It is estimated that about one billion people worldwide suffer from migraines, making it one of the most common causes of chronic headaches. Migraines can cause severe and often disabling headaches as well as other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness, and fatigue. Fortunately, there are treatments available to help manage symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. Diagnosing migraines begins with a visit to the doctor which includes a physical exam and some questions about one’s symptoms and lifestyle. In this blog, we’ll discuss what happens during a migraine, the best available treatments, as well as things you can do at home to reduce the pain in case one hits you unexpectedly.
What Happens During a Migraine?
Migraines are believed to be caused by abnormal brain activity. This is known as cortical spreading depression (CSD), a wave of neural activity that spreads across the brain’s cortex, or outer layer. CSD causes neurons in the affected area to become less active and decreases blood flow to the region, leading to symptoms like pain and sensitivity. Migraine headaches are also believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There is evidence to suggest that certain people may have an inherited susceptibility to migraines. Additionally, environmental triggers such as stress, fatigue, changes in hormone levels, bright lights, and certain foods can also bring on a migraine attack.
The Best Non-Surgical Treatments for Migraines
Oftentimes, chronic migraines require ongoing treatment to keep them at bay. Some of the best treatments include:
Red light Therapy: Studies have shown that red light therapy can be an effective treatment for chronic migraines, reducing both the severity and frequency of symptoms. A recent study found that red light exposure decreased migraine frequency by 75% and reduced the intensity of pain in participants.
Ozone Therapy: Ozone therapy has been shown to improve blood circulation throughout the body. This makes it an ideal treatment for migraine sufferers, as improved circulation can help reduce the severity and frequency of their headaches.
Medical Acupuncture: By stimulating specific points along the body, it is believed to relax tense muscles, improve blood flow, and release endorphins which provide pain relief. Acupuncture can address other issues connected with migraines such as stress, anxiety, and insomnia that are known triggers for the condition.
Chiropractic Care: Adjustments help restore the normal movement of the spine and reduce tension in the muscles, ligaments, and joints that surround it. These adjustments can provide relief from migraine pain by improving nerve function and increasing blood flow to the head and neck, which reduces inflammation.
Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine: Traditional Chinese herbs work together to address the various causes of migraines, such as poor circulation, inflammation, stress, and hormonal imbalances. Typically, the herbs used for migraine relief are taken orally in pill or powder form.
Acupoint Injection Therapy: injection of herbs, homeopathics, and other nutritional supplements in the form of sterile substances into acupuncture points to promote, maintain, and restore health; for pain management and palliative care; for acupuncture anesthesia; and to prevent disease.
Nutritional IV Hydration: IV hydration therapy delivers vitamins, electrolytes, and hydration right into the bloodstream. That means the effects will be felt much faster than with typical oral treatments. The infusion will calm the nerve endings and relieve migraine pain.
At-Home Migraine Relief Remedies
Migraines can strike at the worst possible time. And when they do, it can be extremely painful, accompanied by a variety of miserable symptoms. The next time you’re at home and a migraine occurs, try these remedies:
Find a Dark, Quiet Place: Many people have light or sound sensitivities, and it’s intensified when a migraine hits. Finding a dark and quiet place can help alleviate migraine symptoms.
Cold Compresses: Applying a cold compress to the temples or neck can help soothe migraines pain and reduce inflammation. Placing a bag of frozen vegetables or an ice pack inside a clean cloth and applying it gently to the affected area for 15-20 minutes can provide quick relief from migraine symptoms.
Heat Therapy: Stress in the neck and shoulders can trigger a migraine at a moment’s notice. Products such as the UTK Heating Pad for Neck and Shoulders alleviate tension and provide relief.
Take Medicine: Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help lessen the severity of migraine pain.
Herbal Remedies: Many herbs have been linked to migraine relief, such as ginger, peppermint, and feverfew. Try drinking a cup of herbal tea made with these ingredients or adding them to your favorite recipes.
Go to Sleep: If you can, try and get some rest. Sleeping can reset the body and migraines are often gone after. The remedies listed above are for immediate relief. Things you can do at home to prevent migraines from occurring are; staying hydrated, reducing stress levels, getting enough nighttime sleep, and exercising regularly.
Common Questions About Migraines
- Are Migraines Hereditary?
- Migraines can run in families, so it is likely that genetics play a role in some cases. However, environmental factors such as stress and certain foods can also trigger migraines, so it is important to identify and avoid potential triggers.
- Are Migraines More Common in Women Than Men?
- Yes, migraines are more common in women than men. It is estimated that up to 18% of women experience migraines compared to 6% of men. Hormonal changes during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause may contribute to the higher prevalence of migraines in women, however, some research suggests that other factors such as genetics may also play a role.
- Are There Any Devices That Can Help Alleviate Migraine Pain?
- Yes, there are several devices available that can help relieve migraine pain. These include transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) units and occipital nerve stimulation (ONS) devices. TENS units use low-voltage electrical currents to block pain signals from the brain, while ONS devices use mild electrical pulses to stimulate nerve endings in the neck and head. Both devices are available over the counter and can provide relief from migraine pain for some people.
- How Long Can Migraines Last?
- If left untreated, migraines can last anywhere from 4-72 hours.
- What is the difference between a headache and a migraine?
- A headache only encompasses one aspect of a migraine. Migraines often have symptoms such as nausea, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, and exhaustion.
- Can weather affect migraines?
- Drastic conditions or significant changes in barometric pressure may lead to a migraine attack for some people.
- Can altered sleep patterns promote migraines?
- Yes, either too much or too little sleep might instigate a migraine. It’s important to try and get the same amount of sleep each night.
Could Chronic Sinus Pain and Congestion Trigger Migraines?
Could chronic sinus pain and congestion potentially trigger migraines? Many experts believe so. The causes of chronic sinus pain, such as allergies, infections, or structural issues, can contribute to inflammation and pressure in the sinuses, leading to painful headaches. This connection highlights the importance of addressing sinus issues to potentially alleviate migraine symptoms.
Experience Migraine Relief with Family Integrative Medicine
Don’t let migraines keep you from doing the things you love. Finding a consistent treatment routine that prevents migraines from occurring is essential to your happiness. Getting to the root of your chronic condition is something we do best, and providing migraine relief is no different. If you’re sick of migraines slowing you down, give us a call at 407.751.2192 and find the location convenient for you!