If you get regularly, you know how debilitating they can be. The onset of migraine symptoms can feel like a death knell for your entire day–and sometimes the week. Most people who suffer from migraines would do anything to stop having them. Unfortunately, many of the patients who seek treatment for migraines from their doctor don’t find treatments that work. Instead, many are simply prescribed painkillers and sent on their way — a dangerous solution, since opiates can actually transform episodic migraines into chronic ones.
The journey towards migraine relief is a long one for many sufferers. But every journey has to start with a single step, so here are five great ones to start.
Keep a Migraine Diary
There are a handful of common migraine triggers that affect many migraine sufferers similarly, but no one can tell you what your specific migraine triggers are. Unless you know your triggers, you can’t avoid them. That’s why many migraine patients should keep a migraine diary. In this diary, you can keep track of each migraine: What foods you ate, how well or poorly you slept, where you went and what you did before each migraine attack, as well as the order, duration, and severity of your symptoms. Over time, a diary like this can become an invaluable resource for identifying trends in your migraines.
Studies have shown that tobacco can cause migraine headaches. Research indicates that more than five cigarettes a day can trigger headaches. Even if you smoke less than that, smokers get more migraines on average than non-smokers. (Not to mention that smoking has dire risks for both your oral health and overall health.) Quitting smoking or using other tobacco products could significantly reduce the frequency and severity of your migraines.
Get Some Shut-Eye
Researchers from Missouri State University have found that the amount of sleep you get is intrinsically tied to your body’s ability to suppress or trigger chronic pain. This means that if you’re not getting enough rest, that sleep deprivation could be contributing to your migraines.
Skip the Coffee
This one goes hand-in-hand with the last point: If you’re getting more sleep, maybe you won’t need a coffee habit! Caffeine is an extremely common trigger for migraines, so try weaning yourself off of your morning cuppa for a higher likelihood of migraine relief.
But this one comes with a caveat: the relationship between migraines and caffeine is complicated. Your migraine diary will tell you how your caffeine consumption relates to your migraines.
See a Dentist
This one might seem off-the-wall, but some migraine sufferers don’t realize that the root cause of their headaches is an orofacial issue: Temporomandibular joint disorder, more commonly known as TMJ. The tension created in the jaw can spread throughout the face, neck, and shoulders, causing extremely painful headaches that may be misdiagnosed by your primary care doctor.