Tuesday, April 06, 2010

When Will a Migraine Strike? Tips for Narrowing Down the Possibilities

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A number of articles have been written recently about a research study indicating the majority of migraine sufferers do not know when their next attack will occur. While it is true that it can be difficult to predict in advance when an attack will occur, there are things you can do to help you narrow down the possibilities and treat your attack as soon as possible.

Familiarize yourself with possible triggers
- Triggers are highly individual and affect each person differently. Having a better idea of what triggers tend to bring on your attacks can help you predict them with greater accuracy. Some of the most common triggers include:
changes in weather and barometric pressure; changes in your daily schedule or routine, especially as to sleep and meals; foods containing MSG, tyramine, caffeine and other such substances; cigarette smoke; cologne; chemical fumes; fluorescent lighting; exercise; alcohol, especially red wine; stress; hormone fluctuations; and overuse of pain medications.

Identify your triggers by keeping a diary
- Keeping a daily diary of your symptoms, mood, medication use, sleep habits, diet and activities can help you see patterns over time. If you begin to notice that you feel irritable, sweaty, hot and lethargic before an attack (like I do), you will know an attack is likely imminent when these symptoms come on you and know to take your treatment medication right away and slow down and take it a little easier than usual.

Try an elimination diet
- In addition to keeping track of what you eat in a diary, an elimination diet is the best way to identify foods that trigger migraine attacks. In my opinion the best elimination diet is covered in Dr. David Buchholz's book Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program for Taking Charge of Your Pain. I'm not a huge fan of the rest of the content in this book as I feel it contains a lot of misguided advice and inaccurate information, but the information about elimination diets is top notch and well worth the cost of the book. Heidi Gunderson has a blog and cookbook filled with great recipes that follow Dr. Buchholz's elimination diet plan: Migraine-Free Cooking.

Always be prepared
- Keep your treatment medication & anything else you need to soothe and comfort yourself during an attack close at hand. It's a good idea to have duplicates of these items at home and at work if you work outside the home.

The Migraine Trigger: What They Are & How to Avoid Them
Common Triggers of Migraines

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.