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Understanding and Combatting Migraines

March 13, 2019

When is a headache more than a headache? When it’s an intense, pulsating migraine. Its causes and cures are different than a headache so knowing your symptoms is important in order to treat the pain. Here are the ways to tell them apart – and how to find relief.

Migraines can be described as an intense, throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head, in the temple area or behind the eye or ear. In addition to head pain, migraine sufferers also experience nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. Some people may see spots or lines called auras before the pain sets in. Migraines can last up to two days.

Migraine Triggers

You may be able to better control migraine attacks by avoiding the lifestyle and food triggers that cause them. Start by keeping a headache diary. Write down any stressful events or body changes that you notice such as neck stiffness, increased thirst or constipation in the day before a migraine. And track the foods you eat in that time period. It can help you pinpoint if one or more of these might be a trigger for you:

  • Alcohol (often red wine) that contains tyramine
  • Soy products or aged cheeses (blue cheese, cheddar, parmesan and Swiss), which contain tyramine
  • Cold cuts, hot dogs and other processed meats, which have tyramine and nitrates
  • MSG, a flavor enhancer found in soups, spices and fast food
  • Aspartame, a no­ calorie sweetener
  • Lack of sleep
  • Skipped meals or a dip in blood sugar
  • Smoking
  • Too much caffeine
  • Hormone changes during the menstrual cycle
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Changes in the weather
  • Bright lights or loud noises

Bring your headache diary with you on your next doctor’s visit. It can help determine the best treatment options.

Migraine Treatment

There are two types of medications available to treat migraines: acute treatment and preventive. Acute treatment stops migraines after they occur. It includes over­-the-­counter drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, as well as prescription pain relievers. Preventive medicine is taken regularly to reduce the frequency or severity of migraines. Your doctor can tell you about any side effects of taking acute or preventive drugs. You might also want to discuss if alternative therapies would be helpful: acupuncture, massage therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, extra B­12 vitamin or magnesium.

If you still have questions about migraines and headaches, feel free to call Riverside Medical Clinic. The staff is happy to talk to you and help you find relief. Riverside Medical Clinic is the largest provider of ambulatory care in the Inland Empire. With multiple locations, you’re sure to find a clinic close to you. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (951) 683-6370.

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