Migraines can range from annoying to debilitating depending on the severity and frequency of a sufferer’s headaches. Frequent migraine sufferers learn early on to limit certain triggers and battle common risk factors to avoid the onset of a migraine when possible. What can a migraine sufferer do to battle an uncontrollable trigger, such as the hormones associated with a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle?
Since my own migraines began 17 years ago, I have tried more treatments, medications and kooky, half baked home remedies than I would care to remember. It took a number of years to learn to successfully manage my life around my migraines-but, even at a manageable point, menstrual migraines still manage to barge into my busy life once a month. Finally, after nearly 20 years, I have learned to even manage migraines with the uncontrollable triggers, such as hormones and the weather. How? Can my tips work for you?
Anticipate your menstrual cycle-and learn your hormone pattern. Some migraine sufferers notice that their migraines strike during ovulation, or at a mid cycle point of the month, which others suffer during menstruation. Learning when your hormone levels trigger your migraine will help you treat, if not prevent, the headache before it takes control.
Micro-manage your non-hormonal migraine triggers. If you have already identified your personal migraine triggers, you likely already avoid those that the plague. However, if you have suspected triggers that do not always cause a migraine-but, have the potential to do so, avoid these completely in the few days leading up to your hormone triggered migraine time frame. This can be the difference between a hormonal headache and a full blown migraine attack.
Switch to an organic or whole foods diet. Some migraine patients must avoid any form of processed foods, so cooking full meals from scratch often becomes a way of life. If you condition does not force all natural foods, you may still find relief from menstrual headaches to eat homecooked meals during your period, or during ovulation, because the nutritional balance can be more suited to your body’s needs during those hormonal fluctuations.
Get enough sleep. Your neurologist probably asks you on every visit about your sleep patterns. Your body needs rest-and it is even more important to rest it during your menstrual cycle to allow your body the energy and nutrient levels necessary to function.
Stay hydrated Water is important to your body’s cellular function as well as its overall health. Ensuring that you are well hydrated helps keep your body’s cells functioning at optimum pace and capacity-and while science doesn’t necessarily tout it, hydration does seem to have a positive impact on migraine reduction.
Discuss PMS treatment with your physician. Even if migraines are your only symptom, your physician may some viable treatment options available to help your better manage your headches during a given period of the month. Just remember that many over the counter PMS medications contain pain killers that may conflict or interact with your migraine medications, so be sure to discuss all of your medications with your physician.
Consider the pros and cons of regulating your hormones. Some menstrual migraine sufferers find relief while pregnant-others may find that the headaches stop after the birth of a child or during breastfeeding. If your physician has options to control your fluctuating hormone levels, such as birth control pills or injections, take a listen and see if it’s a solution that may work for you.
Relax. Relaxation is one of the most important aspects of avoiding a migraine. Once you have identified your hormonal migraine timeframe, you must make every effort to de-stress during that time. Does this mean that you soak in a warm tub after the kids are off to bed-or do you need a neck massage? Take a look at your schedule-and your anticipated menstrual migraine days-and make some adjustments to allow a little downtime.
Use heat or ice therapy. Every migraine sufferer is different. Some headaches positively respond to ice packs placed on tensing muscles while others need a heating pad instead. Even if you do not yet have a total migraine; check out any sore, tight or tense muscles in your upper body and apply ice or heat as desired.
If all else fails, medicate at the absolute first sign of the migraine. Migraine sufferers have something of a sixth sense when predicting the onset of a migraine. Perhaps you have vision changes, become unfocused or extremely tired, see the typical migraine auras, or just get that “migraine feeling” in your neck and shoulders. After a few migraines, patients learn to notice the signs and symptoms. It is especially important to medicate yourself immediately at the onset with the medications that work best for your headaches. Carry your migraine medications with you at all times because even taking a 30 minute delay after you predicted the migraine can be too much time to allow a preventative to counteract the brewing headache.
It is difficult to remedy an uncontrollable migraine trigger like your hormone levels-but, with some lifestyle changes, you may find that you are able to keep the migraine down to a functional, run of the mill headache. Unfortunately, for many women, menstrual migraines may continue until sheer age controls the hormonal fluctuations. No matter your age, managing menstrual migraines is often possible.