THE HEADACHE OF ALL HEADACHES
Makes no mistake: a migraine isn't just a ' bad headache'. It's a condition that can trigger intense pain on one or both sides of the head (and sometimes the face and next too), often accompanied by sickness, lethargy and sensitivity to light and sound for anything from a few hours to a few days. About one in three sufferers will also experience temporary symptoms known as an 'aura' which can include seeing lashing lights, experiencing numbness, feeling dizzy or off balance and having difficulty speaking!!
Also being a woman makes you more likely to have one - an estimated one in five women is affected, compared with just one in 15 men. Plus, in a study on the impact of Covid, more than half of people said their migraines were more frequent and a third said they were increasingly severe since the start of the pandemic, which is hardly surprising given the amount of stress and upheaval we have all been through.
It is thought that genetics may play a key role and that you were probably born with a disposition towards severe headaches. The exact cause is still unknown which seems incredible given the advances in science and medicine but they're thought to be the result of abnormal brain activity temporarily affecting the nerve signals, chemicals and blood vessels in the brain.
In fact, migraines can be heavily affected by hormonal events throughout a women's life. The first attack often occurs around puberty, with the time around your period being a danger zone. Migraines may improve during the later stages of pregnancy and worsen during the menopause. Not to mention women work full time, look after children and elderly parents so it's no wonder we all feel stressed and overworked.
So what are the key triggers? They can vary from bad sleep, bright lights, strong smells, dips in blood sugar, poor posture, caffeine or alcohol, dehydration, flickering screens, certain medicines and foods containing tyramine. Even changes in atmospheric pressure can cause a splitting headache. It would appear your migraine brain is resistant to change!
Keeping a journal every time you have an attack including what you ate, what the weather was like, how your mood was that day can help you identify patterns. Granted you can't do much about the weather but you can take good care of yourself if you are having an attack.
Focusing on healthy foods and reducing the over processed food that most supermarkets love selling will help enormously, same as going for a walk or doing some gentle yoga. Magnesium is also said to help so ensure you eat enough leafy greens and nuts. You may also decide to take a supplement to up your mineral levels.
So keep a note, deal with the things you can directly control and learn to let go of everything else!