I have a condition called Hydrocephalus which means I will get more headaches and migraines than most people. If you have never heard of Hydrocephalus is it’s a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid also called CSF, around the brain and the purpose of it is to protect the brain and spinal cord Sometimes when there is too much it puts pressure on the brain and it needs to be removed or it can be dangerous and life threatening . How is this condition treated? The most common treatment for Hydrocephalus is to insert a tube called a shunt, to drain excess fluid from the head to another place where the body can remove it naturally. A shunt will save your life if you have Hydrocephalus but the most frustrating thing that you still have to accept and live with is that you will still get frequent headaches and migraines because of this condition. There isn’t a cure for this except staying on top of your pain so in this post I am going to talk about how I keep mine under control with this frustrating condition.
Stay Hydrated- If you get dehydrated you will probably get a headache. How do you avoid this problem? Make sure you drink enough water! Drinking soda is not the same thing as drinking water so if you drink a lot of soda but no water and get a lot of headaches, that could be the reason for your headaches. If you don’t drink water because you want something that is flavored, you could either buy flavored water or add some fruit to your water to give it some flavor.
Essential Oils- Strong scents trigger a migraine attack for me so I avoid perfumes and strong scent products. Essential oils are a good alternative because it can be used as a perfume if you would like and has more health benefits but is only as strong as you want to make it. Some essential oils that may help relieve pain are peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, and rosemary that could help your headaches. Depending on what type of headache you have will determine what kind of essential oil will work best for you. Some people apply essential oils directly on their skin but I personally don’t do that because I have really sensenstive skin and if you are not careful it can be very toxic and dangerous.
Manage your Stress- Do you go to work and immediately get a headache but then it goes away as soon as you leave work. You probably have a stress headache the only way to get rid of it is to de-stress. Go get a massage or do something else that you would enjoy to make you forget about whatever it is that is stressing you out. If your job is making your stressed to the point that it is putting stress on your body you either need to talk to your boss about it or find a new job.
Have Good Nutrition- If you have a headache or migraine disorder you want to pay very close attention to the foods you eat and don’t skip meals! I can’t tell you how many people I have talked to who suffer with headaches or migraines and skip meals and then wonder why they have pain that came out of nowhere! The reason you have pain is because you aren’t on a regular eating schedule and let your blood sugar get too low which will trigger a headache or worse a migraine! Some foods may also trigger migraines or headaches so it can good to keep a journal and document how foods make you feel so you know what to avoid. Sugar usually is not a migraineur’s best friend because it causes inflammation which spikes your blood sugar triggering headaches so if you are struggling with more pain do your best to cut as much sugar from your diet as you can!
Have A Regular Sleep Schedule– Sometimes when you have frequent headaches and migraines it can be difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep but establishing a regular sleeping pattern will help you prevent more pain. You have no control over whether you will wake up five times in the middle of the night because of pain so try and go to bed around the same time every night so you get the sleep you need to prevent headaches or migraines.
Don’t forget to take your medication- If you get frequent headaches or migraines you probably are taking medication to prevent them. Don’t forget to take these medications because even missing just one dose can significantly raise your chances of getting a horrible migraine. If forgetting medication is a problem for you then get a pillbox or set an alarm on your phone to help remind you because you don’t want pain to be your reminder. After pain strikes the damage has already been done and it’s too late to do anything about it.
See a neurologist– Not everyone with Hydrocephalus will need to see a neurologist for headaches or migraines because some people may only get them occasionally, If your headaches or migraines have been more frequent you may want to explore that option for more pain-free days. I didn’t start getting frequent headaches and migraines until a few years ago but the medication my neurologist put me on to control my pains has been a lifesaver for me so I can do more. There is no shame if you need medication to control pain because sometimes you do!
Headaches and migraines and be difficult to treat for anyone but when you have Hydrocephalus it is a little bit different and for some people can be a little bit more challenging because what may work for most migraineurs might not work for people with Hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus affects about eighty percent of people with Spina Bifida but it also affects those who do not have Spina Bifida and it’s important you understand that that is a chronic problem so if you are struggling you’re not alone. People with Hydrocephalus will still have bad days just like people with other headache or migraine disorders it just may feel different for us so whatever pain you are feeling it’s important you slow down to keep it from getting worse. Do you have a headache or migraine disorder? How do you manage your pain?