Dr. Matthew Gianforte
Natural Medicine Overland Park, KS
Migraine is the third most prevalent illness in the world, affecting around 39 million men, women, and children in the United States. It remains to be an important public health problem, being the leading cause of outpatient and emergency department visits. Migraines are most commonly experienced between the ages of 25 to 55, however this illness can affect anyone at any point in their lives. For individuals who suffer from either episodic or chronic migraines, there is no doubt that it can be debilitating. Though over the counter medications can provide some relief, medication overuse often turns episodic migraines to chronic migraines.
Causes and Symptoms of Migraines
Many researchers believe that migraines are genetic, however there are many factors and triggers that can instigate migraines. This includes stress, hormonal changes in women, loud noises, weather, strong smells, skipped meals, caffeine, medication overuse, nutrition, sleep habits, and neck pain. While the cause of migraines may vary, the symptoms are very apparent.
Migraines are more than just bad headaches. According to the American Migraine Foundation (https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/), there are four different phases of migraines, though not everyone will experience all four phases.
- Prodrome – known as the “pre-headache,” this phase can last anywhere from several hours to several days. Symptoms of this phase is variable however most individuals experience mood changes, irritability, difficulty focusing, muscle stiffness, fatigue, sensitivity to light and sound, insomnia, and nausea.
- Aura – not every individual experiences this phase. However people undergoing aura may have to endure blurry vision, blind spots, flashing lights, and shimmering lights. This phase typically lasts anywhere between 5 minutes and 60 minutes.
- Headache – this phase is characterized by pain on one or both sides of the head. Pain intensity may vary from mild to debilitating, depending on the individual. This phase may last from hours to several days. Other symptoms include, anxiety, sensitivity to light and sound, insomnia, nausea, and irritability.
- Postdrome – also known as the “migraine hangover,” this phase occurs in about 80% of individuals experiencing a migraine. While the length of this phase varies, it can be very debilitating. Symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, light sensitivity, body aches, and difficulty concentrating.
Understanding the phases and symptoms of migraines can help you to treat the symptoms early on, and minimize the severity of the attack.
How Can Migraines Be Treated?
Migraines cause real pain, as stated earlier being aware of the symptoms and knowing how to treat them can really make a difference. Prophylactic care such as healthy habits, and nonmedical remedies may alleviate symptoms, and even stop migraines before they start.
Here are some tips to treating your migraine:
- Rest in a cool, dark room
- Increase fluids
- Place a cold pack over your forehead
- Decrease stress: yoga, relaxation techniques, biofeedback
- Hormone therapy
- Don’t skip meals: check your nutrition
- Establish regular sleep hours
- Spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments
- Stretch: check your ergonomics and work posture
- Treat recurrent joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck and back
Living with migraines is a challenge. However there are ways to alleviate and prevent this debilitating pain. Chiropractors are one of the most common complementary practitioners of natural medicine Overland Park, KS relies on at LifeWorks. Don’t just treat the symptoms; treat the problem.