5 lifestyle hacks to manage and ease migraines

If you’ve ever experience a migraine, you know that the throbbing pain, vision changes and nausea mean that it is no ordinary headache. According to the World Health Organisation, it is a disabling condition that can result in keeping you out of commission from work, and can result in lost productivity and general wellness. Stress can only exacerbate migraines, and with it only increasing given the current state of the world, we asked the pros for their methods to prevent and treat them safely and efficiently.

What does a migraine feel like?

Normal headaches are attributed to pain and severe aching on both sides of the head involving the temple, back of the neck and the forehead,” confirms Dr Sumit Singh, director of neuroscience, Artemis Hospital, Gurugram. “On the other hand, migraine pain is restricting to the area behind one eye or ear, and it is usually accompanied with nausea, vomiting, blurring of vision, and a heightened sensitivity to sound and light,” he says. According to Dr Singh, patients may experience sensations such as declined alertness, difficulty to concentrate and think, numbness in the face or hands, flashy lights in front of the eyes or changes in taste, smell and touch.

While some migraine patients report an attack every three-five days, this timeline varies. “Some patients have shared their experience of migraine pain which may last from 15 minutes to up to three hours, which can even wake you up from deep sleep,” he adds.

To someone that has a migraine, the external sensation may feel like pounding (like someone is constantly hammering inside the head), pulsating (pain that’s off and on) or throbbing (as if your head is being crushed by a weight). “The main reason for the pain may be attributed to the fluctuation in the flow of blood in the brain due to temporarily narrowed arteries,” says Dr Singh.

Lifestyle changes to make if you’re prone to migraines

1) Identify the triggers

Since migraines can be triggered by a variety of things, knowing what affects yours can be helpful. “Keeping a small journal definitely helps. Every time you start feeling a little ache in your head write down the food you ate, any medication you’re on, emotions you’re feeling. Over a period of time it’ll help you identify the pattern and reduce the recurrence,” advises Arouba Kabir, mental health therapist and founder, Enso Wellness.

For some, weather can be a major trigger. For some people, weather changes (like a sudden rainy day or a storm) may cause imbalances in brain chemicals, including serotonin, which can prompt a migraine.

2) Improve gut health

According to Payal Kothari, integrative nutritionist and gut health coach, gut health is the gamechanger in treating migraine. “The most under-rated and neglected organ for migraine solutions is the gut. The gut-brain axis which refers to the bidirectional biochemical pathway that links the central nervous system to the gastrointestinal tract plays a huge role in a migraine attack,” she explains. Kothari recommends plant-based foods with prebiotics and probiotics for those who are prone to migraines.

3) Exercise often

When you’re prone to migraines, running and other jumping-related activity could be a trigger. However, yoga and pilates poses, and other types of stretching can help improve muscle tightness and tension in the head, neck, and shoulders. This can reduce the intensity of the migraine attack.

4) Beware of hormonal changes

Hormones play a significant role in terms of migraines. “Many women tend to experience more migraine headaches during, or just before, their period.” says Dr Singh. Some oral contraceptives can increase the severity of migraines, so paying attention to these medications can be important.

5) Avoid stress

Though changes in weather and sleep cycle are common triggers, stress remains one of the potent inducer of migraine attacks. “Intense emotions can cause alteration in the chemicals secreted in the brain causing a direct or indirect effect on the nerves in the brain which leads to a debilitating headache. In some individuals stress itself acts as a trigger whereas, sometimes it increases the susceptibility to other triggers like food, smell etc,” says Kabir. Relaxation techniques like biofeedback, meditation and acupuncture can help improve the body’s ability to fight stress.

The article was first published in Vogue


  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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