About 80% of sufferers have a family history of migraine. Migraine can strike anyone more common in women and usually appears for the first time during early adulthood. Migraine is a condition that causes severe, recurring pain that is often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. During an attack, it is very difficult for the person to function normally, and many people find that they must lie down in a quiet, dark place until the pain eases up. Scientists are unsure about the exact cause of migraines, but many believe they are due to malfunctions in the nervous system that are triggered by imbalances in brain chemicals. One thing is certain, though, and that is that a change in blood flow in the brain is a key element of a migraine headache.
When the migraine occurs, it is likely to produce:
- head pain that pulses or throbs
- pain that worsens with physical activity
- moderate to severe pain (frequently on one side of the head only)
- nausea, sometimes with vomiting sensitivity to light and sound
Managing migraine stress is one of the major migraine triggers, but what is unusual is that the headaches often occur during the let down phase that follows a stressful event or period rather than at the most stressful point. Many women find that changing hormone levels during menstruation and ovulation may also lead to migraines. What you eat can also affect the frequency or intensity of a migraine.
Foods that are know to cause trouble include:
- chocolate and caffeine
- alcohol, especially beer and red wine
- aged and processed meats
- aged and processed cheeses
- pickled, fermented, and marinated food
- dairy products such as buttermilk and sour cream
- food additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG)
A headache diary is a simple record of what foods you eat and when you eat them, what activities you participate in, the time of day a headache strikes, your emotional state when you get a headache, and where you were and what you were doing when the headache struck. After a while, you'll probably being to see a pattern. Preventive medicines are used in people who have two or more debilitating headaches a month, who take pain relief medications more than twice a week, and whose pain isn't relieved by medication. Headache is such a common problem that many people suffer in silence because they don't think anything can be done. Help is available for recurring headaches, all you have to do is ask for it. A good first step is to ask your family doctor for help.
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