My holiday plans were interrupted by a migraine headache this week. It made ringing in the new year a little bit harder than normal. I didn’t join the Scrabble game, just kept score. Migraines have plagued me since I was in junior high. I can remember one of my first ones in the eighth grade. I was laughed at when I took a note in to the office at school to excuse my absence from the day before. The note asked to excuse Kandi because she was home with a “sick headache”. The school secretary thought every headache was a sick headache. However, for anyone who has suffered a migraine, it is no laughing matter.
Isn’t a migraine just a headache? According to Migraine Research Foundation a migraine is a neurological disorder that affects over 10% of the US population! That means that 1 in 4 homes have someone who is affected by a migraine. Another website, Migrainedisorders.org, lists thirty-five symptoms of a migraine. The most common symptoms, or the ones that I have heard repeated by friends and family who have suffered migraines are acute headache, nausea, visual spots, light sensitivity, and sensitivity to sound. This last one I had I was light-headed with it.
What triggers migraines? Good question. Again, the answer is as diverse as the person. Some people avoid foods–chocolate and caffeine being the big ones, but I have heard cheese, nuts, and citrus fruit as well. There was a time where I would look at a delicious brownie or other chocolate delectable and ask myself, “Is this worth a headache?” The answer would be a disappointed, “No”, and I would move on to something else. I have had migraines from my neck being out and most recently from TMJ (joint of the jaw) disorder.
One of the frustrating things with migraines besides their complexity is that the very thing that could trigger a migraine could cure it. Yes, you read that correctly. Chocolate not only can cause a migraine, but could help relieve it as well! The same is true for caffeine. In fact, the medicine of choice for a migraine is Excedrin which has caffeine added to it. So, what do I do when I have a migraine, besides curl up in bed and try to sleep it off? I pull out 7-Up or more recently Ginger Ale and peanut M&M’s. The two help the symptoms. I also use Migraine Formula Acetaminophen. It can help curb the pain but not always. When those don’t work, I use some trigger points. The fatty part between the thumb and the forefinger works as a tension reliever. Massaging it helps. The big toe has a point on the pad that helps relieve migraines as well. A hot bath with an ice pack on the back of the neck works wonders, too. I can remember doing homework my freshman year in college with my sunglasses on while in bed at night. I had to get the assignment finished, and my eyes couldn’t handle the light. The sunglasses came to the rescue. They also helped me on New Year’s Eve this week.
I know there is a ton of information out there on migraines, but maybe this will help you understand a little bit better when a friend says they have one. Or maybe you can gain a few ideas on how best to tackle your next one. Either way, I wish you don’t need this information–that means you aren’t in pain. If you find yourself dealing with one of these booger of a headaches, reach for some peppermint tea, ginger ale, and M&M’s maybe they will help.