Friday, 9 November 2012

Migraine( Headache)


I spent the last three day in bed with a migraine. Each time I get an attack it feels like they are getting worse. For those who do not get migraines hearing a person say he or she has a headache might sound like a very good excuse for not going to work, but boy o boy migraines are debilitating. When I was young some people around me used to think I was faking it. It takes another migraine sufferer to know the kind of torture migraines can be. I am one of those people who might stop having migraines maybe after menopause. The cause of migraine is unknown but there is evidence that suggests that it is caused by a genetically transmitted disturbance of the blood flow to the brain and the scalp. The symptoms may vary in frequency and intensity from person to person. The headaches may be lateralised or generalized, dull or throbbing, and may be associated with loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and increased sensitivity to light and sound.
Sometimes patients see flashing lights or shimmering zig-zag lines around an area of lost vision, from one or both eyes. Pins and needles in the hands and difficulty of speech may also occur.


Headaches are four times more prevalent in women and often linked to hormonal fluctuations. The frequency and severity of headaches declines with advancing years. Migraines are more common in adult women than in men, often occurring just before or during menstrual periods and usually waning after menopause. A migraine sufferer usually has his or her first attack between the ages of 19 and 30 years. People with primary headache, such as tension-type, migraine or cluster headache will usually have a normal physical examination. Keeping a headache diary may help to identify headache triggers, and is also useful for evaluating the effectiveness of treatment. Symptoms of a migraine include intense, throbbing pain in the forehead, temple, ear, jaw or even around the eye. It usually starts on one side of the head, but eventually spreads to the other side. It is sometimes preceded by an aura. The migraine is often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and visual disturbances. Each instance lasts two to 72 hours – averaging 12 to 18 hours – and may be incapacitating enough to disrupt daily activities.

Step 1: Understanding the relationship between migraine and food
The cause of migraine is unknown but there is evidence that suggests that it is caused by a genetically transmitted disturbance of the blood flow to the brain and the scalp.
Certain trigger factors have been identified and include the following:
  • Certain foods, especially coffee, chocolate, nuts, dairy products, red wine, preservatives in cured or processed meat, biltong, chocolate, citrus fruits and aged cheeses, fried foods, shellfish, spicy foods, peanuts and yeast.
  • Emotional and physical stress. This includes anger, anxiety, depression, and excitement. Migraine headaches often start during the "let-down" period after a stressful time, such as a weekend or vacation.
  • Lack or excess of sleep.
  • Missed meals or fasting.
  • Loud noises.
  • Glaring or flickering lights (water reflections, television, rave parties).
  • Alcohol.
  • Oral contraceptives.
  • Menstruation.
  • Weather fluctuations – particularly from dry to humid conditions and bright overcast days.
  • Changes in temperature – such as when taking a hot bath.
  • Allergies – watch out for preservative allergies, and food allergies.
  • Smoking cigarettes.
Step 2: Adopting new healthy habits:
  • Know your migraine triggers and limit your exposure when and if possible
  • Eat correctly to avoid migraine
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Exercise three to four times weekly
  • Learn to relax
Step 3: The basic dietary guidelines to avoid migraine
  • 1. Eat a balanced diet and five smaller meals per day instead of two to three big ones
  • 2. Keep a food/drink diary to help you figure out if you are sensitive or allergic to certain foods, drinks or food additives
  • 3. In the aftermath of a migraine, simple, light, non-fatty food (such as fresh fruit) and plenty of water help you to recover more rapidly
  • 1. Avoid foods rich in tyramine:
    • Cheeses, especially cheddar
    • Red wines
    • Biltong
    • Avocado and bananas
  • 2. Avoid foods with Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and other preservatives and colourants like processed meats
  • 3. Avoid coffee, chocolate and lemon meringue pie
  • 4. Avoid nuts
  • 5. Avoid diary products
  • 6. Avoid yeast products

It is difficult to nail exactly how to avoid migraines and certain things work differently for different people. Remember do not skip meals as low sugar makes it worse.

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