It’s a new year and time for a new you. If you are one of 38 million Americans that suffer from migraines, you can take steps to make 2019 as pain free as possible.
Unfortunately, migraines go beyond a headache, and can affect your entire body. In the past, doctors had believed that migraines occurred because blood vessels in your brain would open too wide and then close shut again. While this phenomenon does indeed happen, there is much more to a migraine than just blood vessels. While the root cause is still unknown, now doctors believe brain chemicals and nerve pathways are involved.
If your goal in 2019 is to suffer less from migraines, here are a few great ways to get started.
1. Visit a pain specialist
Maybe you’ve tried exercise, you’ve cleaned up your diet and the medicine you have always used is just not working anymore. This year, consider going beyond your primary care doctor and get in touch with a pain specialist.
The technology surrounding treatment of migraines is changing and pain specialists are on top of these methods. Even a simple consultation can help you decide how to move forward with treating your migraines. You might be pleasantly surprised by a new recommendation or a new method (like Botox) that can help treat your migraines, and learn more about the triggers.
Pain specialists are less likely to jump to medications and are more likely to get the whole picture. Preventing migraines is much more desirable than treating them when they arrive.
2. Consider what you put into your body
New Year’s resolutions are almost synonymous with diet and exercise. However, this year, you might consider using this resolution to combat your migraines instead of solely for weight loss or fitness.
Studies show that certain foods can trigger migraines. Consider limiting your caffeine intake for one. Many people report that caffeine or caffeine infused medicine do help their migraines, but too much caffeine can actually make your migraines worse.
Unfortunately, alcohol also needs to be considered for removal from your diet, especially red wine. While you’ve probably heard that a glass of red wine a day is good for you, it might be detrimental to your migraine episodes.
Other foods to consider removing from your diet this year include foods that contain MSG and histamine, chocolate, cheese, artificial sweeteners and cured meats. By eliminating certain foods, you can find what triggers your migraines so as not to have to eliminate so much from your diet.
3. What you might be missing
Eliminating foods and drinks from your diet can be very disappointing. Instead, let’s see what you need to add to your diet. Dehydration can be another culprit of migraines. Drinking tons of water everyday will help stave off migraines.
Next, be sure to also include the healthy foods into your diet. This means choosing whole grains, eating more fruits and vegetables, incorporating more healthy fats and being mindful of sodium.
Lastly, it is best to avoid extreme dieting. A diet that is rich in nutrients and whole foods will the best thing for your body and brain.
4. Reducing stress
If you have suffered from migraines long enough, you’ve probably heard that reducing stress will help. This also might seem like an abstract concept, and stressful in and of itself. However, there are a few things you can do that are simple to help eliminate stress.
First, try doing 10 minutes of yoga a day, or another type of exercise that interests you. Just a simple 10 minute routine can help reduce stress, and in turn reduce the chance of a migraine attack. The added bonus is of course weight loss, as obesity also adds to migraine triggers.
Next, inadequate amounts of sleep can also be stressful and cause migraines. A good night’s sleep can help heal and repair your brain. Irregular sleep schedules will negatively influence your migraines. Make a plan to sleep regularly to reduce your chance of another migraine.
Also, consider reconnecting with people. Going at this alone can be even more overwhelming and depressing. If you cannot find the right people in your family, perhaps a community of migraine sufferers could be influential in your journey.
If you suffer from migraines, you are definitely not alone. Some migraines are so debilitating that you might not even be able to work or function. If you are there or heading in that direction, then it is definitely time to make a change. A pain specialist or an elimination diet might be just the thing you need to make 2019 a migraine free year.