Did You Know?
In the U.S., more than 38 million people suffer from migraines with 5 million of those being chronic migraine sufferers. Migraines occur most commonly in women, young to middle-aged adults, low income groups, and Caucasian people. Migraines can be quite debilitating and cause you to miss class or work which can then turn into additional financial, school, or emotional stress.
What is a Migraine?
A migraine is a recurrent throbbing headache that typically affects one side of the head and is often accompanied by other bothersome symptoms. Migraines often last longer and are more painful than normal headaches. Some symptoms migraine sufferers may experience in addition to headaches are nausea, vomiting, light or sound sensitivity, fatigue, dizziness, vision changes, and aura.
What Triggers Migraines?
Migraines can be triggered by a number of things but the most common cause is stress or anxiety. Other triggers of migraines include hormonal changes in women, foods, overuse of medications, environmental changes, depression, or obesity.
How Can You Treat Migraines?
It is an awful feeling when you feel the start of a migraine coming on, especially when you have a big exam the next day that you need to study for. It is a good idea to take an over-the-counter medication when you feel a migraine starting. Some options include ibuprofen (Motrin® or Advil®), naproxen (Aleve®), acetaminophen (Tylenol®), or a combination medication containing acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine (Excedrin®). However, it is not a good idea to be taking these medications every day or else it can have a rebound effect and cause your migraines to be even worse (known as a medication overuse headache). Sometimes, a migraine will not be relieved by a medication over the counter in which case you would want to see your doctor. He or she may prescribe you a medicine to help treat or prevent your migraines. Some other ways to help treat migraine symptoms without medication include drinking plenty of water, laying down in a dark and quiet room, light massaging of the head and neck, and using pure grade essential oils.
How Can You Prevent Migraines?
If you have been suffering with migraines, it is important to keep a “headache journal” and log the severity and location of your migraine. You should also log what activities you were doing and what foods you were eating that day. It is also a good idea to log what you did, if anything, to help relieve symptoms of your migraine. Keeping a headache journal can help you and/or your doctor better understand the trends of your migraines and notice any triggers that cause them. If you notice a trend in triggers, it is a good idea to avoid those triggers. Since stress and anxiety are big triggers for migraines, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle with skills to practice stress management. Some ways you can manage stress include exercising daily, eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated throughout the day, meditating or practicing yoga, or other activities that help release endorphins and relax your mind.
Lindsay Ecclestone, PharmD Candidate 2019
The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy
Migraine Statistics. https://migraine.com/migraine-statistics/