8 migraine facts and fictions

If you’ve ever suffered from a migraine, you know it’s so much more than a mere headache. Symptoms include throbbing pain, nausea, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound, and migraines can last from four hours to three days (although some can drag on longer). And the mysterious nature of migraines — they can strike frequently and without warning — take a heavy toll on your emotional wellbeing.

The first step in living well with migraines, experts say, is to arm yourself with the latest information. Being in-the-know gives you the power to minimize the frequency and severity of your headaches. To start you off, here are eight facts and fictions about migraines . Do you know which statements are true and false?

Migraines Usually Involve Pain on One Side of the Head


Researchers say that in 60 per cent of cases, migraines feature pain on just one side of the head. Still, some migraine sufferers, an estimated 40 per cent, experience pain on both sides.

Migraine pain generally throbs or pulses. Sufferers often feel the pain behind their eyes, ears, or at their temples, although any part of the head can be involved.

Keeping track of the location of the pain can help you and your health care practitioner choose the right treatments.

Most “Migraines” Are Actually Sinus Headaches


True sinus headaches are relatively rare and almost always accompany a sinus infection.

It can be easy to confuse the two headache types because migraines sometimes cause sinus symptoms, such as pain high in the cheeks and a stuffy or runny nose. But if those symptoms come with moderate to severe pain, nausea, and/or sensitivity to light, you probably have a migraine.

It’s important to know which type of headache you have to get the right treatment.

Women Are More Likely than Men to Suffer from Migraines


The Society for Women’s Health Research reports that three out of four migraine sufferers are women. Researchers suspect fluctuating estrogen levels play a role. Some data show that more than half of migraines in women occur right before, during, or after a woman has her period. It can help to track your cycle and avoid migraine triggers around this time.

Interestingly, boys appear to be more likely than girls to suffer migraines in childhood, but they switch places at puberty.

Extra Sleep Can Prevent a Migraine


Although lack of sleep is a common migraine culprit, too much sleep can also bring on a headache. Avoid oversleeping; aim to get six to eight hours a night. Some headache experts also advise migraine sufferers to go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day.


Cheese Is a Common Migraine Trigger


Aged cheeses, including parmesan, cheddar, blue cheese, and feta, contain tyramine, a migraine-causing chemical. Tyramine is also found in alcoholic drinks (especially red wine), processed meats such as pepperoni, sourdough bread, and soy sauce.

You might also reduce migraine severity and frequency by reducing your intake of other trigger foods, including chocolate, citrus fruits, avocados, bananas, and caffeinated drinks. Some researchers believe that diet may be responsible for up to 30 per cent of migraine headaches.

Snacking Between Meals Can Prevent Migraines


Going for more than a few hours without eating causes your blood sugar to drop. This causes brain changes that trigger migraines.

Never skip meals, and keep wholesome snacks on hand to nibble between meals. Some possibilities to consider: yogurt topped with fresh fruit, low-sugar instant oatmeal, and hummus with carrot sticks

Migraines Generally Worsen with Age


Here’s some good news: Your migraines may actually improve in time.

A 12-year study of migraine sufferers at a Swedish headache clinic revealed that 29 per cent of migraine sufferers stopped getting the headaches as they grew older. Of those who still had migraines, most in the study reported that the headaches grew less frequent and less painful.

People Generally Feel Great the Day After a Migraine


More than half of migraine sufferers experience the so-called “migraine hangover,” which can last up to two days after the pain stops. Also known as the “postdrome” phase, it can include fatigue, irritability, fuzzy thinking, and sore muscles.

Being aware of this final phase allows you to treat yourself with compassion if you feel down after a migraine resolves.

Erin O’Donnell is a former editor of Natural Health magazine. She writes about health and wellbeing, and lives in Wisconsin.

Article courtesy of Beliefnet.com. Beliefnet offers daily inspiration with news articles on faith, religion, politics, health, family entertainment, sustainable living and more.