Fight migraines the simple way

Fight migraines the simple way

One of the many underrated conditions, affecting about 10 per cent of the population worldwide, is the migraine

.

Yet, there is very little knowledge of the impairment in the quality of life of those affected. Because of this, over-the-counter drugs seem to be the best option to fix a temporary problem. Let’s try and understand the pain.

Migraine is a neurovascular disorder, the exact cause of which is not yet elucidated. Research shows that the condition is hereditary. It is very common in premenopausal women and hence, a hormonal cause is also postulated. Dilation of blood vessels which press upon the pain-sensitive coverings of the brain is thought to be the cause of the headache.

Symptoms

Two types of migraines have been identified based on the presence of an aura, which is seen  only in a third of those affected. The headache is usually throbbing, typically limited to one side of the forehead. It is often preceeded by nausea, fatigue, photophobia and visual disturbances.

Triggers

Stress, excess noise, excess light, hunger, sunlight and certain foods are well identified precipitants. Foods rich in tyramine like cheese, meat with nitrates as preservatives, MSG, fermented foods, chocolate, wine and beer can trigger an attack. Attacks are more common in epilepsy patients and sleep deprivation acts as a precipitant too for a migraine attack.

In an imminent attack, the habit of popping a painkiller and continuing work lead to insufficient control of symptoms, which in turn gets people addicted to more powerful over-the-counter, self-prescribed drugs impairing the quality of life.

Usually all that needs to be done is to take a mild painkiller and if required, an anti-emetic, and sleep soundly  in a dark, silent and cool room for a couple of hours.  Only when the pain is intolerable and attacks too frequent, should medical help be sought.

Intake of surplus amounts of fruits rich in anti-oxidants is proven to decrease the frequency of attacks. A vision test is important so that any visual difficulty is diagnosed early and stress is reduced.

For patients aged above 40, it is important to get your blood pressure checked  twice a year. Powerful drugs are required only when the simple measures don’t work.

Prophylactic therapy in the form of antidepressants, anticonvulsant drugs and calcium channel blockers are used in recalcitrant cases. Research on decompressive surgeries for migraine is ongoing.

With the knowledge of the abovementioned migraine triggers, it is now simple to deal with migraine, isn’t it? The best method of treatment is non-medical prevention with changes in one’s lifestyle. It is important to ensure you get at least eight hours of sleep every day. Excessive noise like movie theatres and music are best avoided.

Umbrellas and sunglasses in summer reduce the exposure to sunlight and keep the migraine at bay.

Precipitant food items should be avoided. These simple methods are ignored due to a lack of knowledge and neglect on the part of the patient and over-dependency on drugs. It is crucial for people to know that a well-balanced lifestyle is all that is required to lead a reasonably healthy life.

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