More than 39 million Americans suffer from migraines. Of those 39 million people, 4 million (about 10% of migraineurs) suffer from chronic migraines. This means that a person has 15 or more migraine days per month. While even just one to two migraines per month can be debilitating, you can understand why chronic migraines could quickly lead to complete disability. If you suffer from chronic migraines, how can you cope? Here are 8 suggestions for living with chronic migraines.
#1 Learn Your Triggers
Knowing what triggers your migraines might be able to help you reduce how often they occur. While some of the more common migraine triggers like weather conditions are unavoidable, there are some migraine triggers that you can control such as certain foods, beverages, and additives that you can take out of your diet.
#2 Quit the Smoking Habit
Did you know that smoking can be a major migraine trigger? Nicotine leads to constricted blood vessels. This can result in less blood making it to the brain. Since blood flow to the brain has been connected to migraine occurrence, eliminating activities that reduce blood flow is important. You can also work to increase blood flow through exercise and other means.
#3 Control Caffeine Intake
A little caffeine can be good for you. In fact, it can be one of the things that help to improve blood flow to the brain. But too much caffeine can lead to a habit. It may be a legal and mostly harmless one, but caffeine is still a drug. Migraines can signal dependency and withdrawal.
#4 Pay Attention to Sleep
Creating the right environment for sleep can help your migraines a lot. First of all, sleep helps the body to be able to control pain response properly. If you don’t get enough sleep, your migraines may hurt more than they otherwise would. Second, lack of sleep can serve as a trigger. To improve your sleep, try these suggestions:
- Keep the room dark and quiet. If you can’t block out noises, try drowning them out with white noise.
- Maintain a regular schedule. Getting up and going to bed at the same times seven days a week can help the body to remember when it is time to sleep. It can thus begin melatonin production at the proper time each night.
- Don’t use mobile devices in bed. The light from the screen may actually confuse the brain into thinking it is still daytime, thereby inhibiting melatonin production and affecting normal sleep cycles.
- Get a sleep study done, especially if you often feel unrefreshed after a good night’s sleep. You may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which prevents a person from getting into the deeper phases of sleep required by the brain.
#5 Get Regular Cardio
This can be tough for a migraineur since physical strain can make a migraine worse. That means getting into a regular schedule when you have good days and maintaining at least a little activity on bad ones to keep up the routine. Exercise helps reduce pain levels in the body. It also improves circulation which can help reduce the frequency of migraines if blood flow to the brain is part of your problem.
#6 Cope Properly with Stress
Stress can trigger migraines. If you use a habit like smoking to control stress, the nicotine may trigger migraines. You have to find positive ways to deal with stress. Since you may not be able to change all of the stress causing circumstances in your life, here are a few things you may want to try:
- Take up a stress-relieving hobby like reading, playing an instrument, or some type of art form.
- Exercise regularly as this can reduce stress by affecting hormone levels in the brain that make you feel better.
- Try using a diffuser to produce relaxing scents from essential oils such as lavender or peppermint.
- Talk with a trusted confidant. It can be a friend, family member, or even a therapist.
#7 Quit the Over-the-Counter (OTC) Pain Meds
Did you know that taking OTC pain relievers more than once or twice a week can actually cause headaches? These medications are not intended for frequent or long-term use. People usually associate not needing a prescription with a medication being safe and free from side effects. This can result in a cycle of pain medication that turns frequent migraines into a chronic issue.
#8 Try Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care
If you have never heard of upper cervical chiropractic, we’d like to introduce you to this niche in the chiropractic field. It involves very precise adjustments to the top two bones of the neck. These gentle adjustments are long-lasting and give the body the time it needs to heal from the effects of the misalignment. Some of these effects can include:
- Restricted blood flow to the brain
- Inhibited brainstem function
- Reduced cerebrospinal fluid drainage
Any of these factors can be the underlying cause of migraines. As a result, it makes sense to get your upper cervical spine checked by a practitioner who specializes in these two vertebrae, especially if neck pain occurs before or during your migraines.
To learn more about upper cervical chiropractic care, contact a practice in your area. You can find one near you by using the search feature on this website. You may be a gentle adjustment away from fewer or less severe migraines. Some patients have even become completely migraine-free after receiving the proper care.