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compare your views and be more aware of your migraine problem. These

groups offer huge moral support and guidance too as you realize that you

are not the lone person fighting an unending battle.


Take good care of your overall health. This may prevent many

migraine attacks. Do not create difficult goals or deadlines. Wear

sunglasses and other shaded glasses to protect your eyes from the glare

of sunlight or other light too. Do not become tense with the small things in

life as such incidents are a part of our lives. Take things in your stride and

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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deal with them daily. Do not carry forward your misgivings, emotions, or

other stress. Live in day-tight compartments.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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Page 45 of 87

14. Migraine Headaches and Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea is a major cause for a migraine. Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder

that keeps you from getting the proper sleep which you need. Common

symptoms include loud snoring and awakening in the middle of the night,

tiredness and overall lethargy.

Instead, you sleep excessively during the daytime. The effects of such irregular

sleep patterns are headaches, weight gain, impotency, slow healing, poor

temperament and other health issues.

Lack of proper and adequate sleep denies the necessary rest for your body. You

are less alert, develop bad moods and cognitive performance levels are low. You

suffer from persistent migraine headaches, which sometimes last for a whole day

or more.

Sometimes, you experience a sharp pain shooting from the base of your skull to

your temples and forehead. This may be the warning signals of a severe

migraine attack.

The best way to counter-attack against such sleep disorders is to seek

professional medical advice. You could also benefit from making behavioral and

lifestyle changes in your daily routine.

Nasal Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) masks can help resolve your

sleep apnea problems by providing sufficient oxygen during your sleep. Doctors

could also conduct a study of your sleep to record body movements and

disturbances in sleep.

These studies help doctors to diagnose the core problem and administer suitable

remedies. Curing sleep apnea can relieve your migraine headaches which result

from such apnea.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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Part-V: Natural Remedies for Migraine headaches

15. Natural Remedies to Prevent

or Ease Migraine Headaches

There are many medicines designed to alleviate your migraine pain. These

medicines try to eradicate the pain but the pain-causing elements remain in your

constitution. So, you might experience the same type of migraine again.

Natural remedies may prove to be the long-term solution for your migraine pain

or ease your migraine pain. A migraine is often due to certain food triggers

consumed during the twenty-four hours before the migraine. Maintaining a diary

to record your migraine pain, time of their occurrences along with details of your food intake can help you focus on possible suspects.

Many people develop adverse reactions to dairy products. Therefore, reducing or

doing away with milk or butter may bring in positive results. Foods containing

sulfites and nitrites, like meat, chocolate, caffeine and red wine can also trigger a migraine attack. These dilate your blood capillaries and increase blood flow to

brain. This leads to migraine headaches.

Drink ginger tea to reduce the effects of nausea during a migraine attack.

Intake of two to four grams of ginger daily is good for your health.

Acupuncture promotes stimulation across the channels of energy throughout

your body.

Acupuncture specialists can administer proper treatment by massaging with

forefinger and thumbs. This may offer good relief from your migraine headaches.

Inhaling essential oils like Rosemary, Lavender, and Jasmine can lessen migraine


Magnetic necklaces seem also to offer relief for some people.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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16. Treating Migraine Headaches with Acupressure

Sometimes, alternative therapies are effective in treating migraine headaches.

Acupressure is one such treatment method that uses the concept of application

of pressure to specific points on the body to relieve pain. Acupressure is based

on the ancient Chinese system of healing.

To relieve pain, you must use your fingers and thumb to massage the pressure

points on the head, around the eyes, at the base of the neck and on the temples.

You can massage with your thumbs at the base of the skull for a few minutes,

with your head held back slightly.

You can massage at these specific pressure points for symptomatic relief.

Massaging the GB20 point may give relief from neck pain and migraine

headaches. For the full effect of this massage, you must sit on the chair with

your thumbs pressing the GB20 points located at the base of the head, at some

distance from the center of the neck.

This point is located at the base of the skull where it joins the neck and back. It is used in the treatment of acute disorders, such as the common cold, influenza,

headache, neck pain, and fever. It may lower blood pressure and relaxes tension

in the area of the eyes.

You can put pressure, using your thumb, on the Lv 3 point, which is the space

between the big toe and the second toe. You must repeat this for a few minutes

for both feet.

In the book, ‘Modern Clinic Necessities for Acupuncture and Moxibustion’ by

Zhang Ren and Dong Zhi Lin, you can learn about the different areas that you

can press to gain relief.

Some people have experienced almost instant relief by pressing hard on the

fleshy point between their thumb and index finger for a few minutes.

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You must first become familiar with all the pressure points on the body and know

which points to press to treat the various types of migraine headaches.

Once you learn the points, breathe deeply and do not massage for more than a

few minutes at a time. Acupressure may help in treatment of migraine


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17. Treating Migraine Headaches with Massage Therapy

There are specific points at the base of the neck and the temples that are

believed by some practitioners to be trigger points of migraine headaches.

Massaging these trigger points can help relieve some of the pain of migraine

headaches. When the pain subsides, the person can sleep better and this helps

them to cope better with migraine headaches. When undergoing a massage,

remember to be gentle.

If you experience any pain, stop immediately.

Always get a massage from a trained professional with the proper qualifications,

to avoid injury.

The basis of massage treatment is healing by touch. Hence, masseurs mostly use

their hands and feet for the massage. Masseurs use carefully applied pressure to

relieve the pressure on the trigger points and to bring respite to the individual.

A massage is beneficial because it improves blood circulation and digestion and

helps those with hypertension. To start with, you must undergo a massage a few

times a week for about two months.

There are different systems of massage therapy, each with its benefits.

Reflexology believes in massaging specific points on the soles of the feet that

correspond to the different areas of the body, to give relief from the pain of

migraine headaches.

Other massages include a head massage to soothe the nerves of the brain that

send the impulses of pain. You can undergo an acupressure massage or a deep

tissue massage, depending on the intensity of your pain. An individual suffering

from migraine headaches may benefit from massage therapy, provided a

qualified person does the massage.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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18. Treating Migraine Headaches with Detoxification

Today we lead stressful lives and pay little attention to leading a healthy life.

We eat junk food in large quantities, since nobody has time to cook nutritious

food. As a result, we ingest many toxins through the food and the environment.

The body has a mechanism for eliminating these substances. However, when we

abuse our body by over consumption of junk food, the level of the toxins

increases and the body cannot function properly, leading to an increase in


These poisonous substances may help to cause diseases like cancer or other

lifestyle diseases like obesity and heart disease.

In such a scenario, it is a good idea to undergo a detoxification program to

cleanse the body and the soul. The detoxification involves elimination of waste

products through the body by consuming a light diet of fruits and vegetables or

totally keeping off food for a day. Detoxification can lead to a healthier lifestyle and peace of mind that can minimize occurrence of migraine headaches.

You must adopt a detoxification program based on your needs and follow the

natural seasonal cycle for this. Include natural organic foods and consume a lot

of water. Do not use allopathic medicines for any ailment, but go for naturopathy

or a homeopathic system of medicines. Consult a qualified naturopath for a

suitable detoxification plan if you are not confident of doing this yourself.

Initially, you may experience weakness but, with determination, you can undergo

a detoxification successfully.

Detoxification introduces you to a healthier lifestyle. Undergoing this process

helps you feel light and free of stress. This, in turn, minimizes the trigger factors of migraine headaches and may bring some relief.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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19. Treating Migraine Headaches with Herbs

Herbal remedies for treating migraine headaches may be effective and some

people claim that they have no side effects. These herbs act over a period of

time and one must take them as a preventive remedy, not while experiencing

migraine headaches.

You must consult a naturopath to get information about the correct dosage and

the form in which to consume the herb. Only take these herbs under your

doctor’s supervision if you are taking medicines regularly, to avoid any

adverse reaction.

The most popular herb to treat migraine headaches is feverfew. Other useful herbs are ginger, peppermint, willow, gingko biloba and passionflower. You can

consume these herbs as a nasal spray or in the form of a light tea.

Avoid peppermint if you suffer from acidity.

Gingko improves blood circulation to the brain and may relieve a migraine.

However, it can react unfavorably with aspirin, so never take the two together.

Pepper or capsaicin inhales as a nasal spray improves pain tolerance and can

prevent cluster headaches.

You can use herbal oil to massage your head and temples to get relief from the


When undergoing herbal treatment, be sure to consume pure extracts sourced

from a proper store. Always ensure that you are not allergic to any of the herbs

to avoid future complications.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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20. Treating Migraine Headaches with Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a system of pain relief based on the use of needles to stimulate

the nervous system. Acupuncture can be a preventive therapy in migraine


Acupuncture must be limited to the arms and legs and never performed on the

neck and head region.

The treatment involves inserting needles at several pressure points so that the

blood flow in this region increases. The acupuncturist adjusts the needles

manually or by electrical stimulation. This helps in preventing migraine

headaches and is most effective when done in the sitting position.

Be sure to undergo this treatment at the hands of a qualified acupuncturist, to

avoid mishaps. Ensure that the needles used for the procedure are hygienic.

Puncturing at the wrong points can cause a lung collapse that can be fatal for the patient. Unhygienic needles can cause infections and, in severe cases, lead to


Acupuncture stimulates the hypothalamus and helps control the nerves that

cause the sensation of pain. It is intended to restore the balance of energy in an individual’s body, so that he gets a reprieve from migraine headaches.

Another explanation for the efficacy of acupuncture is that the treatment releases opioids that have a palliative effect.

Researchers are conducting several studies to try to confirm the effectiveness of

acupressure in pain relief.

Practitioners believe that it can form an effective part of a person’s migraine

headache treatment by improving the flow of blood and proper stimulation of his

nervous system.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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21. Treating Migraine Headaches with Biofeedback

Different alternative systems may help in the holistic treatment of migraine

headaches. Biofeedback is one of them, where the individual masters the art of

controlling some of their body mechanisms. The person must undergo

comprehensive training with a qualified therapist for a few months before

venturing alone.

The first step in biofeedback is to relax your muscles and regulate your

breathing. The success of biofeedback depends on how well you can judge your

nervous system by reading the indication from your body temperature and

muscle tension.

By becoming aware of an impending tension, you can learn to relax and to

control your breathing, to minimize the stress. This is intended to prevent the

occurrence of migraine headaches.

You can start the training sessions for a few minutes several times a week. The

sessions involve the use of instruments to measure various body parameters that

indicate tension. Once you master the technique, you can start the biofeedback

mechanism yourself, without these aids.

Before the onset of a migraine, your hands will turn cold and you may start

sweating profusely. You can use biofeedback to think of pleasant things and learn

to calm down until your body temperature returns to normal.

You can use biofeedback as part of treatment of migraine headaches. The

advantage is that you minimize the intake of pain relievers as you gain control

over the symptoms of the migraine. Moreover controlling your senses is the first

step towards the effective management of migraine headaches.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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22. Treating Migraine Headaches with Exercise

It is necessary to exercise often to lead a healthy life. You must exercise for at least half an hour a few times a week. Exercising helps improve blood circulation, relieves tension in the muscles, and the fresh air is good for your health.

The simplest and least demanding exercise is walking. You can walk outdoors in

a park, away from the congestion of the city. If you have a busy schedule, you

can walk on the treadmill or exercise at home on an exercise bike.

You can become a member of a health club and workout a few times a week.

This takes some effort and involves an ongoing financial cost, but the healthy

lifestyle minimizes occurrence of migraine headaches.

If the weather is poor, do mall walks. Many people use the mall as a place to get their walks in the early morning.

Exercising releases endorphins that minimize the pain and thus reduces

occurrence of the migraines. You can try light aerobic exercises a few times a

week under a trained instructor. The workout must include a warm up, a twenty-

minute exercise session and a cooling down period. Many studies prove a direct

co-relation between regular exercising and a reduction in the number of migraine


Mild neck exercises can provide relief as they improve circulation in the neck and head region. However, go to a licensed chiropractor to get the maximum benefit

from this treatment.

Setting up an exercise schedule just needs a little determination and some

investment. The results are very positive and can reduce your dependence on

drugs. Thus, it is worthwhile to exercise regularly to prevent migraine


Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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23. Treating Migraine Headaches

with Vitamins and Supplements

Scientists have conducted several studies to prove that specific vitamins and

supplements provide relief from migraine headaches. Many supplements may be

effective as preventive agents but you must only take them under a doctor’s

guidance to ensure the correct dosage of these supplements and ensure there

are no harmful side effects.

Check for any adverse interactions with your regular medicines, before taking

these vitamins.

Here is a list of some supplements that some people believe are useful:

Magnesium, taken twice daily, may help to maintain the flexibility of the blood vessels and avoid migraines.

You can take Vitamin B to reduce the intensity of the headaches.

Fatty acids like gamma-linolenic (GLA) and alpha-linolenic (ALA) fatty acid minimize the occurrence of migraine headaches.

You can take l-arginine, useful in the synthesis of nitric oxide that is essential for proper movement of the arteries.

A combination of calcium and vitamin D may also reduce occurrence of


A standard daily multi-vitamin capsule or tablet may be useful.

Vitamin C is present in citrus fruits seems to strengthen the blood vessels. Also, consuming foods that are rich in bioflavonoids are believed by some to aid the

absorption of Vitamin C.

Some people take fish oil capsules daily and claim that they get relief from

migraine headaches.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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Some compounds of feverfew and magnesium seem to be effective in

prevention of a migraine with some sufferers. Some people benefit from taking tryptophan in some form, as it has an effect on the serotonin in your body.

Serotonin plays many roles. It can have an effect on the blood vessels. When

serotonin levels are high, blood vessels constrict (shrink). When serotonin levels fall, the blood vessels dilate (swell). This swelling can cause pain or other


Many things can affect the level of serotonin in your body, including your level of blood sugar, certain foods and changes in your estrogen level if you're a woman.

These vitamins and supplements may be effective in treatment of migraine

headaches when taken over a period. One must have patience when taking


If you experience any ill effects, immediately stop taking them.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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24. Treating Migraine Headaches

with Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, is a health care system according to the

age-old medical practices of China. This medical system has its roots in two

classic texts, ‘Nei Jing’ and ‘Nan Jing’, which were written between 100 B.C and

200 A.D.

TCM practitioners believe in the core concept that diseases are due to imbalances

in body energy levels. Therefore, TCM does not aim at curing a particular

ailment. Instead, it is a process to relieve your body of current imbalances and

assure body functioning in proper alignment with Nature.

TCM attempts effective relief for your migraine headaches. But the relief

obtained is not the same for any two persons suffering from a migraine even if

they exhibit similar symptoms.

TCM believes a migraine to be due to problems in your individual body

constitution. Therefore, traditional Chinese remedies do not offer any quick,

temporary relief from your migraine headaches. Rather, they determine the

imbalance causing factors and treat them. This changes your body responses to

such imbalances and you receive relief from future migraine pain.

Chinese medicine practitioners analyze your body constitution by conducting a

physical examination of your body parts like eyes, tongue, skin color, urinary and bowel movements, sleep and food patterns, and the like. The pulse and the look

of your tongue are tools for TCM practitioners to understand your biological


They suggest remedies for your migraine after coordinating them with your


Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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25. Treating Migraine Headaches with Homeopathy

Homeopathy practitioners believe in treating migraine headaches by using

medicines made from natural ingredients. Always get this treatment under

consultation of a licensed homeopath for the best results.

A homeopath can diagnose your disease holistically and prescribe the correct

dosage accordingly. The following is a list of homeopathic medicines depending

on the different types of migraines.

Bryonia may be useful in treating a heavy headache on the left side of the head where the person cannot tolerate any movement and feels nauseous.

Belladonna is used to treat migraine headaches on the lower head and neck


Gelsemium may be suitable for those who complain of weakness and affected

vision. Fear exacerbates this headache and it may be reduced by urination.

Cimicifuga may be helpful for headaches experienced during menstrual periods or long-term studying. The head pulsates, as do the neck muscles.

Cyclamen may relieve headaches that affect the person’s vision. The individual who needs this treatment is susceptible to cold and may experience a pain in the


Ignatia may relieve the headache that follows an emotional outburst. These

headaches can also cause painful spasms in the face and the neck muscles.

Iris versicolor may relieve migraines that cause blurred vision.

Kali bichromicum may minimize the headaches over the eyebrows.

Lachesis may relieve migraine due to ill-fitting clothes.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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Other homeopathic remedies for a variety of migraine headaches include

Natrum muriaticum, Sanguinaria, Sepia, silica and Spigelia.

Homeopathy has a broad spectrum of medicines to treat the different types of

migraine headaches.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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26. Treating Migraine Headaches with Craniosacral Therapy

The brain is a complex system that forms the central nervous system along with

the spinal cord. The craniosacral system attempts to treat migraine headaches

by working on the fluids and membranes that cover these two organs.

Any wrong move on the practitioner’s part can immobilize you for life and cause

severe problems. You must undergo this therapy under supervision of a licensed

practitioner, since it involves working on the most sensitive areas of the body.

The therapy sessions can last for about an hour where the practitioner monitors

the fluid flow to the brain and detects any abnormalities in this flow. He then

gently applies pressure to relieve the stress from those areas and to bring respite to the person. The pressure relaxes the nerve or the blood vessels that were

constricted and causing the headache.

The practitioner uses very light weight on the affected area to remove the

detected constraint.

There are several critics of this therapy and the claims that it is effective for

migraine headaches, neck and back pains and various other brain related

diseases. Critics claim that the bones of the skull fuse in the teenage years and it is difficult to detect throbbing in this area.

No studies can prove any positive impact of this therapy. Therefore, undergo this

therapy at your own risk, since it is not an accepted method of treatment for

migraine headaches.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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27. Treating Migraine Headaches with Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy is a therapeutic and behavioral relief for treatment of brain

disorders like anxiety and depression. This therapy aims at reducing the

negativity in you. Negativity leads to anxiousness causing stress. Stress is

believed by some to be the major culprit behind most migraine headaches.

Cognitive therapists or practitioners help you to become capable of controlling

your flow of thoughts. These therapists offer behavioral training to cope with any form of stress. You learn various skills to control and form positive responses to stressful situations.

Cognitive therapy does not function by itself. It is the culmination of positive

therapy with certain mood stabilizers. These mood stabilizers are medications for

treating many mental disorders.

The foundation of cognitive therapy is about coordinated interaction between

your feelings or emotions, thinking patterns or cognition, and behavioral

tendencies and patterns. The main force is your thinking power or your thoughts.

Positive thoughts bring forth positive behavior while negative thoughts bring

forth negative behavior. Hence, cognitive therapy aims at development of

positive behavior and elimination of negative behavior.

Reduction or elimination of negative behavior is not an instant process. Cognitive therapy provides you sufficient support to overcome obstacles and forgo negative

thoughts and behavior. You remain upbeat about your very existence. This

positive outlook helps you overcome all kinds of stress in life, thereby reducing

the incidence of migraine headaches in you.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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28. Treating Migraine Headaches

with Energy Healing

Energy healing is the adoption of different techniques to restore body energy

levels and maintain an uninterrupted and regulated flow within it. ‘Energy’ here

refers to the universal healing power within every person. Such energy healing

assumes different names like ki in Japanese, qi in Chinese, prana in India and so


Energy healing therapists believe that there are many energy patterns within

your body. Such flows of energy evolve and spurts out in the form of an aura

around you. A balanced flow of energy in their proper and regulated circles

ensures good health. Disruption in this flow signals physical and emotional

upsets causing pain and disease.

Energy healing is believed by practitioners to be effective in treating migraines.

They say that you can use it as a preventive therapy too, as energy blockages

are a prelude to the onset of disease. Energy healing is available in different

techniques like healing touch, Reiki, therapeutic touch, shiatsu, and others.

Energy healing therapists or practitioners use different tools like colored and dim lights, aromatherapy, harmonics, and dialogs to relieve your migraine problems.

Depending on the intensity and severity of your migraine, you could need just a

few or several hour-long energy healing sessions.

In all, energy healing is no substitute for migraine medications. You can take up

these besides your regular treatments. Severe depression patients with

migraines need their physiotherapist with them during such sessions.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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29. Treating Migraine Headaches with Ayurveda

Ayurveda is an age-old form of Indian medicine. According to Ayurveda, a

migraine is due to modern lifestyle patterns disrupting the body and mind

constitution, which is tridosha.

Body disorders in Ayurveda could be due to pitta, vata, or kapha. However,

excessive disorder levels cause pitta to move into the main body systems like the

cardiovascular system. This disrupts the normal flow of blood. Characteristics of

pitta include light sensitivity, anger, irritability, bleeding nose and pain.

Blood vessels dilate and put pressure on the nerves which leads to migraine

attacks. The most effective remedy is to reduce pitta by avoiding consumption of

spicy and fermented foods, citrus and sour fruits.

Intake of soothing pitta diet is the best remedy. Such pitta herbal remedy

consists of a mixture of brahmi, shatavari, jutamamsi and musta. Half a

teaspoon of such a remedy in lukewarm water after breakfast and dinner can

reduce pitta levels substantially.

Other Ayurveda herbal remedies include application of sandalwood oil on the

forehead, temples, nose, and heart, using gudachi, bala, and ashwagandha, with

many liver cleansers like brahmi, aloe vera gel, rhubarb, and fennel and ginger


Avoid direct sunlight and go for moonlight walks near water and flower gardens.

Hot oil head massage is also an effective remedy. Different yogic postures with

cooling pranayama are effective remedies to reduce pitta and associated

migraine. A gentle squeeze of your earlobes by pulling your ears down and

yawning can lessen pressure on blood vessels, thereby providing relief during

migraine attacks.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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30. Treating Migraine Headaches

with Environment and Lifestyle Changes

Often, a migraine occurs because of faulty lifestyle patterns. Certain

environmental factors also cause severe headaches leading to a migraine.

Environmental Changes

Inhaling of substances like paint solvents and industrial chemicals can trigger a

migraine attack. Carbon monoxide, natural gas, propane, cigarette smoke and

other gases contain specific toxins. These toxins cause headaches on inhalation.

Similarly, Formaldehyde evaporation takes place from furniture, carpets and

plywood. This evaporation contains various air pollution gases, which cause

migraine. You can stay away from such allergic substances and places to reduce

the incidence of your migraine attacks. Also, avoid bright lights and loud sounds.

Lifestyle Changes

Specific changes to your lifestyle patterns cannot only reduce but may eliminate

your migraine episodes. Timely and healthy meals are necessary. Develop a

regular exercise regimen with sufficient physical exercise for all body muscles.

Additionally, set a mental relaxation time to just be with yourself and soothers

like music, gardening, reading books etc. Also, deal with one thing at a time and

do not overload yourself. Reduce stress by avoiding any disputes and resolving

any that you cannot avoid in a calm manner.

Get sound sleep for around nine hours every night. Develop a steady pattern of

sleeping and waking. Reduce smoking and your intake of caffeine. You could also

stay from potential migraine triggers like specific food items, alcohol and certain fruits and vegetables.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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31. Treating Migraine Headaches During Pregnancy

Migraines are more common among women and therefore, you need to take

extra care during pregnancies. There are no definitive medical reports to suggest

any specific medication for a migraine during pregnancy. Pregnancy is a period to

avoid any sort of extra medications, let alone for a migraine, as you are unaware

of the consequences of such medicines on your unborn baby.

The best way to combat migraines during pregnancy is to follow a slow tapering

off of medication under the supervision of your own doctor. Start by planning

your pregnancy and reduce migraine medications months before you conceive.

In some severe migraine attacks, tapering off medication is not possible. Expert

medical opinion can help you understand effects of medication on your baby.

Certain medicines like beta-blockers and tricyclics are comparatively safe while

medications like Depakote and Imitrex injections could cause birth defects.

Food cravings are a sure feature of pregnancy. Pregnant women need to take

extra care of their food habits. Avoid foods with additives, foods high in MSG and other common triggers like aged cheese, sourdough bread, certain citrus fruits

and others.

Sometimes, migraine attacks start during pregnancy. You then need to have a

thorough medical examination to check for tumors, meningitis or other

neurological diseases.

You can offset many a migraine attack by resting or sleeping in a cool, dark room

with an ice pack on your forehead. Alternatively, take very small doses of

caffeine to get relief.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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Page 66 of 87

32. Herbs for Aromatherapy

to Treat Migraine Headaches

Aromatherapy is a practice of using simple plant or herbal oils for treating

different psychological and physiological disorders. This therapy is as old as

human civilization itself. This is an alternative form of treatment. The fresh

scents of flowers or extracted oils may help to reduce tension and heal

associated headaches like a migraine.

It is best to consult your physician before trying aromatherapy for

migraine relief.

Aromatherapy offers different essential oils like Lavender, Jasmine, Peppermint,

Eucalyptus, Rosemary and Melissa as remedial relief for migraines. You need to

mix small quantities of such oils with other carrier oils or alcohol and then apply lightly to the temples and forehead with a gentle massage. Sniffing such oils

leads to intake of such oils to different parts of the brain. These may reduce

emotional upheavals and hormone releases.

A few precautions include avoidance of rosemary and marjoram oils by pregnant

women and patients with high blood pressure or epilepsy.

Never apply such aroma oils directly on your skin without appropriate dilution.

Do not use such oils near your eyes. Homeopathy users should avoid peppermint


Aromatherapy is not permanent relief or a ‘cure’ for your migraine. It is only a

complementary therapy. Effects are very individualistic and can differ greatly

from person to person. For some it may offer instant and good relief from stress

and relax your nerves, while it may not have any effect at all for others.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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33. Herbs for Cleansing Teas

to Treat Migraine Headaches

Cleansing teas like ginger tea may relieve many migraine headaches. Add either

20g of dried ginger or 40g of fresh ginger to three cups of water. Simmer on low

heat for twenty to thirty minutes. Pour out the needed quantity and store the

rest in a cool place. You can refrigerate it if you want to use it the next day.

Cleansing teas help improve functioning of kidneys by toning and rejuvenating

them. Diuretic herbs in tea are good detoxifiers. These detoxifiers may release

pressure on your blood vessels and nerves.

These herbs help eliminate water retention in kidneys and flush out toxins from

your body. This may reduce migraine headaches.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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34. Relieving Your Stress Triggers

Although there are many different migraine triggers, the most common and

prevalent triggers are stress and food items. Stress tops the list in causing

migraine headaches. Our modern lifestyle is so demanding that stress exists in

every part of life.

Stress will continue to play a dominant role in the future too. Although a difficult proposition, the most effective solution to your migraine problems is considerable reduction of stress levels.

The incidence of migraine headaches is higher in women than in men. Financial

stress is common to both genders. Such stress tends to control your moods. Your

body responses vary according to your moods.

Higher stress leads to depression and associated pressure on your nervous and

vascular systems. This causes a migraine. Lowering stress levels can eliminate

depression but may not provide relief from migraine headaches.

Hence, effective treatment is to bring about changes in your physical and

emotional reactions to stressful situations. These stress-relieving techniques

include relaxation tools and biofeedback.

You can also monitor the occurrence and intensity of your migraine headaches.

You can then correlate stressful incidents that trigger emotions or physical

exertions at such times. These could be the causes of your migraine attacks.

Evaluation of different therapies can help you locate the ideal de-stressor for

providing relief from your migraine attacks.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


The Complete Guide to Migraine Headaches by Alice Peart

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35. Avoiding Foods that

Trigger Migraine Headaches

Food is an important migraine trigger. More than 25% of migraines are due to

dietary factors. Food and their additives may contain certain chemicals that

affect blood pressure. This restricts blood vessels and reduces blood flow to

different body parts and mainly your brain. This leads to migraines.

Common chemicals present in food triggers are Monosodium glutamate (MSG),

Phenyl ethylamine, Sodium, Tryamine and Histam 5. Migraine food triggers may

include dairy products, pickles and marinated food, chocolate and cocoa, citrus

fruits, raisins, bananas, plums, peanuts and peanut butter and fermented

products with high levels of soy sauce.

It is easy to prescribe avoidance of migraine trigger foods. However, to arrive at the exact trigger is a difficult job. Different foods function as triggers in different individuals. You cannot eliminate large sections of your regular food intake as it could lead to lack of sufficient nutrition.

Eliminate the major suspects like chocolate, Tryamine foods like aged cheese and

red wines and sodium-rich foods like pickles and marinated items. Similarly,

monosodium glutamate is a food additive which is also a trigger.

You can reduce the effect of such triggers by reducing your intake of them.

Thereafter, introduce them in small quantities to try to isolate your major

triggers. Stay away from such foods for a considerable time to regroup from your

migraine attacks.

You can try including them later.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


The Complete Guide to Migraine Headaches by Alice Peart

Page 70 of 87

36. Treating Migraine Headaches

with Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques may work wonders for your migraine headache. However,

it is not simple or easy to start relaxing during your migraine attack. You have to concentrate deeply to understand and develop relaxation techniques.

Relaxation techniques include autogenic training, progressive muscle relaxation

and meditation. Autogenic training uses your visual imagination to progress into

a state of deep relaxation. You think of any peaceful place, and thereafter try to concentrate on moving your physical sensations from your feet upward to your


The second stage in your relaxation techniques is slow and steady relaxation of

all your body muscles. You start from the muscles in your toes progressing to

those in your head.

The final step in this relaxation technique is meditation. You concentrate on

repetitive utterances of specific words or phrases, while concentrating on any

single form or point. All these together reduce your stress levels considerably

and eliminate negative thoughts so that you can cope better with your stress.

Relaxation techniques for treating migraines consist of deep breathing, stretching exercises, visualization and other passive methods. All these techniques aim at

reducing stress factors in your muscles and brain. Reduction of stress can help

reduce your migraine.

Relaxation techniques have no side effects and help to improve your overall

health and mental stability. Besides a relief from migraine attacks, you also

benefit through improved body awareness and agility.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


The Complete Guide to Migraine Headaches by Alice Peart

Page 71 of 87

37. Relieving Caffeine Headaches

Caffeine is both a reliever and possible cause for your migraine headaches, or

more aptly - caffeine headaches. Excess of caffeine causes severe headaches

while small amounts of caffeine in restricted dosages can prevent severe


Most migraine sufferers withdraw their caffeine intake abruptly to prevent

migraine headaches. This is a good proposition provided you are able to cope

with such withdrawal. However, you can try withdrawing your caffeine intake

over a period of time, cutting back slowly.

Theoretically, total abstinence from caffeine may reduce or eliminate migraines.

In reality, though, this is not the case. Stopping caffeine means stopping all

other caffeine related products like tea, liqueur, pudding, chocolate, diet pills, energy drinks and so on.

Also, maintain a diary of your intake of caffeine in different products with the

time and amount of dosage. In addition, also note if such intake triggered any

headaches at any particular time. This will help in getting relief from caffeine


Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


The Complete Guide to Migraine Headaches by Alice Peart

Page 72 of 87

38. Can You Use Feverfew for Migraine Relief?

Feverfew has many side effects like mouth ulcers, sore mouth, upset

stomach, and sometimes damage to muscles. Pregnant women should

avoid feverfew, as it is a natural abortifacient.

Feverfew is an herb from the chrysanthemum family with the biological name,

Tanacetum parthenium. Feverfew is the same as Bachelor’s button, and has been

a popular herbal remedy since the Dark Ages. The earliest use of the herb was to

alleviate fever symptoms; hence, the name is feverfew.

Feverfew is a common preventive for migraines. It cannot provide relief from

your migraine headache once the pain starts. Nevertheless, some people

take it as a preventive measure a few days before the onset of a migraine.

Feverfew herbs contain parthenolide and can restrict the formation of certain

chemicals like serotonin and prostaglandins. These chemicals inhibit the flow of

blood through your blood vessels. Therefore, intake of feverfew may ease the

occurrences and intensity of migraine headaches.

Feverfew is available in the firm of capsules, pills, tinctures, and teas. Most

prefer feverfew capsules and pills. Some try chewing the leaves while some use

the freeze-dried form of the herb. You should take feverfew after food.

Some claim the best relief is available by chewing one small leaf each day.

However, feverfew tastes very bitter.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


The Complete Guide to Migraine Headaches by Alice Peart

Page 73 of 87

Part-VI: Treatment of Migraine Headaches

39. Treatment Options for Migraine Headaches

A patient who has frequent migraine attacks must first consult a doctor for treatment options. Treatment of migraine headaches follows a two-step


The first is pain relief during a migraine and the second is prevention of the

headaches. A chronic sufferer must keep a diary of his daily activities, food

habits and sleep patterns. In this, he must note the frequency, intervals and

duration of each migraine headache. He must discuss this record with his doctor,

who can help co-relate the triggers for migraines. It is advisable to keep away

from the triggering factors of a migraine.

If you suspect a migraine approaching, you must immediately take preventive

medication and rest in a dark, silent room. This can provide relief within a short time.

It is a bad idea to avoid medication, as it can worsen your condition. The dosage

of the medicine depends on the regularity and intensity of the headaches. Some

people may be allergic to specific drugs or may suffer from other health


Consult your doctor who will keep in mind all these factors before prescribing any medicine.

The doctor will usually start you on a paracetamol or an ibuprofen as a palliative.

These are effective for mild to medium migraines but repeated consumption can

lead to stomach ulcers and gastric bleeding. Some people might experience a

stroke or a heart attack by taking these NSAIDS. You can even get reverse

headaches due to regular consumption of these drugs as they start having a

negative effect on your body mechanisms.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


The Complete Guide to Migraine Headaches by Alice Peart

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Other pain relief medication specially developed to relieve migraines is triptans

that imitates the effect of serotonin, by attaching to serotonin receptors and

contracting the blood vessels. This drug is available as a tablet, spray and

injections. It brings relief within a few minutes but has side-effects like vomiting and weakness.

Ergots are another class of anti-migraine medication with many side effects, so

they are not prescribed much.

There are some treatments, like metoclopramide, for the vomiting which goes

with some migraine attack. This works best when taken before the onset of the

migraine. It aids emptying of the stomach so that other migraine medication can

be absorbed quickly, to bring faster relief to the patient.

You can take preventive medicines to reduce occurrence of a migraine. However,

only take them under a doctor’s supervision as they can have serious side


Some doctors advise beta-blockers and other drugs used in treatment of high

blood pressure and heart disease. Taking these drugs can make the individual

giddy and queasy.

Some drugs for treating mental depression can alleviate migraines. They work on

the serotonin levels in the brain and relieve migraines.

Some doctors give strong medicine used in treatment of seizures to their

migraine patients. These are quite effective in treating migraines but have many

ill effects like vomiting and hair loss.

Sometimes antihistamines can prevent migraines in children.

A few people have obtained relief from Botox treatment, but there has been no

conclusive study on this subject yet.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


The Complete Guide to Migraine Headaches by Alice Peart

Page 75 of 87

Once you get a migraine, there is no way to treat it other than to let it wear off.

However, an observant individual can prevent migraines when he notices the

danger signals or triggers.

Lead a disciplined life with proper exercise for a healthy mind and a nutritious

diet for a healthy body. Sleep well and at regular times. Try to rest for sometime during the day.

Many people develop their own techniques for battling their migraine. Some

people just sleep it off in a quiet room, while others take a cold shower.

You might want to try eating ice cream as it can trigger the hypothalamus to give

relief from the headache.

Disadvantages of some specific pain relievers include addiction. When taking

medicine, you must be careful not to get addicted to the drug. These drugs

include codeine, barbiturates and acetaminophen. They can also trigger

headaches if taken too often. Of all the drugs discussed above, triptans are the

most effective in migraine treatment. Several studies that compared the effects

of various drugs have indicated this.

The individual must consult a doctor and start treatment immediately. It is

necessary to consult a doctor as he can best judge your condition and prescribe

the proper combination of drugs. You need to follow up with the doctor to see the

effectiveness of the medicine. Some medicines or their dosage may need to be

altered because of your body’s particular response to them.

Moreover, a doctor is best qualified to check for complications and to warn you

against the ill effects of specific drugs.

Self–prescription is not advisable as it results in ineffective treatment and the

person’s condition may worsen. Sometimes, it can lead to an error of judgment

and cause death of the patient.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


The Complete Guide to Migraine Headaches by Alice Peart

Page 76 of 87

An intelligent individual must start his migraine headache treatment with a

doctor as it will make him comfortable and aid the recovery process. A faster

recovery means he can get back to his normal life and work. Therefore, proper

treatment increases the productivity of the individual and minimizes the loss of

work days due to absences caused by migraine attacks.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


The Complete Guide to Migraine Headaches by Alice Peart

Page 77 of 87

Part-VII: Coping with Migraine headaches

40. The Impact of Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches can cause immense suffering to the patient. He becomes

very helpless during the attack. The person develops sensitivity to light and feels nauseous. He experiences a recurring headache on one side of the head. The

migraine attack can last from a few minutes to a few days, during which they

may totally incapacitate the person.

There may be far-reaching impacts from migraine headaches. The individual

suffers pain during an attack. He has to take pain-relieving medicines so that the pain subsides and he gets some relief. However, long-term use of painkillers can

cause ulcers in the stomach and abdominal bleeding.

They can falls in to the habit of taking painkillers that become ineffective when

taken over a long-term. Taking these palliatives may only worsen the situation

as they induce pain rather than giving relief. Women with migraines who take

contraceptives are at risk of suffering a stroke.

The migraine headache affects the health and general well-being of the sufferer:

¾ He has to spend money on migraine-relief medications.

¾ He has to visit the doctor periodically and pay the consultation fees.

¾ He spends many days confined at home, as he is unable to work properly

with a migraine.

¾ His insurance providers bear the cost of the medication and

hospitalization, in extreme cases.

¾ The numbers of lost workdays result in an economic loss to the company

and his employers.

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¾ Several detailed studies conducted in the US estimate the loss of working

days by migraine sufferers runs into millions of dollars every year.

¾ A migraine sufferer who holds a demanding job will continue to attend

office because of the stigma attached to absenteeism on health grounds.

This aggravates his suffering and he may become irritable and suffer

mental stress.

¾ Continued absences can lead to loss of challenging assignments and

missing promotions. To tackle this problem the employers need to be

sympathetic to the needs of a migraine sufferer. They must permit a

flexible schedule for this individual when he suffers a migraine attack.

Migraine headaches upset the individual’s lifestyle:

¾ He cannot live comfortably and perform his routine activities during these


¾ He cannot enjoy holidays and time with his family and children.

¾ Severe migraine headaches can adversely affect a person’s relationships.

¾ This disruption causes depression and the individual has to alter his life.

Hence, the family should adopt an understanding approach during these

difficult times.

One person in the family, preferably their spouse, must be with the individual

during these difficult times to give him the proper medicine and to take him to

the doctor. The spouse may have to look after the children and the house along

with her work at these times. However, patience and understanding can relieve

some of the pressure. Friends and family workers must be compassionate during

these difficult times, to help the sufferer cope with migraine attacks.

Children of a migraine victim may be confused and upset when they see their

parent in such a helpless situation. The spouse must explain to the child that this Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


The Complete Guide to Migraine Headaches by Alice Peart

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is a passing phase and things will be all right soon enough. Migraine headaches

greatly affect the health and efficiency of an otherwise productive individual.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


The Complete Guide to Migraine Headaches by Alice Peart

Page 80 of 87

41. How to Cope with Migraine Headaches

A migraine headache can leave the patient devastated and weak for hours. It

interrupts the person’s normal life and makes him helpless as long as it lasts. It is important to recognize the signs of a migraine to cope with it well.

Many patients experience migraines when exposed to harsh sunlight. Others may

develop migraines due to consumption of colas, caffeine, red wine and other

foods that may trigger migraines. Patients experience a feeling of nausea,

flashing lights, troubled sleep and heaviness on one side of the head. Some

people experience a stomach pain during a migraine attack.

Unfortunately, there is no relief for migraines and prevention is the best remedy.

Try to look for signs of an impending attack and keep away from the triggers.

Observe your lifestyle carefully and establish connections between your food

habits and the migraine attacks. Keep away from foods that contain MSG and

nitric oxide as they bring about migraines.

Coping with Migraines may include sleeping off the headache in a dark, cool

room. Some patients experience relief with a bout of vomiting.

Show patience and sympathy to a migraine sufferer as it renders the patient

helpless. Repeated migraine attacks can cause depression in an individual.

It is good if the sufferer can discuss their feelings with a support group so that he can benefit from their counsel and share experiences for battling a migraine.

The best coping technique is to rest for some time daily and to consume healthy,

nutritious food. Drink a lot of water and have regular sleeping and eating habits

to avoid migraines.

This probably means adjusting your schedule, but migraine-free days make this

exercise worthwhile.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


The Complete Guide to Migraine Headaches by Alice Peart

Page 81 of 87

Try not to over-exert yourself physically and avoid all types of mental stress. In acute cases, consult your doctor for appropriate medication that can bring relief.

A good way to tackle migraines is to keep a daily diary that records all your

activities. You must record the frequency, intensity and symptoms in detail. This

will help develop a co-relation between your actions and your migraines and help

to reduce future episodes.

Coping with migraines in children is challenging since they may not be able to

share all their feelings. You must rule out other neurological problems by

consulting a doctor and getting the child to undergo the necessary medical tests.

You can give the child mild headache medication and let him rest until the attack

passes. Be attentive to the child and handle him with love until his suffering


Coping with migraine headaches may require that the individual change his food

habits and lifestyle. Someone that suffers migraines regularly must be alert for

symptoms of an attack and take the proper precautions to help avoid them.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


The Complete Guide to Migraine Headaches by Alice Peart

Page 82 of 87

42. Myths and Misinformation

about Migraine Headaches

There are various myths associated with migraines. Many sufferers do not seek

professional medical help because of these myths.

The most common myth of a migraine is that it is just a bad headache. In reality,

a migraine is actually a disease and your headache is just one of the symptoms

of this disease. A migraine occurs due to nerve inflammation around the brain.

The headache is due to the expansion of blood vessels supplying blood to brain.

A migraine occurs due to neurological disorder and not any psychological

disorder. A physiological trigger causes vasodilatation of cranial blood vessels.

This releases chemical substances or neurotransmitters, which is the main cause

for your migraine.

Many do not take adequate care of their migraine, dismissing it as just an

annoying problem which cannot lead to any severe outcomes. However, a

migraine is a life threatening disease. It can lead to severe conditions like

permanent visual loss, strokes, dental problems and even death.

Another myth is that any doctor can diagnose and detect your migraine problems

and offer remedies. However, in reality, a migraine is very often misdiagnosed.

Most doctors diagnose a migraine as a sinus-related headache and administer

relevant medications. You do not get any relief and continue to suffer from a


Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


The Complete Guide to Migraine Headaches by Alice Peart

Page 83 of 87

43. Common Mistakes in

Treating Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches do not occur in isolation. Such headaches have many

preludes like minor daily and less severe headaches. However, most doctors do

not consider these preludes and offer treatment only for severe migraine

headaches. This is a common mistake in migraine treatment.

Many times, patients do not realize they have migraine headaches. Physicians

prescribe different OTC and sinus medications and antibiotics. Patients are not

clear in expressing their discomfort while physicians do not give enough

necessary importance to the prevalent symptoms.

Many migraine sufferers do not maintain any regular diary detailing the time,

occurrence, severity and frequency of their migraine attacks. Despite various

educational efforts, many do not record symptoms and effects of a migraine

pain. Hence, they continue to suffer.

Many physicians do not offer migraine-specific therapy. Although these therapies

are usually considered safe for migraine patients, physicians are not very


Statistically, heart attacks are a common occurrence for people between 55 and

65 years. Triptans, used in migraine therapy, can cause heart attacks. Therefore,

fear of lawsuits prevents many physicians from prescribing such migraine


Most migraine sufferers refrain from using migraine-preventive therapy.

Preventative therapy needs close and regulated monitoring. Prolonged use of

such medications may cause various side-effects. Both physicians and patients

have an equal responsibility to maintain a record or diary to note effectiveness of such therapy.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


The Complete Guide to Migraine Headaches by Alice Peart

Page 84 of 87

Physicians may conduct many detailed and unwanted diagnostic tests like EEG,

MRI imaging, CT scan and others on patients with infrequent migraine symptoms

and headaches.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


The Complete Guide to Migraine Headaches by Alice Peart

Page 85 of 87

44. When to Seek Professional Help

Headaches can cause havoc with your life. Many postpone their visit to the

physician by adopting self-care measures. They delay the proper diagnosis of the

cause of their headaches, and seeking remedial measures.

Migraines are persistent ailments. You need proper diagnosis and suitable

treatment for relief from such pain. Many try over-the-counter medications like

naproxen sodium, ibuprofen or aspirin for their headaches. However, if these do

not offer relief within a day or two, consult your physician immediately.

Do not give aspirin to children below sixteen years old as it could cause greater

problems including, possibly, a rare and fatal disease, Reye's syndrome.

If you suffer from regular headaches, maintain a diary to note their time, place,

frequency, intensity, and other details of occurrence. This record helps your

doctor diagnose and provide the correct treatment for your headache.

Sudden symptoms like a worsening headache after a head injury, a new type of

headache, a change in your usual headache patterns, any headache

accompanied by stiff neck, numbness, double vision, seizures, fever, weakness,

mental confusion or trouble speaking need immediate medical attention.

Headaches with rashes, or after a recent sore throat or any respiratory infection

also need prompt professional help.

Headaches may not always be a migraine or a serious condition but they are a

common indicator of impending diseases and disorders. Therefore, seeking

professional help immediately is essential.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


The Complete Guide to Migraine Headaches by Alice Peart

Page 86 of 87

45. How Do I Choose a Doctor for Headache Care?

Headaches occurring with a regular schedule and worsening over time need

immediate medical attention. If the usual over-the-counter medications do not

yield any relief within a day or so, consult your primary physician. Tell your

symptoms and problems to your physician.

Additionally, you could inquire with your physician about his or her exposure to

different types of headaches and their respective treatments. Get to know an

approximate time for expecting results of your headache medications and if there

is any need for visiting any headache-care specialist.

Normally, a physician needs to discuss your medical history, your lifestyle

patterns and other possible causes (like diabetes or allergies) as possible triggers of your headache.

A detailed study of your body constitution is also necessary. If your primary

physician prescribes headache remedies without going into details, it is best to

consult a headache specialist.

A few more additional qualifications are also necessary for choosing your

headache-care specialist. The physician needs to have a board certification with

eligibility of a primary medical specialty and adequate experience in headache

care. The physician should have experience in clinical practice, diagnosis, and

headache care.

Research, teaching or writing expertise is also good. The physician could have a

membership in the National Headache Foundation and/or the American

Association for the Study of Headache signifying their special interest and

knowledge of headache relief.

Their attendance at Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses on headaches is

another qualification for choosing the doctor for your headache relief.

Copyright © 2006 Alice Peart


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