I’ve been getting migraines since I was sixteen. The kind that flatten you, waste your energy and your precious time. If you’re a migraine sufferer then you know how debilitating they can be and finding the cause or relief is that diaphanous pie in the sky.
I’ve been crushed by migraines for hours at a time, sometimes a whole day. They make the light hurt your eyes, and the softest sounds like a piercing shrill. I’ve endured dizziness, queasiness and been violently nauseous to the point where it once gushed out of my nose. Sorry, for the graphic description, I just have to give those who don’t know, the true gory picture. A couple of paracetamol just won’t do the trick. And if they do, then it’s not a migraine.
Initially I thought they were being brought on by the stress of high school exams, but over the years I found the cause seems to be related to diet and environment as well. Did you know that certain foods can trigger your migraines? I was lucky enough to figure out mine as well as some lesser known ways to help ease migraine pain. None of these are meant as medical advice. They are based on my experiences over time. I hope some of these tips I’ve learnt over the years will help ease your pain if you’re a sufferer too.
- Certain foods like the 3 C’s – cheese, chocolate, coffee and other caffeine-containing foods, and habits like smoking can trigger migraines. Keep a food diary when you have migraines to help you figure out if they are contributing to yours. I ate a lot of cheese and drank a lot of coffee. When I started reducing the frequency of both of these I saw that my migraines became less frequent as well. I would still have it just not on a daily basis. I also reduced the amount of chocolate I was having. No mean feat for a chocoholic. It’s still my favourite treat, as long as I keep it under control. So a block or 3. Just not the whole slab. Avoid drinking coffee if you have a headache. The caffeine can aggravate it and before you know it, you’re in migraine central.
- Heat is a big factor for me. Summer weather and too much bright sun can also bring on migraines. If you’re prone, invest in a good pair of sunglasses and wear a hat if you’re going to be in the sun.
- Sleep, sleep, sleep. I have yet to to encounter a true a medical cure for migraines. You can only sleep it off or wait it out. Avoid bright or noisy areas. Lie down in a dim or dark room, or use an eye mask to block out the light. Ear plugs to block out sound can help as well. If you feel a headache coming on, and before it becomes a full-blown migraine take a mild painkiller like paracetamol. If you miss this gap and the headache goes over into a migraine then nothing but sleep is going to work. Don’t fight it. Trying to function like normal in spite of the pain makes it worse. If you’re at work and are going to need to drive home, that drive home is as dangerous to others on the road as it is to yourself. Rather take that few hours to try and sleep it off.
- Some aromatherapy oils can be helpful. Soothing lavender or peppermint oil rubbed onto the temples can bring relief if the migraine is still in the early stages. I used to carry a mini roll-on bottle of headache-relieving oil from the Aromatic Apothecary in my handbag. I’ve stopped using it since changing my diet has things more under control but it’s great to have on hand.
- This one might be a little strange. I read about it somewhere years ago, and strange as it sounds, it works. When you have a migraine, try to relax the muscles in your mouth. Part your teeth and keep your tongue in the middle of your mouth, neither touching the bottom nor the roof of your mouth. It’s tricky to maintain as you naturally tend to bite your teeth together, but trust me this really does relieve the tension of the migraine.
- Our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was said to have suffered much from migraines. He would tie a cloth tightly around his head for relief from the pain.
Do you have some tips on what works for you? Please leave a comment on this post that you think could be helpful for other migraine sufferers.