Everyone experiences a headache from time to time, with symptoms ranging from mildly irritating to severely debilitating. But how do you know when you’re experiencing a headache, and when the pain in your head is symptomatic of a migraine? Fewer than 50% of migraine patients consult a physician regarding their symptoms, and thus, at least 50% of all migraine sufferers go undiagnosed. Migraine patients do not just suffer from physical pain, they are also three times more likely to experience depression than those without chronic migraines. Rather than relying on over-the-counter and prescription medications, people are turning to natural remedies for headache and migraine management. Pharmaceuticals can be expensive, especially for those who suffer from migraines regularly. Over half of migraine patients experience at least one attack every month, and 13% say that they will have at least one attack per week. In order to stay healthy and most effectively treat yourself, you first need to know the basic facts about migraines.
Common Migraine Symptoms
- Moderate to severe throbbing or pounding pain affecting the whole head, or shifting from one side to the other
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light, odors, and sounds
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Vision impaired by bright and flashing dots, wavy lines, and/or blind spots
Common Migraine Triggers
- Sensory stimuli – Some people develop migraines due to bright lights, loud sounds, or unusual smells.
- Foods and food additives – Salty and processed foods have been found to induce migraines in some people. Aspartame, a common sweetener, may cause migraines for some patients, as well.
- Alcohol and caffeine – Wine is a common trigger for migraines in some individuals.
- The environment – Changes in the environment, such as shifts in the weather or barometric pressure can cause migraines.
- Hormonal changes – For women who are known to experience migraines, fluctuations in estrogen are a common trigger. This is often reported during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause. Hormonal medications like some oral contraceptives may increase the severity of migraines, or stop them from happening altogether.
Natural and holistic migraine treatment
- Acupuncture – Some patients claim that acupuncture can produce the same results as drugs, but without the harmful side effects.
- Relaxation – Restorative yoga has become a common practice, while massage can release muscle tension, and tai chi can help you become more aware of your body and detect oncoming migraines. Many people are using relaxation and meditation techniques to stay healthy in other areas, as well.
- Ice – Doctors recommend ice packs for treating migraine symptoms.