Sadly, headaches and migraines are part of many people's lives and about half of the world's population suffers from headaches.
June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, so it's important to understand these conditions better. By equipping yourself with valuable knowledge, you can take proactive steps to manage and prevent migraines and headaches which will give you a better quality of life.
Below we'll cover important information to help you navigate this common but painful and often debilitating condition.
NOTE: Always check with your doctor or healthcare provider for any medical concern you may have and call 911 for any emergency involving severe head pain.
Understanding Migraines and Headaches
Migraines and headaches are not just minor inconveniences they can significantly impact your daily life.
Migraines are intense, throbbing headaches that are often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, sensitivity to light and sound and visual disturbances.
Headaches are varying in intensity and are often in the forehead, temples or back of the neck. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most common headache type is a tension headache which is described as a tightness or pressure in the head.
Both migraines and headaches may be triggered by various factors, including stress, hormone fluctuations, changes in atmospheric pressure, dehydration, allergies or tension.
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Identifying Your Triggers
Recognizing your specific migraine and headache triggers can be key to managing and preventing them. Keep a headache diary to track potential triggers which may include certain foods, changes in weather or atmospheric pressure, lack of sleep/insomnia or specific activities. By identifying patterns, you can make lifestyle adjustments to avoid or minimize triggers.
Lifestyle Modifications to Help
Adopting healthy habits can play a role in reducing the frequency and severity of migraines and headaches. Below are a few lifestyle tips that may help:
- Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule: Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night if possible.
- Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration which is a common headache trigger.
- Eat a Balanced Diet: Avoid processed foods, caffeine, alcohol and foods known to trigger your headaches or migraines. Focus on eating more vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
- Manage Your Stress: Engage in activities like meditation, deep breathing or hobbies that help you relax and reduce stress levels.
Medication and Treatment Options
If lifestyle modifications don't make enough of an impact, consult your doctor or healthcare professional. They may recommend specific medications or therapies to manage your migraines or headaches. It's important to discuss your symptoms, medical history and any other medications you're taking to ensure the safest and most effective treatment plan.
Dealing with migraines or chronic headaches can be emotionally and physically draining. Consider joining support groups or online communities where you can connect with others facing similar challenges. Sharing experiences, coping strategies, and finding emotional support can make a significant difference in managing these conditions.
Did you know that headaches may be helped by good posture? Read our 8 Tips to Improve Your Posture.