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For as long as I can remember, I have suffered from chronic migraines and headaches. In fact, they have been so bad for the last 10 years that they have affected my relationships and life in the past. It didn’t take long living with a doctor to open up a conversation about treatment. My husband is a caretaker on so many levels and all he wanted was for me to feel better and take my life back. He recommended a family doctor for me to go see and the road to getting my headaches under control began.
What is a Migraine Headache?
Migraines are disabling headaches that most likely stem from problems with the nerves and blood vessels in the head. Migraine headaches typically last from 4-72 hours. They may occur as often as several times a week to only once a year (emedicinehealth).
Mine always last 72 hours without prescription medication, and I was getting a migraine about once a week equating to having a migraine almost half of the month. Talk about absolute misery. With that many headache days a month, I can’t stay in bed. I’ve always had to function, work and live my life with debilitating headaches.
Migraine headaches affect a significant percentage of the population. Three times as many women as men have migraines (emedicinehealth). Most people who suffer from them have family members who have migraines, me included. My mom and my brother both suffer from migraines. There are three different types of migraine headaches. I get a classic migraine without aura, but suffer from status migrainosus.
- Migraine without aura (common migraine): This type accounts for most migraine headaches. There is no aura before a common migraine.
- Migraine with aura (classic migraine): This type is usually preceded by an aura and is usually much worse than a common migraine. Most often, an aura is a visual disturbance (outlines of lights or jagged light images).
- Status migrainosus: This is the term used to describe a long-lasting migraine that does not go away by itself.
Tension & Sinus Headaches
Not only do I get migraine headaches, I also get tension and sinus headaches. These have left me with little to no headache free days in between my migraines. The good thing about these types of headaches is that I’ve finally discovered how to prevent them. I have to be diligent when it comes to prevention and it can be so hard when life gets busy.
Prevention & Relief
Nothing, and I mean nothing helps my migraine headaches. I take ibuprofen, Tylenol, Excedrin Migraine, Excedrin Tension Headache, use cold washcloths, ice packs, and essential oils, and drinks tons of water, but nothing gives me relief. The pain gets so bad that I can’t even sleep. After consulting with my doctor, I was prescribed Sumatriptan and it has 100% changed my life. Along with having medication that provides relief, my doctor and I have also found ways to help prevent my headaches and that is what I want to share with you!
My Headache Prevention & Treatment Must Haves
- Avoiding Triggers: Pay close attention to what you eat/drink/do before getting a headache. I’ve identified a few very distinct triggers that always lead to headaches (like red wine).
- 24 Hour Allergy Medicine: If I don’t take a 24 hour allergy pill each day, I instantly get a headache. My nose stuffs up & it’s all down hill from there. I don’t get migraines from my allergies, but I get congestion headaches.
- Flonase: This works wonders paired with my allergy medicine to help reduce sinus headaches. The nasal spray reduces inflammation.
- Multivitamins: There are a few other vitamins that help with headache prevention and most of them can be found in a multivitamin. I take these.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer and it’s known to help prevent headaches. I take 400mg a day on top of my multivitamin (mine doesn’t contain magnesium).
- Hydration: I can’t stress the important of drinking enough water. There are so many benefits to staying well hydrated and preventing headaches is one of them. Get a water bottle to carry with you everywhere!
- Muscle Relaxers: These have been a huge help for my tension headaches. They cause drowsiness, so I only take them at night to help me relax and sleep. Consult with your physician about these.
- Bite Splint: I quickly found out that I clench my teeth at night which can lead to headaches. My doctor knew by a click in my jaw and my dentist new by marks in my mouth, so now I wear a super sexy bite splint that makes me drool while I sleep.
- Massage Cane: I’ve posted this on Instagram before. It’s a cane with a ball on the end to help massage pressure points. This provides great relief from tension.
- Manipulation: I am so blessed to live with a doctor. Andrew will release the pressure points in my head using manipulation and it provides amazing relief. You can see an osteopathic doctor to have this done. I couldn’t live without it.
- Peppermint Oil: This is definitely not a treatment, but it is soothing when I am battling a dull tension or sinus headache. I dab it on my temples, above my eyebrows, behind my ears, and on the back of my neck.
- Sumatriptan: This prescription medication has changed my life. This is the ONLY thing that will relieve a migraine for me. If you suffer from migraines, talk to your physician about your options.
I am not a medical professional (obviously), so please consult with your physician about your headaches. That said, I have suffered from headaches for so long and finding relief has been truly life changing, so I hope some of these prevention and treatment recommendations help others find relief.