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How to Deal with Constant Headaches and Migraines
Everyone gets the occasional "when will this day end" headache. Those types of headaches may even follow a particular pattern, like every time you miss your morning cup of coffee. But you may be asking yourself, "When should I start to worry?" Most headaches respond to self-care, over-the-counter pain relievers, or medication your doctor prescribes. But for more severe types, like migraines, it's best to seek medical advice promptly. Migraines are a complex condition with a variety of symptoms. When experiencing a migraine, common side effects include nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to sound and light. Approximately one-fifth of migraine sufferers also experience something called "Aura." This is a warning associated with migraines that can occur before the headache pain begins. When experiencing aura, some may have visual disturbances like wavy lines, dots, or flashing lights. According to the World Health Organization, migraines are among the ten most disabling medical illnesses that affect over 37 million men, women, and children in the United States. If you experience headaches and migraines, you often know how a bad episode can temporarily stop you in your tracks. They can have a significant impact on your everyday life, hitting you while at work, at home with your family or out with friends. Though you don't always need to reach for that ibuprofen to get relief, small changes to your lifestyle can reduce the frequency of headaches and migraines, such as:
Did you know there are specific triggers in food? Two of the biggest things you should steer clear from are monosodium glutamate (MSG) and nitric oxide. In other words, Chinese food, aged cheeses, red wine, ramen noodles, chocolate, etc. But you don't have to stop eating everything. It's more about eating in moderation. Instead, eat small meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar stable. Or, to follow a Mediterranean diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, beans, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
Too much caffeine could make your headaches worse, especially if you suffer from migraines. However, many people say that their morning coffee can help their migraines. If it really does help, then great! But remember to have a little self-control when it comes to caffeine, you don't want to consume too much of it.
Studies show three over-the-counter products may be able to help you with your headache and migraine problem: Magnesium (anywhere from 400 mg to 500 mg), Vitamin B2, and coenzyme Q10.
Sleep is incredibly important for your overall health, especially when it comes to headaches. Having an underlying or unrecognized sleep disorder could have a considerable effect on your headaches or the recurrence of headaches.
Noise & Light
A big trigger for some people who get migraines is noise and light. If you are more inclined to migraines, try your best to avoid sitting in front of a screen with bright lights and loud sounds, which could trigger a headache.
If you have a history of migraines, you may experience more headaches if you use too many over-the-counter painkillers. A general rule to remember is not to use OTC medicines more than twice a week to help your headaches.
Headaches are frequent, almost everyone experiences one time and time again; some people even experience them regularly. But, how do you know when to see a neurologist for your constant headache or migraine? The common headache doesn't require a call to a neurologist or even your primary care provider. But if you're experiencing frequent headaches and using medication for them daily, that may be a different story. For non-severe headaches, schedule a visit and talk it over with your primary care provider. If the recommended treatments are not working well or you have unusual symptoms, you may need a neurologist who specializes in the nervous system's disorders. If you experience any of the below because of your headache, schedule an appointment with a neurologist.
- Continuous headache for more than a day or two
- Headache/migraines tend to come on suddenly
- Worsened by straining
- Experience headaches/migraines early in the morning
- Vision changes
- If you had a seizure, along with your headaches
At Community Care, we have two neurology practices located in the Capital Region that specialize in adult and pediatric neurology. CapitalCare Neurology, located in Niskayuna, specializes in nerves and the nervous system and treats headaches and migraines for patients aged five and up. The Child Neurology Group, located in Clifton Park, specializes in the pediatric nervous system for newborns up to 25-year-olds. They treat headaches and chronic migraines and offer Botox treatment.
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