“I can’t, I have a migraine!”. Very often, this the exact statement that I use when it comes to doing just about anything other than lying down with my eyes closed. If you suffer from migraines, then you will completely understand what I mean by this. Living with migraines is a challenge that many people don’t really understand as they perceive a migraine to be a more severe headache; however, it is so much more than that. Migraines are often classified as a disability, depending on whether they are chronic and the severity of them.
Often, people with migraines have trouble sleeping, cancel social engagements and miss days from work and school because of the pain. Migraine sufferers may also have less energy which affects their physical wellbeing by preventing them from participating in sports and other physical activities.
My personal experience
I often describe my migraines as ‘face aches’ because it doesn’t just affect my head but spreads from my head to my eyes and even in my jaw. My migraines get so severe that my vision blurs and I become nauseous. I can feel when a migraine is about the come on and if I don’t treat it immediately, it starts to accelerate towards a peak. Once I hit the peak, there is no turning back – I will have a migraine for the next few hours and more recently, for a few days. I have been dealing with migraines for over 5 years and am yet to discover my triggers although I am leaning towards hormones, sugary foods and tension in my neck, back and jaw. The tension in my jaw is caused by bruxism which is a result of excessive jaw clenching brought on by stress. Last year, I had 20 botox injections into my jaw muscles, so that I couldn’t clench them. It worked like a charm but the down-side is that the injections only last for six months and they are very expensive. I am currently considering whether to dig into my pockets and pay to have it done again.
What are migraines?
A migraine can be described as severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on just one side of the head. For me, it’s usually the left side. It’s often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines can cause significant pain and can be so severe that the pain is disabling. Warning symptoms known as ‘aura’ usually occur before the peak. These can include flashes of light, blind spots, or tingling on one side of the face or in your arm or leg. Often though, it is usually starts off with a mild headache.
Common causes of migraines
It may seem odd that I have suffered with migraines for so many years yet not discovered my triggers. There are over 50 major causes of migraines and each one needs to be specifically tested and isolated to be sure that it is the cause. Unfortunately, I have never managed to fully isolate my triggers despite keeping a food and physical symptoms diary.
The most common causes are listed below:
- Hormonal changes in women either linked to ovulation, pregnancy, menstrual cycles, menopause or hormone medication such as the contraceptive pill or HRT
- Skipping meals or fasting
- Stress and anxiety often brought on by work (Refer to my work-life balance blog)
- Sensory stimuli. Bright lights and sun glare can induce migraines, as can loud sounds
- Strong smells including perfume, paint thinner and second-hand smoke
- Changes in wake-sleep patterns
- Intense physical exertion.
- Lack of water (Refer to my water blog)
- Changes in the environment or air pressure
- Sinus issues such as sinusitis
- Medications such as oral contraceptives
- Foods such as those shown in the image below:
My personal consequences of medication
My usual go-to for migraines has been painkillers and anti-inflammatories, which have unfortunately lead to further consequences for me. I was recently diagnosed with stomach ulcers which they presume is a result of taking too many pain killers, that have interfered with my stomach acid and thus my stomach lining. Further to this, my stomach has become extremely sensitive to certain high fibre foods which has brought about an intolerance to almonds and bananas, which were part of my favourite recipes and my weekly diet.
Natural remedies for migraines
Due to my recent diagnosis, I have had to find other ways to combat my migraines before they reach their peak. My Doctor has recommended that I take Panadol which is safe for people with stomach ulcers and doesn’t interfere with your stomach acid and stomach lining, like other pain killers. Unfortunately, these haven’t worked so well for me as they are not as strong as other pain killers either! Below are some of the recent remedies that I have started trying as well as some that I have heard from friends and family.
- Drink Peppermint or Chamomile tea
- Submerge your feet in hot water with a bag of frozen peas on the back of your neck. The extremities in temperature should help ease the head pain.
- Cut down on gluten
- Take magnesium supplements
- Massage Peppermint and Lavender oil on your temples
- Massages and Chiropractic care
- Eating water based plants and vegetables such as watermelon, cucumber, strawberries, celery, cauliflower and oranges.
- A bath with 2 cups of apple cidar vinegar
- Stretching and yoga
- Hot or Cold compress
- Daith piercing – quite a contraversial one but if you would like to read more, I found this great article and webpage: The Daily Migraine
I am still in the process of trying to find ways to ease my migraines, especially when I am at work and without taking any serious medications. If you have any recommendations or personal experiences, I would love to hear all about it. Please email me or comment below!