How To Tell If It Is A Migraine Headache & New Remedies To Treat Them


Not all headaches are the same! How to know if your headache is a migraine and new ways to cure them. (TheHealthMinded.com) #health

Of all the things I could have done that evening, I actually chose to attend a lecture on migraines. An unusual choice to spend my evening, perhaps. But, if you have ever experienced a migraine (and read on to make sure that is what it really is), you would understand why I would spend my time doing so. Most migraine suffers would want to do anything, and I mean anything, to exit it from your day (or days as they can last for days!). Not only do I suffer an occasional one (and they last for days), but I have people in my life that suffer rather frequently from them.  So, a lecture on migraines? You bet!

I primarily wanted to attend to see if there was any new research on methods to help.  I discovered there is. So, please, if you or someone you care about deals with migraine headaches and the debilitating effect they can have on your life, please read on.




Is This Really A Migraine Headache or Something Else?

The term migraine can be thrown around loosely to describe a bad headache, but there are particular characteristics that distinguish a migraine from other types of headaches. The International Headache Society (yes, it actually exists!) lists these criteria for your headaches to be considered a migraine:
  1. You have had at least five headaches.
  2. The headaches last greater than four hours.
  3. The head pain is accompanied by nausea/vomiting or photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  4. Each of the headaches has at least two of the following characteristics:
  • one-sided
  • pulsating
  • moderate to severe in pain
  • aggravated by physical exertion

And as if those symptoms were not enough, migraine headaches can also have phases like the ones described below. Not everyone experiences them but some of these symptoms like in the prodrome phase, or preheadache, can warn you a migraine is in the making and you may be able to stop it.

Here are the four potential phases of a migraine attack and a bit about each phase:


1.  The prodrome phase, or preheadache phase, may be experienced hours or even days before a migraine attack warning that a migraine is imminent. Not everyone experiences them but it could be helpful to familiarize yourself with these symptoms in case you do recognize a pattern:

  • difficulty concentrating, reading or speaking 
  • depression
  • digestive issues
  • fatigue
  • food cravings
  • increased thirst
  • increased urination
  • nausea
  • sensitivity to light and sound
  • sleep issues
  • stiff neck

2.  The visual distortions of the possible aura phase vary and again, not everyone experiences them. Here are some of the possible symptoms:

  • flashing lights or spots
  • wavy lines 
  • partial loss of sight
  • blurry vision or even total blindness in one eye
  • dizziness
  • motor weakness
  • intense hiccups
  • neck pain

3.  The headache phase is pretty self-explanatory - painful! It's effects are not limited to the head only, but can affect the whole body. Symptoms include these below:

  • headache pain on one side that can shift from side to side or both sides
  • pain worse with physical exertion
  • sensitivity to light and noise
  • pain in the areas of the eyes, sinuses, and jaw
  • lasts from 1-72 hours. 
  • neck pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • digestive issues
  • nasal congestion and/or runny nose
  • depression, anxiety
  • dizziness
  • confusion

4.  You may think this ordeal is over, but wait! There is more. Once the headache phase is over, symptoms can still remain. The symptoms of the postdrome phase may include:

  • lowered mood 
  • fatigue
  • poor concentration and comprehension



What Can Trigger a Migraine?

The list of possible ways a migraine can be set off is long but some migraine suffers can establish their own triggers like these that can bring on a migraine. Perhaps one or two of these causes yours or maybe there is one on the list that you have not thought of:
  • odors
  • sunlight
  • erratic sleep
  • stress
  • hormonal fluctuations
  • overuse of headache medications 
  • certain weather conditions
  • particular foods like chocolate, MSG, aged cheese, smoked meats, caffeine, aspartame, alcohol, sulfates in wine and dark vinegar, citrus
  • infections with Lyme or Epstein Barr Virus
  • sleep apnea
  • TMJ
  • environmental exposure to molds
  • dehydration


Why your migraine headache meds may stop working and what you can do about it. New cures for migraines. (TheHealthMinded.com) #health


Why Relying on Medications Is Not A Good Solution For Migraines 

There are plenty of over the counter and prescription drugs to help with migraine pain and they can work miracles; however, overuse of them (more than twice a month) can actually cause future migraines, rebound migraines or, worse, the drugs can stop working.  So, if you a frequent sufferer and don't like to take prescriptions like me, there are some non-drug therapies that can help to avoid one in the first place:

  • avoiding your triggers
  • acupuncture
  • massage
  • yoga
  • meditation




Some New Therapies To Help With Migraine Pain

One of the primary reasons I attended the lecture was to hear about more new therapies that could help.  I heard about four that may be of interest to you.  But, please, always speak about this and any medications, supplements with your doctor first to see what is right for you.


1.  A new headband. Last year the FDA approved the Cephaly headband for those who do not want to use medications or the medications are not longer working.  Cephaly treats migraine pain with neurostimulation addressing pain signals from the nerve centre where migraine headaches start. Here is a link with more information as well as a review of the device, too


2.   Ditch the carbs.  A Ketogenic diet or eating foods with low carbohydrates and higher fats have shown a potential aide to migraines.  Here is more information on that that as well as here, too, that you may want to pursue. A hypothesis is the ketone produced on a ketogenic diet might effectively help regulate glutamate which can be involved with migraines.


3.  The right touch. Cranial therapy is based on therapeutic touch to help regulate the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and manipulate the joints of the cranium or skull, which can be affective in the treatment of migraines. To do this, a practitioner will apply light touches to a patient's skull, face, spine and pelvis. Here is a link and here too with a bit more about it and that may help you find a practitioner in your area. Some call this quackery, but I know someone who this absolutely cured him of his intense period of severe, daily headaches.

4.  Optimal levels of minerals and vitamins.  Magnesium, riboflavin (vitamin B-2), and coenzyme Q10 all have been studied to show some potential benefit to migraine sufferers.  Here is lots more information on that to see if you might want to consider that approach.



Do you or anyone you know suffer from migraines? Have you discovered anything that helps? Please share in the comments!

Need a bit more?

  • Massage can be a great aide to avoid migraines. 
  • Lack of sleep can be a migraine trigger. Here in this study telling you just how much you need. 

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Lecture at The Kaplan Center
This post was featured on the Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Party Hop.
This post was featured on Bajun Texan.




14 comments:

  1. LOL, seriously?! I was JUST working on a blog post about headaches! Love the information you posted my friend, I absolutely love your topics (obviously! haha!) - www.domesticgeekgirl.com

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  2. Hmmm! Great minds think alike? Ha! Hope you don't suffer from them but can't wait to read your post!

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  3. Luckily I don't suffer from migraines. But my brother does and he suffers really badly.

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    1. Please pass the information on to him, Dannii. Perhaps it may help him. I am so sorry to hear he suffers so.

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  4. I have dealt with migraines for many years... I find they lessen with the food that I eat... when I am eating very healthy, I have very few... I have had some so debilitating that I was not able to deal with a minor sliver of light... Thankfully most of mine are not that hard to deal with... it is awful when they are though... I think meditating is always good... xox

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    1. Thanks for jumping in with your experience, Launna. Perhaps when your diet is good, your magnesium and other mineral levels are up and help keep them away. The light is awful when it is happening, I know!

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  5. My mom suffers from migraines. I'll be forwarding this on to her. I came here through urbannaturale. Thanks for the post!

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    1. Please do pass it on. I hope your mom gets some relief! Thanks for coming by.

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  6. I found this really interesting, Lori. I've only ever had a couple of migraines in my life, with the weird 'aura' thing and sickness, but it's very debilitating. I still have no idea what caused them. Hopefully I won't get another one any time soon, but I'll definitely keep this post in mind for when I next meet a migraine sufferer!

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    1. I can sympathize, Helen, but I have never experienced the aura phase. I think that would be so scary. I hope you never experience that again, and please do share this with anyone you know that suffers. Some of the new remedies could help.

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  7. Oh I am sending this link to my sister who suffers badly with migraines. Great advice. Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

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    1. I do hope it helps her! They are miserable to say the least. Best of luck to your sister and thanks for sharing it.

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  8. Hello.
    It’s really great post ,,,for the natural ways to migraine treatments you can visit here Migraine Headache Treatments

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