If you’re one of the estimated 40 million Americans who suffer from migraine headaches, you’re all too aware of the impact they have on your quality of life. From missing work or school to skipping social and physical activities, migraine sufferers miss out because of the symptoms they endure. At High Rock Internal Medicine, our specialists offer migraine and headache relief options in Lexington, North Carolina.
Headache hygiene 101: Know your migraine triggers
The American Migraine Foundation defines “headache hygiene” as a set of lifestyle modifications and tips to help avoid triggers and lower the frequency and intensity of a migraine attack. The first step in lowering your risk of migraines and managing the symptoms is to identify your personal triggers.
Some of the most common migraine triggers include:
- Food and drinks (alcohol, highly processed foods, sugar)
- Physical exertion
- Eye strain
- Poor sleep/exhaustion
- Weather (such as changes in weather or altitude)
Many migraine sufferers experience a combination of triggers. Migraines can also be hereditary and run in families, so if you have a parent or family member that suffers from migraines, you’re at a higher risk of developing them as well.
Tips for managing and lowering your migraine headache risks
Since many of the known migraine triggers are related to factors like diet and lifestyle habits, there are a number of proactive steps you can take to lower your risk.
Keep a headache journal
You may not necessarily be able to predict or prevent every headache, but keeping a journal of your symptoms, diet, environment, and other lifestyle factors before the onset of each migraine can help you identify your triggers, and see patterns that you might otherwise miss.
Whether your trigger is drinking too much coffee (or too little), eating too many slices of pepperoni pizza too many days in a row, not getting enough sleep, or environmental factors like a sudden change in the barometric pressure, a headache journal will help you figure out what adjustments to make.
Get enough sleep
The United States is a sleep-deprived nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep. In addition to being a potential migraine trigger, sleep deprivation can lead to a number of additional health risks, from cognitive issues to diabetes and heart disease.
Getting the recommended 7-8 hours per night can be difficult for many busy adults, but adopting a sleep hygiene routine can help:
- Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
- Don’t keep your phone, computer, or other electronic devices by your bed
- Regulate your bedroom temperature
- Avoid caffeine, large meals, and alcohol before bed
Adopt a diet that works for you
Try to avoid overly processed foods, and make sure to eat regular, balanced meals throughout the day. Skipping meals can also be a migraine trigger in some cases.
Keep your stress in check
Everyone experiences bouts of stress from time to time. But like sleep deprivation, too much stress for too long not only puts you at risk for headaches, but it also increases your risk of other serious health problems as well.
In addition to releasing endorphins, the body’s “natural pain killer,” getting adequate exercise can mitigate many of the other migraine triggers like stress and sleep problems. The trick is to find the right activity and level of intensity that will help you stay fit, without triggering your headaches.
For more information about prevention and treatment options for migraine headaches, contact High Rock Internal Medicine by calling the office directly, sending the team a message here on their website, or requesting an appointment online.