How To Manage Migraines

Don’t put up with migraine headaches – here’s how to manage them.

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Keep a migraine diary

Migraine triggers vary so keep a diary to pinpoint yours. Common causes of migraines include caffeine, wine, stress or relief from stress (the release of tension can be a trigger), dehydration, skipping meals, too little sleep or lie-ins. Some people are affected by certain foods such as cheese, chocolate or ice cream.

Avoid as many triggers as possible, eat, drink and sleep regularly, and stop consuming all caffeine, including tea, cola and chocolate as well as coffee.

Eat regularly

A drop in blood sugar is connected to migraine, so eat little and often to keep blood sugar steady. Go for low-GI carbohydrates such as wholewheat pasta, wholegrain bread, rye bread, oat cakes and porridge, along with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Eat breakfast within half an hour of rising. Most importantly, eat just before bed – otherwise you take in no food for hours and your blood glucose drops very low, which is why people often wake with a migraine. Dehydration is a trigger, so drink plenty of water, juices and herbal teas.

Have a routine

A regular routine is very important, so try to get up and go to bed at the same time. Quality sleep is essential and poor sleep can potentially spell a day – or more – of migraine pain. Avoid late nights and try to hit the sack at about the same time each night. Ensure solid sleep by taking half an hour to unwind before bed. Try adding lavender oil to a diffuser, and have a warm milky drink. Make sure your room is dark and quiet enough; try an eye mask and ear plugs if it isn’t.

Try natural migraine treatment

Research shows people who experience migraines may have low levels of the mineral magnesium, but taking a magnesium supplement with a dose of at least 600mg may help prevent the headaches.

Taking vitamin B and folate can also help improve the severity and frequency of migraines. Other studies have found that the herbs feverfew and butterbur could help cut migraine attacks. Try these natural approaches, one at a time, to pinpoint what’s effective for you.

Learn to relax

Remember that migraine can be your body’s way of telling you to slow down, so try to build relaxation into your day. Take your lunch break. Go for a walk, or sit down with a magazine and a cup of tea. And try relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation.

Try to unwind in the evening – have a long bath with calming lavender oil and sip a mug of soothing chamomile tea. If you find it hard to switch off, a relaxation or meditation class might help.

This article has been adapted from longer features appearing in Healthy, the Holland & Barrett magazine. Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.

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