Aspirus Health Explains Migraines
Submitted to OnFocus – By some estimates, about 12 percent of Americans experience migraines. Could you be one of them?
Migraines aren’t the same for all people. But that pounding in your head could be a migraine if the pain begins in your forehead, on the side of your head or around your eyes and then gradually gets worse.
“Headaches are frequent, almost everyone will experience one in their lifetime,” said Aspirus Health Nurse Practitioner Tiffany Miller. “Those who suffer from migraines know they have a significant impact on your everyday life. They can hit you while at work, out with you friends or spending time with your family.”
Almost any movement, activity, bright lights or loud noise might make your head hurt even more.
More tipoffs it might be a migraine: You might feel nauseated and vomit. And as happens for about 1 out of 4 people with migraines, yours might begin with a warning sign called an aura, which may include vision changes—such as flashing lights or zig-zag lines—or tingling in the lips, tongue, lower face or the fingers of one hand.
Cause still a mystery
Doctors still don’t know just what happens in the brain to start a migraine. But it is clear people who experience them are susceptible to certain triggers. Among them:
- Loud noises, bright lights or strong smells.
- Skipped meals, alcohol or certain foods—such as aged cheeses and cured meats.
- Not enough sleep.
- Hormonal changes related to menstrual periods and birth control pills.
Tame your headaches
While there’s no cure for migraines, your doctor can tell you about medicines that may stop them from becoming severe. These medicines work best when taken as soon as your headache starts. It may also help to lie down in a dark, quiet room and put a cold cloth over your forehead.
Your doctor may also advise daily medicines—there’s a variety of them—to prevent migraines if they happen frequently or are severe.
To help head off migraines, Aspirus Health experts recommend:
- Eating regularly—don’t miss meals. Fasting increases the risk of migraines.
- Sticking to a regular sleep schedule. Sleep is incredibly important for your overall health, especially when it comes to headaches.
- Slimming down if you’re overweight. Obesity may contribute to migraines.
- Keeping a headache diary for a month. A diary may help you determine what triggers your migraines. Try to figure out your triggers. Then do your best to avoid them.
- Managing stress. Stress and migraines often go hand in hand. You can’t avoid daily stress, but you can help keep it under control.
“Living with migraines is a daily obstacle,” Miller said. “Making health choices can help.”
New treatment options
Aspirus Health offers a variety of ways to help treat headaches without medications. At Aspirus outpatient therapies, patients learn ways to prevent headaches including changing the way they sleep, stand or sit at a desk. They are also shown neck exercises to perform when a headache is present.
“We are able to help patients feel relief without the use of medications,” said Miller. “We teach our patients how to help themselves and treat their own pain.”
Aspirus Health also offers dry needling. Dry needling is a treatment performed by skilled physical therapists who are certified in the procedure. Dry needling treats muscle tissues by using a thin monofilament needle to penetrate the skin. This helps to reduce pain, inactivate trigger points and restore function.
“Dry needling can be used for a wide variety of issues including shoulder, neck, hip and headache pain,” said Miller. “Dry needling is a safe and effective approach for treating and managing pain.”
If traditional treatment options have not been successful, headache therapy is a unique physical therapy treatment approach that might be right for you. For more information, visit aspirus.org/headache-therapy.
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