Anyone who has experienced chronic migraines understands how debilitating the pain can be. Migraines are severe recurring headaches that are frequently accompanied or preceded by malaise, including symptoms such as nausea and lightheadedness. Migraines are not curable but can be treated with a variety of approaches.
There are many possible contributing factors that increase the risk of being affected by migraines. For example, exposure to certain lights can trigger a migraine when someone has a heightened sensitivity to artificial or natural lighting.
Sensitivities to certain foods and substances can increase vulnerability to migraines.
People with certain health conditions such as alcohol use disorder tend to be more sensitive to the effects of alcohol, which can increase their risk of migraines.
The most effective approach to alleviating an active migraine headache is to treat it with medication as early as possible, as soon as there is an onset of symptoms. Prevention is another critical component of migraine treatment, which can include specialty therapies, lifestyle choices, and self-care habits.
Over-the-Counter Medications for Migraines
There are over-the-counter and prescription medications that can be taken to treat migraines in different stages of onset. Abortive migraine medications are used to treat migraine symptoms just as they begin to go into effect, including nausea, light and sound sensitivity, headache, dizziness, and malaise.
Over-the-counter abortive medications that can alleviate early symptoms of a migraine include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen. These can be combined with caffeine for a synergy of effects to reduce inflammation and blood flow to the brain, which alleviates migraine pain.
Prescription Medications for Migraine Treatment
Ergotamines and triptans are two types of prescription medications that are designed specifically for the treatment of chronic migraines. These can quickly relieve migraine pain by contracting blood vessels. Anti-nausea medications are often used in combination with prescription migraine pain relievers to alleviate severe nausea and vomiting which are common early symptoms of migraines.
Preventive Medications for Migraines
Preventive medications for severe migraines may be recommended to decrease the frequency of migraine episodes, and block oncoming migraine attacks. Anti-seizure medications, blood pressure drugs such as beta-blockers, antidepressants, and botox injections are all forms of preventive medicine that are commonly prescribed to treat chronic migraines.
Acupuncture Therapy for Migraine Relief
In addition or as an alternative to over-the-counter and prescription migraine medications, certain therapies can be effective in preventing migraines from occurring or reducing the frequency.
Acupuncture is a popular therapy in alternative medicine for treating chronic migraines and lessening their debilitating effects. The benefits of acupuncture include stimulating immune function and circulation in the body to provide relief from migraines. The theory behind acupuncture is that it induces a natural healing response in the body to combat inflammation and pain caused by migraines.
Lifestyle Changes and Self-Care
While migraine risk factors and triggers can vary from person to person and are sometimes beyond human control, there are some basic yet effective lifestyle choices that can reduce frequency and vulnerability to migraine attacks, in addition to medications and other forms of treatment.
Stress management, a healthy diet, consistent exercise, adequate sleep, and maintaining a healthy balance, in general, are all preventive measures and simple lifestyle changes that can be made to keep migraines at bay.
Keeping physical and mental health in optimal condition is one of the most effective approaches to managing migraine symptoms, along with other treatments depending on the severity of the condition. Not all types of treatment work effectively for every person, but healthy self-care and lifestyle habits can be the first step towards managing migraine symptoms and minimizing their impact on quality of life.