Headaches and migraines can be one of the most debilitating sources of pain out there. This is only made worse by the fact that it stems from an area that is physically unreachable, the inside of the head!
Headaches come in many various different forms with many different causes, from cluster headaches to chronic migraines. For the sake of simplicity, we're going to focus on mild to severe migraines in this article- including what causes them, ways to relieve them, and how to prevent them in the future.
What is a Migraine?
A migraine feels like throbbing or pulsing usually beginning on one side of the head, and later extending to the other. The intensity of this can usually result in nausea, vomiting and/or sensitivity to lights, smells and sounds. These types of headaches can last from hours to sometimes even days- making it impossible to carry out your daily tasks.
Symptoms of a migraine can begin up to two days before the actual headache. Some of these include fatigue, very frequent yawning, irritability, food cravings and neck stiffness.
While there are many reasons why your body could trigger a migraine, doctors believe migraines are caused by dilation and constriction of the blood vessels in the head.
Unfortunately migraines can't be permanently cured, but there are several tips to help manage them that have been doctor recommended. Some of these include over the counter medication (such as Tylenol), stress management and lifestyle changes, acupuncture, and electrical stimulation.
In recent studies from Harvard Health, electrical stimulation was found to be extremely successful in reducing the constriction of blood vessels in the head by encouraging the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain. Their studies have demonstrated that "electrical stimulation of branches of the trigeminal nerve over the forehead can treat migraine headaches and even prevent them."
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The key to reducing migraines is prevention. One way you can prevent headaches is through dietary changes. High sugar foods, high nitrate foods (processed meats) and alcohol have been known to be the most common migraine triggers. This study argues that it's not actually the food itself, but the cravings that hint at low blood sugar or lack of well-rounded nutrition. The best way to find out is through trial and error and recognizing your personal nutritional triggers, as everyone's will be different.