A migraine is a mega-headache. It usually occurs on one side of the head and is accompanied by severe, throbbing pain. Sufferers can experience side effects like nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to lights and sound. Some people experience a warning bell before the onset of a migraine – symptoms like spotty vision and light flashes or tingling called an "aura." Some experience physical effects like constipation and fluid retention, food cravings, or mood swings. The migraine can last from four hours to 72 hours if left untreated.
Chronic migraines sufferers experience this debilitating condition upwards of eight to fifteen times per month. That sounds extreme, but studies estimate that 3.3 million people in the United States fall into the chronic migraine category. And most of them – nearly two-thirds – have not sought professional help or relief.
Several factors influence who is prone to migraines and how frequently they may suffer an attack.
Genetics: Unlike a common headache, 50 percent of those who suffer from migraines are predisposed to them genetically
Age: Migraines can begin at any age but tend to become less frequent after your 30s
Weather: Migraines may be triggered by a shift in barometric pressure
Stress: Stress triggers a whole host of health risks, and migraine onset is no different
Food, alcohol, and caffeine: Food additives, processed foods, and salty foods can contribute to a migraine episode
Dehydration: Regular headaches, migraines, and other health risks are associated with dehydration
Sleep disruption: Lack of sleep or a change in sleep patterns can trigger a migraine
Hormones: Women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines onset by hormonal shifts. Hormone medications like oral contraceptives may also play a role.
Painkillers are only a temporary solution
The over-use of painkillers as a therapy to combat migraines can lead to other serious side effects, including more migraines! The risk seems to be highest with aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine combinations. Overuse headaches may also occur if you take aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) for more than 14 days a month or triptans, sumatriptan (Imitrex, Tosymra), or rizatriptan (Maxalt, Maxalt-MLT) for more than nine days a month. (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/symptoms-causes/syc-20360201)
New research recommends chiropractic adjustments as an evidence-based approach to reducing the pain associated with migraine headaches. Regular adjustments can help reduce emotional stress and the stress on the muscles that support your neck and improve your range of motion.
Finding natural relief from headaches through lifestyle changes and functional medicine like chiropractic care offers you long-term solutions without the unwanted side effects of a lifetime of medication.