Migraines are a neurological condition that affects tens of millions of people across America and many more millions globally. However, despite how prevalent migraines have become, treatment options are still minimal. One of the things that doctors recommend is keeping a migraine journal so that you can learn your triggers and avoid them.
Whether you are writing on paper or using one of the many migraine apps, you may discover that you have some of the more common migraine triggers. We are going to take a look at some of these and see what you can do to try and reduce your number of attacks by avoiding what could potentially set off the next episode.
Migraine Trigger Number One – Stress
Stress is the top trigger of many common health conditions. This is because the modern world maintains high-stress levels like never before. Common causes of stress include high-pressure jobs with deadlines. The heavy weight of debt, not just from credit cards, but also from mortgages, student loans, and the like. Then there is the traffic we have to battle on the way to and from work each day. For some, simple things like watching the news or checking social media can cause stress levels to spike.
When stress levels elevate, the body releases hormones to help you deal with the stressful situation. These hormones raise blood pressure, tense muscles, and have other effects that can be negative for the body when they last too long. There are even let-down migraines that occur when stress hormone levels drop off suddenly after being elevated for an extended period of time. How can you combat this difficult migraine trigger?
Coping with Stress
There are some quick ways to drop stress levels. From taking a break to taking a vacation, knowing when to say when is essential. A massage, hot bath, or time spent on a favorite hobby can be just what you need. However, if you are dealing with chronic stress, you may need to do more. Here are a few tips for dealing with stress in the long run.
- Avoid unnecessary debt – By paying down debts and avoiding unnecessary debts, you can do a lot to reduce that nagging weight that always seems to be hanging over your head.
- Have the right view of work – You need to work hard to earn a living for yourself or your family. However, work is not what life is all about. All work and no play doesn’t just make a person dull – it can lead to long-term issues with stress.
- Work on your relationships – Positive relationships help to reduce stress. Complicated relationships with family, workmates, etc., can be a constant source of stress.
The Next Big Trigger – Medication Overuse
It is tough to shake the attitude that people seem to have toward over the counter medications – that they are all safe, and you can take them however you like. The fact is that over the counter drugs have warning labels just like prescription medications. You have to take them as directed, and they are never meant for frequent or long-term use. This is especially true of pain relievers and headache medications. One of the many possible side effects is rebound headaches. Do you take over the counter pain relievers regularly? Could they be causing rebound or medication overuse headaches? What can you do about it?
Coping with Medication Overuse Headaches
The only way to know for sure if some of your migraines are actually rebound headaches is to stop taking the pills. A couple of weeks without the medication should be enough to get it out of your system. If you find that you get fewer migraines without the meds, then you need to be sure that you are using them very sparingly – only when you absolutely can’t muddle through or just take the day off and sit in the dark for a while.
As a side note, if you believe a prescription medication could be contributing to your headaches, speak with your doctor before making any changes so you can weigh the possible risks versus benefits together.
Avoidable Lifestyle Triggers of Migraines
Lifestyle triggers are some of the most preventable. What are some of the things you may be doing that lead to more frequent or severe migraines?
- Poor sleep schedule
- Skipping meals
- Lack of exercise
- Eating foods you are sensitive to
- Having too much or not enough caffeine
- Looking at mobile devices/screens all day
- Using poor posture
By correcting some of these lifestyle triggers, you may dramatically be able to reduce how often you get migraines. However, tracking your triggers doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. For genuine long-term relief from migraines, you need to go to the source. Here is one possibility that frequently gets overlooked.
The Link Between the Neck and Migraines
One of the most common symptoms of migraines is neck pain. It is present for about 75% of migraines either before or during the attack phase. This may be due to a connection between upper cervical misalignments and migraines. When the C1 and C2 vertebrae are out of alignment, it can affect brainstem function, blood flow to the head, cerebrospinal fluid drainage, and more. These negative central nervous system impacts may be related to the onset of migraines.
If you struggle with frequent migraines, especially if you have a history of head or neck injuries, upper cervical specific chiropractic may be the natural option for you. Call a practitioner in your area to learn more and to schedule an appointment.