How to Ease Migraines
As anyone who suffers from reoccurring migraines will know, finding a fast and effective way to ease the intense pain is of paramount importance to the quality of life of the sufferer. But pumping yourself full of drugs and avoiding strenuous activities for fear of triggering one of the dreaded attacks, is not the most convenient or healthy solution.
People who suffer from migraines tend to shy away from the gym because they believe that exercise may bring on a migraine. However, recent studies have not only shown that exercise is unlikely to trigger attacks, but that it may even have positive effects on the sufferer and work to prevent the onset of migraines in the future.
Naturally, every person is different and therefore will also have different triggers, so there is no across the board solution when it comes to preventing or easing migraines.
But, with that said, stress is known to be one of the top migraine triggers, accounting for 75% of migraine attacks, while exercise is widely known to be one of the most effective stress relievers there is. So, for some people, getting moderate to strenuous exercise in on a regular basis may be the best and most natural solution to migraines.
In a study that was recently published in the scientific journal Cephalalgia, a group of Swedish scientists examined the direct effects of exercise on migraine sufferers. During the study, 91 migraine sufferers were divided into three different groups. One group was given a migraine prevention drug called topiramate. The second group was asked to exercise for 40 minutes three times a week, while the last group did regular relaxation exercises.
The study was carried out over the period of three months followed by additional monitoring over a six month period. An equal amount of improvement was noted in all three groups, showing that exercise or relaxation techniques can be just as effective as drugs in relieving migraine symptoms and improving a person’s quality of life.
If you are looking for an alternative to drugs, you may want to seriously consider exercise as a way to prevent migraine attacks and ease their symptoms. But if hitting the tread mill and sweating it out doesn’t appeal to you, there are some less strenuous exercises that can have an equally positive effect on you.
Dr. Paul Rizzoli, co-author of the book The Migraine Solution, has recommended yoga as a possible treatment for migraines, due to its relaxing and stress relieving nature. Many migraine sufferers may prefer yoga to a more strenuous type of exercise because it is low impact and less likely to trigger a stress-related migraine attack.
The reason for this is that migraines can be triggered by both “good” and “bad” stress, so for some people, strenuous activities like jogging or aerobics could trigger an attack, while an exercise like yoga, that focuses on breathing techniques and muscle control would be less likely to have that effect.
A study that was carried out on a smaller scale by a headache clinic in Sweden also showed that exercise can, in the long-term, have benefits for migraine sufferers beyond relieving their pain. The goal of the study was to develop an exercise program that would improve oxygen intake in migraine sufferers without bringing on attacks or making their symptoms worse. Throughout the research, 26 migraine sufferers were observed over the period of 12 weeks as they followed an exercise program that consisted of indoor cycling.
The side effects, migraine status (frequency, intensity and medication intake) and quality of life of the subjects were all evaluated throughout the study, which had the subjects cycling three days a week.
By the end of the 12 week period, the subjects showed significant improvements in their overall fitness levels as well as a significant reduction in the number of migraine attacks they experienced. The severity and duration of their migraines was also reduced with the help of the exercise program.
Previous research has shown that migraine sufferers may have a higher sex drive because migraines and sexual desire are be influenced by the same chemical, and the old Marvin Gaye song “Sexual Healing” may have more truth to it than you realized. Some studies have found that engaging in sexual intercourse during a migraine may actually help to ease the pain.
Researchers found that out of the women who had used sex as a way to relieve migraine pain, 61% reported some measure of relief from their pain, which, when compared to many drugs that soothe around 60% of migraines, is a pretty good percentage.
According to Dr. Alexander Mauskop of the New York Headache Center, the endorphins that are released during an orgasm can work to relieve migraine pain. Endorphins are opiate-like chemicals, which are known to induce a positive feeling that prevents the messages about pain from ever reaching the brain.
The chemicals may even be able to prevent a migraine before it comes on, so next time you notice the telltale signs of a migraine, you know what to do.
Unfortunately it will not always be possible to access this particular migraine remedy, so finding other ways to live with and prevent migraines is still important. Luckily, by making some simple lifestyle changes, most migraine sufferers are able to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Simple things like getting sufficient sleep and eating the right things at the right times can greatly reduce the occurrence of migraines. Speaking to a professional about ways to manage migraines is important in order to find a tailor-made solution to your problem.
Professionals will be able to point out food triggers, which may include things like chocolate, caffeine, red wine, cheese or dried fruits. Processed foods and foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG) are also known to trigger migraines in sufferers. In order to determine what may be triggering yours, it can be helpful to keep a food diary.
Generally, living a healthy lifestyle by getting enough exercise, sufficient sleep, proper nutrition and avoiding stress can go a long way to reducing the occurrence and severity of migraines.
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