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When you live with chronic migraine and get a migraine once a week you get pretty good at identifying your triggers to prevent attacks. People with chronic migraine may experience debilitating attacks on a regular basis but not everyone who has experienced a migraine will get them weekly. Some people only get them during certain seasons or if you are a woman migraine may creep up on you during your period. If you only experience migraine once a month it may not be often enough that your doctor will feel comfortable prescribing you a preventative but it still can be hard to manage when you don’t know the first place to start. What can you do to get ahead of pain if you only experience migraine attacks on holidays or while on your period? I experience a migraine on a regular basis but sometimes it can be worse during the week of my period and know first hand that migraine can take you out for the count whether you get them once a year or once a day! If you struggle with migraine during certain certain seasons or while on your period here are some tips on how to get ahead of pain and get relief.
Consider asking your doctor about supplements– Some migraineurs swear my supplements because sometimes migraine attacks are triggered because your body is not getting enough of a certain type of nutrient which can trigger attacks. I am not going to recommend that you start taking a bunch of random supplements to manage migraine pain and you should always talk to your doctor if you think your lacking in something because not all supplements are going to be created equal and safe for everyone. Some people with migraine take magnesium supplements because sometimes people with migraine disorders have lower magnesium levels than people without them but I would not advise that everyone start popping magnesium pills especially if you taking medication because it can interfere with some medications. You will never find me taking magnesium pills because high magnesium levels can be a concern when you are on Renacidin which is the medication I need to prevent bladder stones. Supplements can help manage migraine but you need to know what supplements your body is lacking and you can find that out by asking your doctor because if you start taking everything in your medicine cabinet you may be taking vitamins that aren’t necessary or even harmful. I take a multivitamin to improve my energy levels and a probiotic for gut health but that is about it and everything else I get from food.
Try Execedrin and peppermint oil- I have said before that you should never tell a chronic migraineur if they have tried Excedrin because most likely you have tried and it doesn’t work. I would never start suggesting to everyone experiencing a migraine if they have tried Excedrin because most people would roll their eyes at me but if it’s your first migraine and you don’t get them often I would suggest that. Preventatives can change your life but it’s hard on your body and if at all possible you want to avoid needing them. I am not saying that Excedrin is going to work for you because it may not but you won’t know that until you try it. Peppermint oil on a cold compress can also sometimes help with pain because peppermint oil provides a cooling effect which can help some people get relief.
Drink some water- When you tell someone with chronic migraine that is experiencing an attack to drink more water there is a hundred percent chance they are rolling their eyes at you because the first thing I do when I start feeling pain is I start chugging water. I know water is important for migraine prevention but for people who only experience pain occasionally, it might not be as automatic for you. The biggest mistake I see people make that is triggering migraine attacks is thinking that those six cups of coffee count towards your water consumption because technically there is water in coffee! Coffee is not the same as pure water and if a majority of your beverages are caffeinated you may be dehydrated and that is probably why you are experiencing more headaches.
Reduce or increase your caffeine intake- I don’t know when people started believing that caffeine was a miracle remedy for migraine pain because it’s not true and the worst thing you can say to someone struggling with migraine pain is to start drinking pots of coffee. Caffeine gives some people relief but it’s not a miracle cure and for some people, caffeine makes their pain worse. Please stop telling people that are experiencing a migraine to drink more coffee because that might be the problem and the solution to getting relief is to reduce your caffeine. If you are struggling with migraine pain take note of how caffeine makes you feel and if you are noticing that worsens your pain start drinking less because if you are consuming all this caffeine when you shouldn’t be you’ll never have less pain.
Sit in a dark room or wear sunglasses- If you have ever seen someone wear sunglasses indoors, you may wonder why someone would be wearing sunglasses in a place that doesn’t really need it. Some people that are experiencing a migraine do not experience light sensitivity but about eighty percent of people who are going through an attack have reported extreme light sensitivity so if you see someone wearing sunglasses at the most random times it’s probably the result of a migraine. I never used to be sensitive to light until I started experiencing migraine and now I am extremely sensitive to it that I feel like the sun can sometimes be trigger. Light sensitivity is common before migraine strikes and it’s hard to do things when the light on your computer screen is bothering your eyes but a way you can deal with that is to wear sunglasses or sit in a dark room until your pain passes. I am usually at home when migraine strikes and can turn off all my lights but I realize that not everyone has the ability to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon because sometimes migraine strikes at work and that is when you would whip out those sunglasses!
Track it- My period lasts a full seven days but I don’t have a crazy amount of pain all week and it’s usually just for the first two and the other five are just annoyances. As a disabled person I have a lot of problems when I get my period but the biggest one is I can’t easily have bowel movements because it puts enough pressure on my bowels making it so it’s almost impossible to go for the first two days and if I don’t time it right I can have a situation. I can’t fully control every challenge I have on my period and I only do it to the best of my ability because some things you don’t have control over. My FitBit has a menstrual calendar which allows me to track all of my periods so I have an idea of when the next one will be so can prepare myself for it. I used to never track my period and let it come whenever but stopped doing that because I realized that it’s much easier to be ahead of the pain than to wing it.
Get your electrolytes in- People that live with migraine or headache disorder often need more water and salt than those who don’t struggle with pain. Many migraineurs swear by electrolytes because it helps balance the amount of water and salt you have in your body which is important for preventing attacks and getting dehydrated. When you don’t have enough electrolytes in your body you won’t retain enough water and as a result, you’ll dehydrate yourself which can trigger migraine attacks. There are tons of things with electrolytes and if you drink tons of water you may not need to seek out other products with electrolytes but sometimes I am not the best at drinking my water so I drink Gatorade almost every single day to keep myself hydrated because it’s almost too easy to get dehydrated when you live with pain. A lot of people trigger a migraine because they are dehydrated but if you were consuming a little more electrolytes that wouldn’t happen!
Limit your alcohol- I don’t drink alcohol because I experience migraine often and have found that alcohol triggers my pain but not all migraineurs are going to be triggered by alcohol. I am not going to tell you that you need to totally give up alcohol if you only experience migraine once a month because that would be silly but you may want to limit it during the week of your period for less pain. Alcohol is a trigger for many because it dehydrates you and as much as you may want that Chardonnay it may not be the best choice for people struggling with pain.
Get some zzz’s –A migraine sometimes can be triggered when you are sleep deprived and aren’t getting giving your body the sleep it needs to function optimally. If you can get some zzz’s and maybe you will find that your migraine pain will be gone when you wake up because sometimes it’s quite literally that simple!
During your period it is common to struggle with migraine attacks when you don’t struggle with it any other time because your hormones are out of whack. Chronic migraine is more frustrating because you struggle with pain more often so if you only have to deal with an occasional migraine consider yourself lucky! Migraine pain on your period is not treated any differently than if you were to get one on a random Tuesday because you treat them all in a similar way but the reason for getting it may be a little different. If you only experience pain once a month and can kind of function, you may not need to go to your doctor to get a preventative but if it’s controlling your life for half the month you may want to talk with your doctor about dietary changes or medication. I hope this helped you better control your migraine pain during certain seasons or while on your period but please remember that although some of these things may help you manage pain they are not cures because migraine has no cure! If you have any other tips for managing migraine while on your period please comment below.