What Can I Do About Chronic Migraines?

More than four million people in the United States suffer from chronic migraines, making it the sixth most debilitating illness in the world. 

Chronic migraines are often confused with regular headaches, but there are major differences. Headache pain is typically dull, sometimes moderate, and felt across the head. Migraines, on the other hand, cause severe pain and come with a host of additional symptoms. 

Some people experience occasional migraines when they're tired, sick, or hungry. Then, there are some who suffer from excruciating chronic migraines almost all the time. The American Migraine Foundation defines chronic migraines as striking five or more days per month over a period of three months. Does that sound like you? 

Dr. Mehul Desai and our specialists at International Spine, Pain & Performance Center can evaluate your migraines. Once we know more, we'll offer treatment so you don't have to suffer anymore.

What are the warning signs?

Migraine sufferers frequently notice precursors, such as auras, fatigue or vision problems. You might even experience blurriness or blindness before an attack. These symptoms are usually followed by a painful, throbbing headache, which may be accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light, sound, and odor.

The prodrome stage, or pre-migraine, can occur one to two hours or days before your full-blown migraine. You may also experience:

What causes migraines?

Research indicates that our largest cranial nerve, known as the trigeminal nerve, may be partially responsible for migraines. Abnormal brain activity can also induce episodes. Here are a few common triggers:

Stress 

Anxiety and stress are the most common migraine triggers that impact nearly 70% of migraine sufferers.

Hormones

Nearly 75% of women experience migraines around their menstrual period due to changes in estrogen and progesterone levels.

Irregular sleep schedule

When you alter your sleep schedule, your brain is also impacted. This can sometimes lead to migraines.

Extensive computer and smartphone usage

Electronic gadgets can increase eye strain and cause attacks. Modifying your habits may help this problem. Here are a few changes you can make: 

  1. Adjust your screen’s brightness.
  2. Increase your computer monitor’s refresh rate to avoid flickering, which may induce migraines.
  3. Use special computer glasses to reduce glare.
  4. Take frequent breaks and stretch at least once per hour.

Weather changes

Rain, humidity, excessive heat and other climate changes can act as a barometer for migraine attacks. Sometimes, you can offset this by remaining inside on especially humid or hot days.

Food

The saying, “you are what you eat,” holds especially true for migraines. Common dietary causes include:

Dehydration

Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to defend against migraines.

Bright lights

One of the most common causes of migraines, known as photophobia, occurs from natural or fluorescent lights. Wear dark, preferably green-tinted sunglasses outdoors. The only type of light that doesn't seem to be problematic is green. Use bulbs that emit green light indoors.

While each of these triggers may induce migraines, it’s crucial to learn which ones impact you. Dr. Desai recommends keeping a journal to note what foods you ate or the activities you engaged in prior to each episode to discover your specific triggers.

How can they be controlled? 

What can you do to help?

Our pain management experts offer diagnostic testing along with a comprehensive consultation to uncover any underlying health issues. We'll also provide the best course of action for your specific chronic migraines. Here are a few treatment options that might work for you: 

Are you ready to end your chronic migraines? Contact us to discover the best treatment plan for you. Visit our website here to schedule an appointment today.

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