According to international healthcare group Bupa, about two million Australians are affected by migraines. Health specialists attribute the concerning statistics to the predominantly unhealthy lifestyle that most people have nowadays which is composed of a poor diet, stressful daily demands, and lack of schedule regularity. Aside from these, there are other known migraine triggers, such as bright lights, loud noises and certain odours or perfumes, smoking or exposure to smoke, alcohol consumption, menstrual cycle fluctuations pills, hormone fluctuations during the onset of menopause, foods containing tyramine, monosodium glutamate (MSG), or nitrates, and other foods such as chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, avocado, banana, citrus, onions, dairy products and fermented or pickled foods.
However, doing without these triggers rarely offers consistent results (many just prefer to be on the safe side and avoid or minimise exposure to or consumption of the triggers), which only goes to show how complicated migraine could be.
Migraine comes in two different types, the first one being migraine with aura. This basically means that the condition has neurological symptoms commonly in the form of visual disturbances like blind spots, coloured spots, stars, flashing lights before the eyes, tunnel vision, temporary blindness, and zigzag lines. Other symptoms include dizziness, numbness, weakness and vertigo (fainting, paralysis, confusion, etc.). Migraine with aura is often described as the earlier stage of a migraine; it usually just lasts an hour, but is often followed by the second type of migraine, which is worse.
The second one is migraine without aura, which is what about 80 percent of migraine sufferers really complain about. The pain is concentrated in the front of the head, on one or both sides of the temples. This is the type of headache that can linger for days (up to 72 hours) and really render people useless because it’s pain combined with a myriad of vestibular symptoms which include nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, unsteadiness, and extreme sensitivity to movement, light and sounds.
Whether you frequently suffer the former or the latter type, one thing’s for sure: The occurrence of migraine can compromise your life. Therefore, it’s crucial to get appropriate treatment as soon as possible. There are prescription drugs that you can get, but they are not consistent in alleviating the symptoms. There are other options to try which are safer and non-toxic.
It’s important to mention that pain specialists stress that there’s no cure for migraine, but methods to reduce frequency of occurrence and pain management are present; some of them are provided below and they are often integrated with a migraine pain management programme.
- Chiropractic treatment – Moving, stretching and manipulating the spine has proven to be an effective preventive treatment for migraines. Studies conducted on the efficacy of chiropractic treatment reveal that migraine sufferers report minimised pain and fewer attacks after receiving regular treatments. At the same time, those who were taking medication no longer needed to comply with the prescribed dosage and frequency because pain was more manageable and occurred less frequently.
- Acupuncture – Studies also suggest that this Asian healing method/therapy using needles can reduce pain and frequency of attacks. Ditto with acupressure, which is a good alternative for those who aren’t keen on having needles stuck into them.
- Psychiatric evaluation – Since stress typically causes flare-ups, addressing stress contributors paired with psychological “reconditioning” is believed to prevent the occurrence of a migraine.
- Relaxation techniques – Deep breathing and certain exercises can fight the body’s stress response and halt a migraine attack.
- Exercise – Getting in shape promotes better health and releases endorphins which are established pain busters.
- Diet – Doing away with the triggers like chocolates, coffee, nuts, and other types of food can contribute significantly, although not consistently. Also, drinking more water helps because it can flush out toxins that may be contributing to the condition.