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Question: I get a migraine every few weeks and it plays havoc with my life. What can I do to prevent a migraine and what can I take to get rid of it? I am sick of missing out on life because of this. - Tumi
Migraines are nasty. They are far more than a 'headache' and can be completely debilitating especially when along with the throbbing headache you are faced with super-sensitivity to light and noise as well as unrelenting nausea and vomiting.
Who are the unlucky that get migraines? Migraines affect one in five women and one in fifteen men (so you are not alone Tumi!). Most sufferers have a family member who gets migraines and so there appears to be a strong genetic link.
There is also a link between the occurrence of migraines and hormonal fluctuations - women are more prone to migraines during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause.
Migraines are also common during periods of stress where lifestyle factors have a large influence: Poor diet, poor sleep habits and intense output (like running a marathon or meeting a work deadline) can also contribute to the onset of a migraine.
So what can you do to put a migraine to bed? Unfortunately, most of the causal factors are unchangeable. Your genes and gender are pretty fixed and many lifestyle factors are probably also beyond your control. But, what you can do is try to reduce the number and severity of the migraines you experience by:
- getting good rest when you can
- eating healthy meals often
- interspersing your day with exercise
- taking deep breaths regularly
- taking pain-killers (paracetamol/aspirin (if over 16 years)/ibuprofen) and retreating to a quiet, dark room to lie down as soon as you get your first symptom
- taking anti-nausea medications to relieve nausea and vomiting
- visiting your GP to see if any prescription medications could be used as a preventative measure
- getting your eyes tested and wearing glasses/sunglasses to protect your eyes from strain/squinting
We hope this helps reduce the disruption to your life, Tumi. We also suggest stashing a 'migraine cocktail' safely somewhere at work/in the car/at home so that relief is never too far away. You can buy this combination of tablets from your pharmacy and they usually contain a mix of painkillers and anti-nausea meds.