Ways to Prevent Migraines

I could put this nicely, but really there is no nice way to express how you feel about migraines – they suck!  They can ruin your day, week or more but in addition to losing time it can also rob you of your life experiences.  I have had too many events ruined by a pounding head – so instead of enjoying friends and family I am focused on escaping so I can attempt to feel better.

I have learned that prevention is much better than treatment.  Not having to deal with the pain and feelings is much better than trying to overcome them.

It takes a combination of options to keep migraines at bay. Here are just a few methods that doctors (and me) are using today to stop migraines before they take over:

Preventative medication

These medications are widely used to treat the symptoms of migraines. They may be prescribed for anyone but are usually prescribed for those who have not been helped by treatment drugs, have adverse reactions to treatment drugs, or who have regular and severe occurrences. Examples of the type of drugs used include: Depakote (divalproex), Topamax (topiramate) and Inderal (propanolol). These are beta blockers, anti-depressant drugs, and anti-seizure medications.

Personally Imitrex works for me, but have tried beta blockers.  Ultimately I went off of them because the Imitrex did work and I did not want the side effects of beta blockers.  If you have tried everything else and still find no relief you should talk to your doctor about these options.

Regulating estrogen

For women who experience migraines before or after their menstrual cycle, controlling the levels of estrogen may help to prevent migraines from happening. This can be done in the form of hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills.

I have tried this too and found that it did make an impact, but the menstrual migraines never completely went away (I believe this is due to the fact that you usually need more than one trigger for a migraine to occur).  I would look at this as an option for you while you are looking for your triggers and working to better understand your patterns.  Not as a permanent solution.

I would recommend you talk to your doctor about this as females hormones are a very delicate balance that needs to be maintained.  So many other things are impacted by this balance that you do not want to mess with other areas of your body in the process.  Not to mention all the controversy around HRT anyway.    Do not try to self manage the hormones!

Behavioral treatments

All preventative measures don’t need to be medicinal. Biofeedback techniques and cognitive behavior therapy are both used in an attempt to prevent migraines from developing. Both therapies train patients to recognize stressful situations in their life and to learn to cope with them proactively to prevent increased muscle tension and vascular changes that result in a migraine.

While I have not tried these yet, Biofeedback is up next on my experiment list!

Investigational medications

These are not new drugs; rather they are drugs that have been approved for other conditions but have shown promise in preventing migraine headaches as well. These can include ACE inhibitors, muscle relaxants, nasal sprays and powders, and nerve stimulation devices. Talk to your doctor to determine if one of these may help you control your migraine triggers.

Relaxation therapy

Relaxation training is also used to help prevent migraines. You can learn to reduce the tension in your head using visualization and breathing instruction. This type of therapy has helped many to reduce the duration and intensity of migraine headaches. Deep breathing techniques as well as some yoga positions have been shown to reduce the onslaught of a migraine episode when done at first symptom.

This is one of the biggest approaches that I take to controlling my migraines, since stress is one of my triggers.  An ongoing stress management and relaxation program is very important for your health.  Relaxation is different for everyone so work on finding the right approach for you.  I personally love yoga, meditation and exercise.

Making prevention a part of your routine may help keep migraines at bay helping you to actually live your life to its fullest! Talk to your doctor to see if any of these methods will work for you.