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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Migraine Relief: Seven Must-Know Tips to Get Through the Pain

Migraine Relief: Seven Must-Know Tips to Get Through the Pain
by Liz Beckett in Health (submitted 2009-07-15)

Having suffered from migraines for over twenty years, I know that migraine relief can seem impossible to find. The pain alone is excruciating, and missing out on your life because you're hurting is no fun either.

I've missed the weddings of good friends. I've wasted large parts of vacations lying in the hotel room, in pain. And, I've had friends drive me home, in my own car, as I threw up into a take-out container. (I decided to ignore my initial migraine symptoms and go out to lunch with a friend visiting from out of town. I don't think either of us enjoyed that visit very much!)

Here are the seven best ways that I've found to cope with a migraine. While you'll rarely be able to stop a migraine completely, these tips will give you some relief from the pain and can help you quickly get back to your life.

1. Act immediately.
When you notice an oncoming migraine, stop and take action immediately. The faster you react, the more effective you will be. Quick action can reduce a migraine's severity and duration.

Never try to "tough it out" with a migraine. Not only can you make the pain worse, but you can end up stuck somewhere, unable to drive home due to pain and nausea.

2. Pay attention to your body.
When you try different tips for migraine relief, you can often tell immediately if something's not working. If something makes you feel *worse*, stop! It's clearly not the right thing for you, and there's no point in fighting your body.

3. Shut down, cool off, and go for dark and quiet.
Stop what you're doing and find a quiet place to lie down and rest. Your own bedroom is often best, but if you're away from home, a hotel room or friend's place can work. Turn the air conditioner down to cool off, darken the room or cover your eyes, and turn off anything making noise.

Migraines can feel like "sensory overload" - noises, lights, smells all cause more pain. By getting into a cool, dark, quiet environment you minimize the number of things that can irritate your senses.

4. Try an over-the-counter medication.
Given how painful a migraine is, over-the-counter medicine might seem laughable. But Motrin and Excedrin both make migraine relief pills that can help lessen the pain over the course of the migraine. Plain old ibuprofen or aspirin can work as well. If your doctor is ok with you taking these medications, take a dose as you're settling down to rest.

5. Cool your head.
I like to put an ice pack on the back of my neck, at the base of my skull. You can also cool down with refrigerated wraps (or slightly frozen, damp towels) placed around your head and eyes. Sometimes even a cool, damp cloth over your eyes helps (and blocks light).

Migraines are different than normal headaches. In a normal headache, our blood vessels constrict (get smaller and tighter). In migraines, they dilate (get bigger and more open.) Icing makes your body constrict. Icing a regular headache can make it worse, but can help a migraine by counteracting the dilating vessels.

6. Stop the "Mental Chatter".
Noise can make migraine pain worse. My migraines react to my "mental chatter" (and I've got a TON of it) EXACTLY as if it were a REAL sound in the world; it makes my head hurt worse!

So, I literally try to stop thinking. (This may be easier for people who meditate regularly when they are not experiencing a migraine.) I quietly tell my brain, "shush" and imagine each thought as a bubble. I let the bubble go, floating out of my head, rather than following the thought.

Focusing on your breath can help divert your attention from your thoughts. Breath deeply to a steady count. I breathe in slowly while counting to four, hold for a count of four, breathe out for a count of eight, and hold for a count of four, then repeat.

7. Sleep it off.
For me, all of this is about trying to get to sleep. I try to lie as still as possible, quiet my brain, relax my body, breathe deeply... and desperately hope I can manage to fall asleep. Sleep seems to act like a huge "reset" button to me, and I nearly always feel much better after a long nap.

About the Author

Liz suffered for more than twenty years with debilitating migraines, and is incredibly grateful that she rarely experiences them these days. Are you tired of missing out on life because of migraine headaches? Don't waste another day in pain. Discover how to reclaim your life with a proven, drug-free system for permanent migraine relief.


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