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  • Huma Sheikh

Approach to Treating Migraines and Chronic Headaches


One of the most common questions that patients ask is, "what is the underlying cause or reason for my headaches?" Even after being diagnosed with migraine, they may wonder what is causing them. However, in the case of migraine, the headaches are considered a primary condition. This means that the headaches are not being caused by another reason like a tumor or food allergies.

Migraine is a genetic neurological disease, similar to asthma or diabetes, where there is a genetic predisposition to having episodes that can be exacerbated by environmental triggers. In addition to very severe headaches, migraine can have a number of other associated symptoms. Some of these include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound. Other people can also experience numbness or weakness on one side of their body, trouble speaking or talking or trouble seeing, as well as seeing colors or lights in their vision.

Some people may have only some of these other associated symptoms without the headache.


Although migraine is a genetic disease, the environment plays a huge role in how well migraine is controlled. In addition to medications, helping to control the individual environmental triggers specific to every person can be very helpful in decreasing the number and severity of migraine attacks in a person.


There are five important environmental components that be targeted to help get control of your headaches -


1-Medications 💊 .

There are medications that work on the chemicals that are not in balance when someone is having a migraine. Some of these are specific to migraine while others are general medications that can be used on the most severe symptoms in migraine, including the headache and nausea. Recently, we have made great strides in making medications specifically for migraine with a few still in development. There has been a molecule discovered that is involved in the development of migraine. This has led to the development of medications that are specifically targeted to this molecule. There are also many other ways to treat your headaches besides a pill, including injections and devices that provide relief through electrical stimulation. Either one or a combination of these medications can go a long way in controlling the disabling symptoms.


2- Foods-

Certain people notice that they will consistently get a migraine after ingesting certain foods or alcohol. It can be helpful to do an elimination diet in certain cases to help sort out personal triggers. In general, it is also important to be aware of healthy nutritious foods that can decrease inflammation and lead to overall better health.


3-Stress Control-

When we are stressed, whether is it the daily everyday stresses or major life events, our body responds by releasing certain hormones. Cortisol is one of the hormones released when the body is stressed. Doing complementary treatments like yoga and mindfulness, and techniques, can help to decrease the amount of stress hormone that is released. Patients note that stress is a major trigger for their migraine, therefore it is critical to find ways to help get control of how we react and deal with stress.


4- Physical therapy and Exercise-

These are also important in the treatment of chronic headaches and migraines. Studies have consistently shown a reduction in headaches (migraines) in those who exercise. There are also physical therapy techniques that can reduce inflammation as well as tightness in muscles and joints, esp in the head and neck.


5- Sleep-

Sleep is another big trigger for women and many women report that sleep can help to treat their migraine. The goal is to get consistent and restful sleep. There are many strategies to help determine why someone is not sleeping well and to help them get enough hours of restful and restorative sleep. In addition to finding a reason that you may not be sleeping, it is also important to find effective ways to get deep restorative sleep.


Follow along with these blogs to get much more detailed information on each of these aspects!

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