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Tips to manage your migraines

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Got migraines?

Nearly 30 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches - and more than two-thirds of them are women. Migraines are a debilitating neurological condition characterized by extreme sensitivity to light and sound, extreme throbbing in one part of the head, nausea, vomiting and visual disturbances. Does this sound like the gut-wrenching headaches you or a loved one is enduring? Keep reading to learn what you can do to manage your migraines.

Tips to manage your migraines

1. Be a self-advocate

Dr Diamond suggests that you take control of your migraines by being proactive. "Keep a migraine or headache diary to look for patterns. You may find a pattern regarding ovulation, menstruation, stress or other factors. Take your results to your doctor," she adds.

In addition, do your research and learn as much as you can about migraines. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and The National Headache Foundation are excellent resources to help boost your knowledge.

2. Stay on a healthy schedule

Having unpredictable or erratic eating and sleeping habits can trigger your migraines. Make sure you get enough quality sleep and follow a healthy diet with regular meals (low blood sugar from skipped meals can bring on a migraine). (Read these tips to get better sleep.)

Dr Diamond also suggests that you limit your caffeine, since it can trigger migraines. She warns, "A little caffeine is okay, but overuse can cause a rebound headache or migraine." Of course, if your caffeine consumption is currently high, gradually wean yourself down since caffeine withdrawals can also cause headaches. In addition, keep in mind that some migraine medications contain caffeine - if you take them, be sure to pare down the caffeine you drink or eat.

3. Exercise

Put exercise on your healthy schedule – particularly physical activity that you find enjoyable and reduces your stress. Dr Diamond says, "Anything that helps you think about your body and tune in is a good choice." (Take this workout quiz to find the workout that works for you.)

4. See your doctor

Probably the most important tip, seeing your doctor is essential in getting diagnosed with migraines as well as finding the most effective treatment. If you are currently on a migraine medication and still suffering migraines, you may need a change in your treatment plan. You can visit to answer a few questions and get more information to discuss with your doctor.

5. Manage your stress

Stress is a common trigger, and even good stress can cause a migraine. Stress reduction can be as easy as taking a walk, deep breathing, changing your perception of your stressor, or whatever else works for you. The key is making stress reduction a priority. (Here are plenty of tips to reduce stress from the Health and Wellness Channel.)

Chronic migraines are not only physically debilitating, they severely impact the quality of your life. Instead of letting them hinder your ability to spend time with your family or function at school or work, see your doctor and find a treatment plan that is right for you.

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