Journal

Migraine: FYI – Post 2

by | Jun 6, 2014 | Editorial

June is Migraine Awareness Month. Throughout the month, I’m sharing parts of my journey and some things I’ve learned along the way.
Following are some things you may not know about migraine.  But please remember, I am not a medical professional, nor am I dispensing medical advice. I am merely offering areas of investigation.

There are hundreds of potential migraine triggers, and they are different for each person. Furthermore, it may take up to 48 hours for a particular food to trigger a migraine, so you really do have to become a detective.

Some common food triggers include:

– Corn
– Wheat
– Dairy, especially hard cheeses
– Sugar
– Soy, including tofu
– Certain nuts, notably cashews and peanuts
– MSG, which is often camouflaged under names such as natural flavorings, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and calcium caseinate – to name a few!
– Alcoholic beverages
– Aspartame
– Cured meats
– Anything containing preservatives
– Fermented foods

Note: One person’s medicine is another person’s poison. For example, chocolate is a common trigger, but nibbling very dark (80% cacao and higher) organic chocolate at the onset of a migraine will often stave it off for me. On the other hand, while some people get the same relief from coffee, it is a huge trigger for me.

Meal times

It’s not just what you eat but when that matters, Going too long without eating is a common migraine trigger. I make sure to eat something every two or three hours. Many migraineurs, myself included, find that eating six small meals a day works much better for prevention than the traditional three meals per day.

Exercise

While gentle to moderate exercise may ease or prevent migraines, vigorous activities such as jumping and running are common triggers. (Now I know why I dreaded those jumping jacks in P.E. class back in the day.)

Sleep

Not getting enough sleep or having an irregular sleep schedule can trigger migraines.

Environmental factors

Triggers include:

– Second-hand smoke
– Gasoline fumes
– High humidity
– Certain strong perfumes

Lighting

This is very idiosyncratic but if you have migraines you might want to pay attention to what happens to you in certain stores and other places. I have found that I get very sick – dizzy, nauseated and disoriented, followed by going into full-blown migraine – from just a few minutes in certain, though not all, supermarkets, big box stores and chain pharmacies. A friend has a similar experience, but her list of stores is completely different!

Looking back to graduate school, I remember being unable to do four minutes of work in my little TA office with its fluorescent lights, but I could go deeply into my work for four hours at the campus café – with it’s warm, mellow lighting.  If your child is prone to headaches and tells you he or she can’t work in the library, consider the lighting (and yes, unfortunately, children get migraines, too.)

Following are some things you may not know about migraine.  But please remember, I am not a medical professional, nor am I dispensing medical advice. I am merely offering areas of investigation.

There are hundreds of potential migraine triggers, and they are different for each person. Furthermore, it may take up to 48 hours for a particular food to trigger a migraine, so you really do have to become a detective.

Some common food triggers include:

– Corn
– Wheat
– Dairy, especially hard cheeses
– Sugar
– Soy, including tofu
– Certain nuts, notably cashews and peanuts
– MSG, which is often camouflaged under names such as natural flavorings, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and calcium caseinate – to name a few!
– Alcoholic beverages
– Aspartame
– Cured meats
– Anything containing preservatives
– Fermented foods

Note: One person’s medicine is another person’s poison. For example, chocolate is a common trigger, but nibbling very dark (80% cacao and higher) organic chocolate at the onset of a migraine will often stave it off for me. On the other hand, while some people get the same relief from coffee, it is a huge trigger for me.

Meal times

It’s not just what you eat but when that matters, Going too long without eating is a common migraine trigger. I make sure to eat something every two or three hours. Many migraineurs, myself included, find that eating six small meals a day works much better for prevention than the traditional three meals per day.

Exercise

While gentle to moderate exercise may ease or prevent migraines, vigorous activities such as jumping and running are common triggers. (Now I know why I dreaded those jumping jacks in P.E. class back in the day.)

Sleep

Not getting enough sleep or having an irregular sleep schedule can trigger migraines.

Environmental factors

Triggers include:

– Second-hand smoke
– Gasoline fumes
– High humidity
– Certain strong perfumes

Lighting

This is very idiosyncratic but if you have migraines you might want to pay attention to what happens to you in certain stores and other places. I have found that I get very sick – dizzy, nauseated and disoriented, followed by going into full-blown migraine – from just a few minutes in certain, though not all, supermarkets, big box stores and chain pharmacies. A friend has a similar experience, but her list of stores is completely different!

Looking back to graduate school, I remember being unable to do four minutes of work in my little TA office with its fluorescent lights, but I could go deeply into my work for four hours at the campus café – with it’s warm, mellow lighting.  If your child is prone to headaches and tells you he or she can’t work in the library, consider the lighting (and yes, unfortunately, children get migraines, too.)

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