According to The Migraine Action Association, migraines are the most common neurological condition in the world. Migraines are far more severe than typical tension headaches, and are characterized by recurrent, throbbing pain that starts on one side of the head. They are often accompanied by nausea and blurred vision and can last anywhere from several hours to several days. By definition, a constant (chronic) migraine must occur 15 days or more. There is no cure for constant migraines, but there are several things to do that can help ease migraine symptoms.
Migraines can be triggered by a number of things, such as excessive stress, poor diet, hormone fluctuations, bright lights, strong smells, and an inactive lifestyle. Symptoms of constant migraines can include blurred vision, dizziness, intense pain, sensitivity to light and loud noises, nausea, and fatigue.
What to Do
Many people experience an "aura" stage before a migraine sets in, which involves dizziness and black spots or zigzag lights obscuring vision. These tips are most effective when applied before or at the beginning of the aura phase.
Over the counter painkillers, like paracetamol, ibuprofen, and aspirin can be helpful in easing the pain of migraines. If these medications do not provide relief, talk to a doctor about prescribing something stronger. It is helpful to take the drugs right when you feel migraine symptoms coming on, as they take a while to act.
Making sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day can help boost energy and reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches. Keeping a water bottle around will help remind you to drink more and often.
Taking a few minutes to lay down in a cool, dark, and quiet room can help ease migraine symptoms. Try putting a damp cloth or ice pack on your forehead or back of your neck to lessen the pain.
Herbal remedies are an alternative to over the counter or prescription medication for treating migraines. Chamomile, valerian, and skull cap are anti-inflammatory herbs that can help relieve migraine pain. They are typically available as supplements or as tea.
Sometimes, getting some fresh air can be very beneficial for easing headaches. If it is sunny outside, make sure to wear a hat and sunglasses, as the bright light may aggravate migraine symptoms.
Migraines affect approximately 36 million Americans on a daily basis. Around two-thirds of migraines occur in women. Constant migraines can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days and can be incapacitating. It is important to be aware of the common migraine triggers to avoid them. These treatment methods can be especially helpful when used in combination. If migraines worsen or persist, it is best to visit with a doctor.
- National Health Service UK. (2014). Headaches and migraines. Retrieved October 28, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Pain/Pages/Headachesandmigraines.aspx
- National Health Service UK. (2014). Migraines - Causes. Retrieved October 28, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/migraine/pages/causes.aspx
- National Health Service UK. (2014). Migraine - Treatment. Retrieved October 28, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Migraine/Pages/Treatment.aspx
- National Institutes of Health. (2013). Managing migraines at home. Retrieved October 28, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000420.htm