Migraines are the third most common health condition afflicting people around the world, and the worst part is that most people live with this problem throughout their entire lives without any remedy. Studies show that around 1 billion people across the globe suffer from migraines. (Source)
Commonly identified by the typical excruciating one-sided headache that continues for up to 3 to 4 days, migraines can potentially disrupt normal life activities and cause extreme levels of distress to those experiencing it.
The most common way to manage migraines is by the use of medication and pain killers. However, strong pain killers and anti-migraine pills are often accompanied by side effects when used for a long time. That is one of the reasons why many people suffering from migraines prefer to stay away from painkillers as much as possible.
The ideal way is to adopt certain measures at home, incorporating a few lifestyle changes or habit alterations, to keep migraines at bay. This can make migraine management more effective, if not cure it completely, and also reduces the frequency of migraine attacks.
If you frequently suffer from migraines, then here are some home management tips that you can adopt.
- Get ample rest – Firstly, it is absolutely essential to give yourself some rest in a quiet and darkroom. Many people complain about an increased sensitivity towards sound and light or any other visual stimulus (source) when they are already experiencing migraine attacks. So the pain might increase if you are sitting amidst glaring lights or working for long stretches on your computer, or if there are harsh shrill noises around you. You can use blackout blinds for health to create the ideal resting ambiance in your room. Getting some sleep often helps; the chemicals released in the brain while we are asleep can help in lowering the throbbing headache. Also, make sure to block out noises, as that can interrupt your sleep and even increase the intensity of migraine pain.
- Practice mindful meditation – Another helpful remedy is mindful meditation. Sit in a quiet room, take some time and try to be in the moment as much as possible. Practice breathing exercises and try your best to let go of all of those stressful thoughts. Mindful meditation has shown some great results in the past; in a 2016 review, experts have compared it to migraine medication as they both tend to offer similar results. (Source) Here, you need to keep in mind that meditation needs time and practice, as well as patience. But the good thing is that mindful meditation has shown some positive impacts on chronic migraine issues, so it is highly recommended in managing migraines.
- Use a warm or cold compress – Applying a cold or hot compress is yet another effective remedy for lowering migraine pain. You can place the compress across your forehead or at the back of your neck. Find out which compress works best for you – some people prefer an icy cold compress, which delivers a numbing effect to nerve endings thereby alleviating the sensation of pain. Many others prefer heating pads or hot packs, which help in relieving tense muscles and promote relaxation. (Source)
- Exercise regularly – Exercising regularly can reduce both the intensity and frequency of migraine attacks. Mild to moderate exercising easily improves the blood flow throughout the body and promotes the flow of hormones called endorphins which help us beat stress and sleep well. (Source) Endorphins are also the naturally occurring painkillers in our bodies. Experts at the Migraine Research Foundation also recommend practicing tai chi or yoga, which are low-impact workout options.
- Watch what you eat – Contrary to what many of us think, there is a fine link between our food habits and migraines. Studies have shown that eating too many chocolates, cheese, cream, ice-creams, or high caffeine and alcohol intake can easily trigger migraines and should be avoided as much as possible. The best way is to maintain a record of your diet and keep a close watch on what food items increase the pain, to identify the triggers correctly. It is also equally crucial to maintain proper meal timings. Irregular diet timings and fasting or allowing long hours between meals are very common causes of migraines. You must completely avoid such practices. (Source)
- Lavender helps – Smelling lavender has shown some significant impact on reducing migraine pain. The lavender smell helps the mind to relax. You can use lavender essential oils or drink lavender tea; both can be equally beneficial in soothing headaches. Clinical trials have shown that people with migraines inhaling the smell of lavender for around 15 minutes experienced reduced pain severity compared to those who did not. (Source)
- Get a massage – Research has shown the positive effects of applying massage therapy to patients suffering from chronic migraines. (Source) Massaging the temple area helps relax tensed muscles and relieve lingering sensations of pain. However, this is a personal preference aspect here, as some people become very sensitive to touch when they experience migraine pain. You can try this out and see if a gentle head massage works for you.
- Keep yourself adequately hydrated – Dehydration is one of the well-known triggers for headaches and migraines. According to the American Migraine Foundation, nearly one-third of people suffering from migraines believe that their migraines are caused due to a lack of hydration. (Source) An ample supply of water and electrolytes in the body can help in reducing the intensity of migraine pain. It is better to avoid caffeine and other food items that are known to cause dehydration.
You can use a combination of one or more of these options to see what works best for you. These tips have helped many people, and we hope they will help you too. However, in case you have been suffering from severe headaches, the best idea is to consult an experienced medical practitioner; they are the best people to guide you with the right diagnostic and treatment plans.