Living with migraines – tips and tricks I learnt along the way

In September I have shared my migraine story and the latest research I came across and found rather interesting. I also mentioned I’ll do a separate post on what kind of tips and tricks I discovered while battling yet another attack. Or which ones didn’t do anything for me at all. Well let’s see what I have learnt so far.

craftaliciousme seeking creative life living with maigrains tips and tricks

When you suffer from migraines you most likely know all the common things about battling an attack. Some may help but some may not. While you never really manage to avoid it, it may help with some of the symptoms.
Here are a few tricks and tips I figured out to get through an attack. Maybe they will be helpful for you too:

Become a detective

First of you should definitely start tracking your migraines or headaches. Either have a cute notebook or use an app but take the time to write it down. You’ll see patterns and you see re-occuring situations. Once you have a bit of data you will get a chance to understand your individual migraine and how to handle it. If you look for tools check out part I in this series.

Secondly you might read up on some studies. For me that was helpful in realizing and accepting this is a real disease. It’s not something I made up I my had because I didn’t want to be bothered by people. It’s nothing to be ashamed off when having a migraine and not functioning.

Reduce Stimuli

As I have mentioned in the previous post the brain is overheating with too many stimuli. So easiest to do to have the brain recover – give it a break. This could be by staying in a dark room or wearing sunglasses (even in the office – yes I have done that!)

Also helpful is to reduce noise. Wear earplugs or put on headphone with music that is soothing to you. By drowning out background noise your brain only has to focus on one sound. This is something I often do as it is a huge trigger for me.

The perfect way to shut down your brain is sleep off the attack. This one is actually working well. However I could only start doing this once I was self employed. Being an employee I often had to be in the office at certain times so it was not possible. However if you get the chance to get in on your own time, taking two more hours to kill the attack when its starting will have a huge impact . Most of all though don’t feel guilty – it’s very counter productive and yes I am speaking from experience.

Foods

This one is a big part for me. Not only did I analyze more triggers in food that I care for (sugar, wine, etc….) I also realized that I am craving certain foods and dishes when being within an attack. Here is a list of all time favorite migraine foods:

  • Dark bread with butter and salt
  • Rise bowls
  • Spaghetti aglio olio
  • Spaghetti with tuna and capers
  • Fried potatoes or French fries
  • Salted popcorn
  • Oranges
  • Salted cucumber
  • Mainly vegetarian dishes

As you can see high on calories and minerals. I’ve read somewhere (unfortunately don’t know where) that your body holds too much acid when a migraine attack takes place. To reduce the acid the body needs salt to level back to normal acid-base-balance. For me this seems true with all the foods I am craving. Also the nerv cells can only use carbs as energy supply. I found this helpful list (in German) for recommended and not recommended food for migraineurs.

Lately I have heard that magnesium supplements can help reducing migraines as 20% if patients have a deficit.. I have not done that but am intrigued. I will discuss this with my neurologist and hear her thoughts. Do you have any experience with that?

Physical Exercise

Some people are not able to move during an attack. And believe me I know those days. On other occasion however I felt it comforting to do a bit of yoga to get rid or at least minimize the pain. Also helping is taking a walk – preferably in nature with as quiet as possible. The fresh air also helps. If that’s not possible at least open a window or sit on the porch or balcony.

Professional opinion is that you should learn the art of progressive muscle relaxation. I am not patient enough to do this (starting with arms, and legs and toes…) and trying doing it was counter productive to me. I was getting aggressive by the slowness of the progress. But give it a try. However I use parts of the method to mindfully relaxing my neck muscles when I have an attack. I can even hear the muscles crackle when relaxing. Does anyone else has that experience?

Another strong recommendation by professionals is to start doing some sort of endurance exercise to prevent and minimize attacks. Again, I am not big into that. Or maybe my pain is not strong enough yet… This is definitely a part I am struggling with. But I have a lifetime to work on it I guess.

Medication

Yes you need medication. In the early years I always thought I can just bear this attack without pills. I didn’t want to take to many so I rationed myself. This is so wrong! Seriously if you are on triptans it is better to take them as early as possible when a migraine is sending it’s signals. If you are not sure check out this app the have a questionnaire integrated to help you. However if you are using ibuprofen or aspirin it’s another story. For example with ibuprofen you shouldn’t take more than 10 pills a months and never more than 3 days in a row. My experience now even tells me what kind of medication would be best for this attack. Sometimes I use the triptans and other ibuprofen. My doctor even told me I could mix the too if one doesn’t work as they are working differently. (Please check with your doctor if you do that because every medication is different and what works for me can not be adapted!)

Mindset

It’s all in your head – quite literally. Once you accept you’ll live with a migraine it becomes easier. No more guilt of missed get-togethers, low work performance and unhealthy food choices. You can not control a migraine and if you work against it it will control you. It really is true. When I pity myself and believe the entire universe in conspiring against me the migraine dances in my head. If I decide to not give it a second thought and try to get on with my life it isn’t that bad.

I hope you could find some helpful nuggets here. I would love to hear what you are doing to live with your migraines. Please share in the comment so we all have a good list of tips and tricks.

Painless day to you

Tobia

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