Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Coping with a Migraine: My Three Step Approach

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I talk a lot about various general techniques for coping with and medications for treating a migraine attack. I thought it might be helpful to take you through the specifics of what I do when I have an attack. This information should not substitute for your doctor's advice, but hopefully you'll take away some ideas to discuss with your treatment providers.

(1) Decide which, if any, meds to take.

I'm supposed to take a cocktail of medication at the onset of a migraine attack, so ideally I have everything I need at hand and can get it all in my system immediately.

The cocktail consists of a triptan, a muscle relaxer (Zanaflex), an antiemetic (Reglan) and pain medication (Tramadol). Depending on what I have on hand, I either take an Imitrex injection, a Zomig nasal spray or a Zomig orally disintegrating tablet.

I always have a dose or two of a triptan with me, so at a minimum I take that as soon as I realize an attack is coming on and add the rest of my cocktail in as soon as possible.

Though it's not been an issue lately, sometimes I avoid taking medication to avoid medication overuse headache. You can read more about that condition here: Medication Overuse Headache: When the Remedy Backfires.

(2) Take control of my environment.

Once I've taken my medication, I get down to the business of making my surroundings as friendly as possible. I'm lucky that I'm at home most days, which makes it easy to control my environment. But even if you find yourself stuck at work with a migraine you can still put most of these ideas into practice to make your space as pleasant as possible.

  • Close blinds and curtains
  • Put on comfy clothes
  • Close bedroom door
  • Turn on fan

(3) Get as comfortable as possible.

Finally, there are a few things I try to do to get myself settled and help myself cope while I ride out the attack.

  • Ice pack or cold, wet washcloth
  • Arrange pillows & blankets
  • Relaxation breathing
  • Glass of cold ice water
  • Aromatherapy with Origins Peace of Mind products

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