Migraines: What, Why, and How to Fix Them

By Sharon Washio

Migraines are most commonly defined by their excruciating, pulsating pain. It is a prevalent disorder, with over 38 million Americans affected, of which approximately 28 million are women. It isn’t just your ordinary headache—some say that it feels like the side of their head is desperately trying to tear itself apart, inside out.

Take this quote from Anna Maria, featured on the Migraine Stories section of the Migraine Research Foundation site, for perspective. “As a child, I used to imagine putting an electric drill to my temple to open a hole that would release the pressure.” Migraines should always be treated tenderly without the stigma and judgement that sometimes unwelcomingly tags along perception of mental illnesses.

There are different types of migraines, the most common being migraine without aura. This is characterized by an intense throbbing headache, usually on one side of the head. There is also migraine with aura, which is like a warning signal that tells you if a migraine is coming. Auras are visual disturbances like flashing lights or blind spots, and some are stroke-like symptoms, such as loss of coordination and slurring. There are more rare types of migraines that involve temporary paralysis (hemiplegic migraine), loss of consciousness (basilar, as in the base of the head), and weakness of the muscles of the eye (ophthalmoplegic). To read more about the specific types, go here.

There’s no one cause for migraines, but there are genetic links. In addition,  there are certain triggers unique to every person, including specific foods, smells, exertions, stress, and more. However,  a relatively universal symptom is a sensitivity to light during a migraine, and they are usually best dealt by getting rid of sensory input such as by lying down in a dark, quiet room.

If you suffer from migraines or other similar intense head pain, here are some “home remedies” that may help to mitigate the pain. These include massages to release muscular tension from the neck and shoulders, targeting places such as around the ear, the base of your head, the middle of your neck, near the base of your neck, and even the space between your thumb and your index finger. Keeping hydrated and sleeping regularly are huge factors in preventing or reducing the intensity of migraines. There are also binaural beats migraine music available online, acupuncture, and vitamins (B) that other people use. Keeping a headache diary to find out what your triggers are to prevent future episodes is important.

If you suspect that you have chronic migraines, schedule an appointment with a neurologist to get properly diagnosed and seek treatment guidelines. A problem with migraines is that many find themselves caught up in a cruel cycle of relying on too much medication or relying on them too frequently, such that without the medicine, they suffer from withdrawal headaches.

What can you do to help? There are several creative ways to donate to migraine defining/cure-seeking research, such as through AmazonSmile. My favorite is using GoodSearch.com, a charity search engine where you can select causes of your choice and you can donate just from searching things on the internet!

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