Let’s talk about migraines for a second.
Migraines are not just bad headaches.
Migraines are not sinus headaches.
Migraines are not cluster headaches.
Migraines are not stress headaches.
Migraines have very specific characteristics that come in different combos and variations, but are unique in their own way.
Some characteristics of a migraine:
- pain on one side of body/head/face
- stabbing pain behind one eye
- Light/sound/smell auras (you could see spots or smell a strong odd scent)
- numbness on one side of the body
- sensitivity to light and sound
- overall pain level of 5-10 (depending on when you take your meds, if you catch it in time for some relief, or if you’re coming down off of one.)
These are just the top characteristics that I, personally, have encountered in my almost 20 years of chronic migraines.
What is considered chronic?
- 15 or more full-on migraines per month, for more than 3 months.
- typically interspersed with headaches on the off days.
- weather changes
- hormonal changes
- too much/not enough food
- too much/not enough sleep
- over stimulation (loud sounds, over excitement, strong scents, etc)
- too much/not enough caffeine
- lack of exercise, or too much exercise mixed with not enough food or hydration
- eating late at night
- sleeping position
- wisdom teeth, or teeth issues ( I have a friend who had a permanent retainer, suffered for year, came to find out her retainer was causing the majority of her migraines!)
(to name a few)
Most people who suffer from migraines have one or a few of those. I, personally, am triggered by 13 of those- and I could probably think of more.
I have tried a lot of things:
- no meat
- no dairy
- no gluten
- no sugar
- no grains
- no processed foods
- trigger point injections (highly recommend)
- scans for tumors or MS
- trips to the ER for fluids and shots
- nasal sprays
- oral meds
- essential oils
- ice/heat packs
- menthol roll-on/ spray
- dark room with no sound
- deep tissue sports massage (which I HIGHLY recommend, if I don’t bring it up again.)
- acupressure massage
- schedule/routine consistency
- epsom salt baths
- products people have sent me from their home business (Plexus, the greens, shakeology, etc)
You name it, I have tried it!
Before I got pregnant I was working with a migraine specialist for almost 5 years. Together we came up with a plan that was so good. My migraines went down from 24/month to about 6-8. There were even some months I had as little as 4! (which to me is a miracle.)
This is my pre-pregnancy routine:
- Took 200 MG Topamax daily (migraine preventative, max dosage.)
- My side effects were fuzzy short-term memory.
- Took before bed and it helped with my insomnia.
- Trigger point injections (I have done 6 round of this over the years, it’s pricey if you don’t have good insurance, but it does reset my body in a way nothing else has.)
- Sleep schedule: to bed at the same time every night, wake up same time every morning
- Pescatarian (most veggie protein, some fish)
- Very limited dairy (only yogurt)
- Very limited alcohol
- No desserts really late at night (gave up my late night candy sessions with netflix.)
- Regular daily exercise (even just a walk around the block was helpful)
- Limited screen time outside of work (I was on the computer all day, so it was important to limit that at home.)
When I got a migraine: (if it’s a pain level of 8+ skip to step 21.)
- Dark room and a low volume podcast (to take my mind off the pain.)
- Icepack on head – cannot stress this one enough! This is my favorite, in fact I have crackable ice packs in my car for migraines on the go.
- Biofreeze is helpful if I am out and can’t get to an ice pack.
- If at night- prescribed muscle relaxer to help me sleep and relax my shoulder muscles, (I highly recommend asking for this.)
- Listen to a meditation app to help me breathe (I find i forget to breathe when I’m in so much pain.)
- MIGRAINE YOGA– this works (easing pain) if you are at the VERY beginning of the migraine phase, once you pass the point of no return, don’t bother.
- Have Sex (helps with pain management, absolutely does not take it away.)
- Peppermint oil helps with nausea. I will put a little bit on my wrist and smell it while I try to get to the bathroom in time.
- I have a prescribed nausea med that is a suppository– before you freak out about that, know that if you can’t take down a pill, this is a godsend.
- I try to stay away from excedrin migraine because I get rebound migraines if I take that particular drug too often (link gives a better explanation of the “rebound migraine.”) Once the meds wear off, my body becomes addicted and craves more excedrin. I had to go on a 6 week long detox from ALL pain-killers just to kick that addiction. I try to take ibuprofen or advil migraine, because of their less addictive qualities.
This is what I do:
- 5 or less pain level- max dosage ibuprofen
- 6/7 – Excedrin or Advil Migraine
- 8+ – Imitrex shot
- I drink regular coke, NOT diet coke.
- The sugar brings up glucose levels that are depleted during vomiting, and replenishes fluids.
- The caffeine: “with migraines blood vessels tend to enlarge, but caffeine has “vasoconstrictive” properties that cause the blood vessels to narrow and restrict blood flow, which can aid in head pain relief, (headaches.com.)”
- The carbonation: “…due to its carbonic and phosphoric acid, coca-cola has a pH of 2.6 and resembles the natural gastric acid that’s thought to be important for fiber digestion, (livescience.com)”
- Ice chips help with the dehydration, it’s hard for me to drink water.
- Green smoothie (if I can stomach anything!)
- 1/2 pineapple
- 3 -4 kale leaves
- 1 stalk celery
- 1/4 lemon
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1/2 inch ginger root
- If I know it’s a really really bad one, and I can’t kick it with all of these measures then I will get an Imitrix shot (Sumatriptan.) This is my saving grace. I take about 4 per month, this shot will knock you out, but it is AMAZING for the pain (oral and nasal versions did not work for me.) It literally works within minutes. Now- timing is everything with these things.
And that is it!
next post on Pregnancy migraine tips.