines in the future is increased. Triggers such as certain foods, alcohol, stress, and strong stimuli may cause migraines to come on or may exacerbate migraines.

PREVENTING MIGRAINES

After migraines have occurred, avoiding common triggers can help to prevent future migraines:

  • Avoiding bright lights may help to prevent migraines. Since driving at night, going out during the times when the sun is the highest, and attending movie theaters may expose you to bright lights, avoiding these may help to prevent migraines.
  • Switching or staying off birth control may help to control hormones. Being aware of menstrual cycle changes and focusing more on diet and exercise at certain times can also help with migraine prevention.
  • Watching nutrition and taking supplements can prevent deficiencies that may contribute to migraines.
  • Staying away from certain foods that often trigger migraines may help keep the headaches away. Wine, cheese, sweeteners, chocolate, and processed meats have all been linked to migraines.
  • Eating and sleeping at the same time each day can help to prevent migraines. A lack of sleep, too much sleep, and hunger are all common migraine triggers that can be avoided by establishing a routine for eating and sleeping.
  • Reducing stress by meditating, taking yoga classes, or doing gentle exercises can assist with migraine prevention. Since stress triggers migraines, conscious relaxation is a good prevention method. It’s important to be aware of how you are feeling however, as exercises that are too rigorous can trigger migraines.

TREATING MIGRAINES

Medications are often used to treat migraines. Abortive medications stop migraine pain once it has begun by targeting serotonin. Preventative medications can be taken regularly in order to reduce the frequency of migraines.

If medications aren’t desired, devices that administer electrical impulses to stop migraines are now available. Many patients look to more natural solutions to migraines, and often report experiencing migraine relief from massage.

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