I’ve had migraines for as long as I can remember. When I was a child I called it being “dizzy” or motion sickness. As I grew into adulthood I started noticing my triggers, strong smells, bright lights, not eating regularly and not enough sleep. When my migraines became chronic and started seriously impacting my work and family life, I sought medical treatment. The medication worked for a while but in the end I needed more and more medication to get help & the side effects ultimately cost me my job. Lifestyle change has helped me cut the number of migraines I get and helped me stop many of them before they take hold.
I avoid strong smells. I don’t wear perfume, use air freshener or us strong-smelling cleansers. I can feel certain smells in my head and it hurts. I can avoid these smells at home, but outside the home I am careful. Many people wear perfume or cologne, and use air fresheners. I’ve gotten migraines by riding in a car with someone wearing perfume, or being in a meeting room with air freshener.
I’m sensitive to bright lights, flashing lights and direct sunlight. Particularly at night when driving. The lights on other vehicles are so bright I often wear my sunglasses. Flashing lights from emergency vehicles, turn signals, Christmas lights and signs are a problem. I need to turn my head and close my eyes. Hard to do while driving. I avoid spending much time in the direct sunlight. I am fair-skinned and burn easily, but the sun also triggers my migraines.
Not eating regularly is also a trigger. I get irritable, nauseous, and light-headed if I go very long without food. I try to make sure I have food available when I travel, even if it’s just around town. I don’t have many food triggers, but drinking too much caffeine or eating too much junk food will trigger a migraine.
I need to sleep. I’m not someone who gets by on 4-5 hours of sleep a night. I need a good 8 hours or more. During some of my worst migraine episodes, I felt like I could sleep for a couple of years before I felt rested. When I have migraines I’m absolutely exhausted afterwards. Sleep is healing for me. I need it.
I’ve made some serious lifestyle changes to help prevent my migraines. I no longer work outside the home like I did for so many years. Being able to stay at home with my kids and limit my obligations outside the home has helped cut the stress in my life. I’m just not always dependable. When I have a migraine, I don’t think clearly and I’m totally preoccupied by the pain.
I struggle to exercise and meditate regularly. When I am able to exercise and meditate daily, I notice a positive change. It relieves stress, helps me sleep, makes me want to eat better and just plain feels good. It need to find more ways to motivate myself to get on the elliptical.
When a migraine starts, I’ve had success taking an over the counter pain reliever, putting an ice pack on my neck and upper shoulders, and lying down in a dark, cool, quite room. It doesn’t’ always stop the migraine, but sometimes it does. I don’t want to ever be on all the medication I was in the past. I’m sticking with my prevention methods.