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5 Things: Migraine Headaches

If you've ever had a migraine — or even if you haven't — you know that they are to be avoided at all costs. These mindbendingly bad headaches can be debilitating, often causing nausea and sensitivity to light. Though more than 20 million people suffer from migraines, they are more common in females. As many as 17 percent of women get migraines, versus just 6 percent of men. Here are five things you need to know about migraine headaches.

  • Different people have different migraine triggers. Common catalysts include lack of sleep, not getting enough to eat, stress, and certain foods, such as red wine and anything containing tyramine (found in cheese, wine, beer, and sausage) or MSG.
  • Many women get migraines before or during their menstrual cycles, since the headaches are often caused by hormone fluctuations.

For three more things about migraines,


  • If you frequently suffer from migraines, it's easy to know the difference between a regular headache and these more severe ones. Characteristics of migraines include throbbing pain concentrated on one side of the head or in the front or back of the head.
  • The onset of a migraine is often signaled by certain symptoms, including fatigue, sadness, grumpiness, euphoria, and visual auras, wherein the sufferer sees flashing lights or spots.
  • While waiting out migraines, many people prefer to lay down in a dark room. There are also several medications that treat the pain, including over-the-counter meds and prescription drugs called triptans or ergots.

Fit's Tip: Migraines vary widely from person to person in terms of symptoms, causes, and effective treatments. If you suffer from them or suspect you do, talk to your doctor about the best way to prevent and treat yours.

Do you suffer from migraines? If so, share your solutions in the comments section below.


hkmarks hkmarks 9 years
My mom has migraines with headaches and visual auras, usually triggered by red wine, cigarette smoke, or processed meat (probably sodium nitrite). I had a few when I was a kid, but luckily I haven't had one in years. I think the last time, the trigger was a noseful of chlorinated pool water.
akay akay 9 years
Beware of Splenda, Equal, etc Since I've stopped eating artificial sweeteners, my migraines have practically disappeared. Where I used to get them at the drop of a hat, the ones I occasionally get now are much more mild and usually linked to inadequate sleep and dehydration (comparable in so many ways to a hangover haha). When I spent a week mistakenly eating yogurt with Splenda last summer, it resulted in the worst migraines of my life for a weekend. Google Splenda for yourself; it was discovered while researching a substitute for the banned pesticide DDT and is chemically related to formaldehyde. It's kind of scary stuff.
Tabloid Tabloid 9 years
I do quite sometimes but mines are more violent then anyone else due to some health issue. I take the "Codeine 30" whenever that happen. Uh, this is not a suggestion for anyone. =/
susanec susanec 9 years
I've taken topamax for 3 years, it works fairly well but there is a reason they call it dopamax sometimes. The first time I started it was awful, it can cause anemia and when you're already anemic it's not good. I was on Inderal (propanolol) but didn't stay on it too long, may try it again at some point. Have tried all the triptans with little success besides Maxalt MLT (love that one) and one of the old school ergots is okay. Plus muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety meds and rx PT massage.
lynn2007 lynn2007 9 years
from around the ages of around 6 to 13 it wouldn't be uncommon for me to get a migraine about once a week every couple of months. They were absolutely horrible, and the only real way for me to relieve the presser in my head was to wait until it got so bad that I would throw up. The one thing that seemed to help was putting vicks vapor rub on my forehead. I know it sounds weird, but it totally helps.
xojennifer xojennifer 9 years
theyre definately the worst. I have them from time to time. I still haven't figured out what triggers them. I always throw up when I have one, can't avoid it. I especially hate when, before, my vision gets all weird and blotchy, and you have this weird headache starting, and you're like "oh great, here comes the migraine" and you can't do anything to avoid it. Advil doesnt work for me, neither does thylenols.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 9 years
I had my first and only migraine a week ago, and I'm really hoping it was a once in a lifetime thing. I'd never understood how bad they were, but what an awful experience!
medicgirl medicgirl 9 years
My neurologist took me off Gluten and sugar, it has been 6 weeks and what a difference it has made! I have only had 2 headaches instead of one daily. It was about 10 years with almost daily headaches, and about 8 a month were severe far so good :) She wanted to put me on Topamax as well but the risks scare me, I am on Amytriptaline instead and it has realy helped!
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
I took topamax 3 times a daily for 5 years by the end of my time on it my cognitive abilities has been seriously diminished, I have suffering from violent shaking (seizure like shaking), I had chronic insomnia, and the worst was something I even hate to mention but I had begun to be extremely paranoid, anxiety-ridden and suicidal. I had never in my life been suicidal but the toxicity of the topamax in my system was such that my brain chemistry was seriously f-uped. Neurologist finally took me off it this year - yeah,it had stopped preventing frequent migraines for about two years. Now she's having me test out low dose Effexor and propranolol as preventatives. Although topamax stopped working for me and caused nearly fatal side-effects (did I mention my liver function was diminished because of the med too?) I still encouraged my friend who like me suffers from intractable constant migraine to try it and see if it worked for her. It didn't but evavil seems to be easing them some. I would love it if some homeopathic treatment worked for preventing or aborting a migraine but none have. However, crano-sacral massage feels wonderful after going through a very tough round of migraines. The massage hasn't lessened my migraines or stopped them but it has eased the physical pain (my migraine hangover of serious spinal and neck pain) after an attack.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i've been getting migraines since i was in 8th grade - so i'm really good at knowing when i have them, when i'm getting them and usually what causes them. for myself there was a period of time a few months ago that i was getting them really badly and they weren't going away - no matter what i did. i was seeing a neurologist and taking tons of different medications and it turned out that i was soooo severely anemic that my body had no other way to react but to give me migraines. now i'm doing much better - but i haven't had a migraine in a bit.
jessie jessie 9 years
nancita....the medicine i take is preventive for migraines. its called topamax. there is lots of contraversry about it...lots of side effects with it. the first time i took it the side effects were horrible. then i went off of it for about 4 months. had migraines once again, so i went back on it. second time around not bad at all. for has really worked. i researched the hell outta it before starting it. message me if anyone has any questions, i'll answer any if i can! :)
hardests hardests 9 years
The best advice I was ever given was to start treatment as soon as you feel the migraine coming on, whether it's medication or a natural treatment. Some things I've used to treat mine: love the peppermint oil, neck stretches,(90% of headaches stem from the neck), massages of the base of the neck, ice packs on the forehead or base of the neck. And if you get them on a regular basis, go see a doctor! OTC drugs just don't work as well, at least not for me. There also might be a deeper health concern causing your migraines, like increases in blood pressure. Plus, I found that OTC meds never touched my migraines, but the measures above, coupled with a couple of prescriptions, have made my migraines much more manageable.
nancita nancita 9 years
Jessie, what medication are you taking daily? something preventative?
Mariana48 Mariana48 9 years
im havinh a migraine just now, really stupid to b in the computer... anyway i took a pill my mom gave me(she suffers from migraine too) usually goes away, but when it does not. drinking caffeine, like cofee or coke, really helps to ease the pain
susanec susanec 9 years
Origins peace of mind pulse point cream is nice too. Barometric pressure a big trigger too. Mine are atypical too (although I've never heard the rest of your dx, genvessel, interesting. I'll have to research.). Soy is also a trigger for me although mine aren't normally hormonal, just the phytoestrogens.
jessie jessie 9 years
after suffering from migraines for years (15yrs or so) and trying medications and taking sometimes 10 or more a month, i now take a medication daily. the medication has really worked for me. i've been on it since april or may..can't remember and i've only had 2 really bad migraines since then.
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
I have a friend that swears by peppermint oil as well. She massages the oil on to her forehead and temples.
genvessel genvessel 9 years
pepermint oil - you can get it in tubes from Bath and Body Works - are just about the only thing that help me when mine get really bad. i have atypical degenerative cyclical migraines (i know, mouthful). most of the normal medications do not work for me at all. but pepermint oil - and ice packs. making my head cold seems to help. but i swear by the oil.
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