I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Lundbeck to write about the realities of migraine as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own.
A little known fact about me: I have regular migraines.
I don’t talk about it much because you often get bombarded with advice as soon as you say you have one. People are quick to let you know what they or their mother or best friend does for their migraines or either they completely don’t understand and just label it as a bad headache.
That’s why I am happy to be working with Med-IQ to help generate awareness around migraine prevention and treatment. Med-IQ is an accredited medical education company that provides an exceptional educational experience for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals.
I sat in on a Zoom call with Dr. Amaal J Starling, Associate Professor of Neurology at Neurology Mayo Clinic of Phoenix, AZ and talked with her about migraines and migraine prevention.
So if it’s not just a bad headache, what exactly IS a migraine?
A migraine is a genetic neurologic disease. More than 100 genetic mutations can make someone vulnerable to migraines.. Each person who has migraines have different combinations of these mutations which leads to different forms of the disease. Therefore, there is no one size fits all treatment option.
Dr. Starling states that migraine triggers are rarely just one thing (like not getting enough sleep). Instead there are usually Multiple triggers ( the bad sleep combined with a stressful day at work, air pressure changes with weather and hormonal changes to name a few).
The goal is to increase your threshold so that a change in environment is less likely to trigger a migraine.
That leads us to SEEDS.
What is SEEDS?
Dr Starling likes to suggest that we plant SEEDS for success when it comes to migraine management. SEEDS is an acronym that stands for lifestyle changes that can help manage migraines. I love that most of the techniques I have been using myself are made easy by the acronym. Let’s break it down
S: Sleep Hygiene: Get regular sleep
Getting enough sleep is key to migraine prevention. Part of good sleep hygiene is establishing a bedtime routine, and Going to sleep around the same time and waking up at the same time everyday.
E: Exercise Regularly:
Based on studies, 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise 2- 3 times a week is great for migraine prevention. I can say that personally, since I started working out regularly, the frequency of my migraine attacks has decreased dramatically.
E: Eat Regular Healthy Meals
Some data has shown that peaks and valleys in blood sugar levels can trigger migraine attacks. Dr. Starling likes to suggest eating 6 small meals a day rather than 2 big ones to keep blood sugar levels even.
D: Drink water
Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Personally, I know that being dehydrated in combination with stress and hormones can trigger a migraine for me. So this is one I’m constantly working on.
S: Stress Management
Stress is a common trigger. A lot of stress management techniques are also migraine reduction techniques. Studies have shown that evidence techniques like biofeedback, muscle relaxation and mindfulness are great tools to use.
What should you do if you STILL can’t manage your migraines?
Then it’s time to talk to your dr about preventive medications.
When the previous prevention techniques are not working well, it’s time to seek a healthcare provider to help treat your migraines.
Dr Starling noted that although there are 44million Americans who experience migraines, there are only 700 board-certified headache specialists in the United States. So start with your Primary care provider. Be ready to describe your symptoms, (she suggests keeping a headache diary to track symptoms: both how often they occur and how sever they are to help identify patterns to find the best acute treatment options)
Getting the appropriate diagnosis is key in treatment. And something we will discuss more in my next post next month!
But if you suffer from migraines, hopefully, this post with help you develop a few techniques to help prevent the frequency of them!
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