Not everyone gets them. It’s a select club, one nobody chooses to join.
You know if you’re a member. You call yourself a Migraineur and you get periodic debilitating headaches that impact your quality of life.
I’ve been a member for a couple years now and I’m going to share the tips I’ve learned for coping, including how magnesium supplements have reduced the frequency and severity of my migraine headaches.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be used in place of the advice of a healthcare professional. While my wife and I have been taking magnesium supplements every day for years, I can't say how they might affect you. Always consult a doctor if you have health concerns: don't try to self-diagnose!
What Are Migraines?
It used to be that migraines were simple.
The classic definition was a one-sided, throbbing headache that lasted up to 72 hours, usually accompanied by sensitivity to light, sound, and smell, and sometimes bouts of nausea and vomiting. Quite often the classic migraine would start with the sufferer seeing weird lights or other visual artifacts (an aura) before the pain began.
Over the years though doctors have started to expand the definition of a migraine.
Now they may not be preceded by an aura, or may not be one-sided, or may be a steady pain instead of throbbing.
Migraines can even occur without pain, instead causing dizziness (a vestibular migraine).
It doesn’t matter how you define it though. The symptoms are real, severe, and difficult to manage.
Methods Of Treating Migraines
There are two ways to deal with migraines:
- prevent them from happening
- manage the symptoms when they do happen
Nobody wants a migraine, so you’re better off trying to prevent them from happening.
Not all migraines can be prevented though so you’ll also need to have some tricks up your sleeve to handle them when they do occur.
Finding Migraine Triggers
Many migraines are caused by something or a group of somethings and these causes are called triggers.
Common triggers are:
- Various foods and drinks such as cheeses or red wines
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Your environment
The idea is to find your triggers and avoid them, and the best method of finding your migraine triggers is to keep a journal of your daily life for a couple weeks.
Things to track:
- What you eat and drink and when
- Sleep schedule
- Stress level
- Weather changes
I used a spreadsheet in Google Docs as my journal to find my triggers so I could update it from my PC, phone, or tablet. I recorded all foods and drinks, when I went to bed and when I woke up, as well as any time that I was feeling overly stressed or tired.
Over time you will start to see patterns emerge from the data. The patterns you find are more than worth the effort of keeping the journal.
Your journal may show that you get a migraine a couple hours after having pickles or a can of soup. Or maybe your headache happens if you sleep too late on weekends.
Whatever triggers you find, experiment with them to see what your tolerance is for each one. Maybe you can sleep in on weekends but only until 7:30am. Or maybe you can survive one glass of red wine but not two.
By keeping my journal I found that I can avoid most of my migraines by:
- Keeping a regular sleep schedule
- … even on weekends
- Drinking plenty of water
- dehydration is a big migraine trigger for me
- Exercising regularly
- if I don’t exercise a couple days a week I will start to get more frequent headaches
- Taking magnesium for migraines
- adding magnesium to my diet has reduced the number migraines I get as well as how bad they are
The key is to find your triggers, know your limits, and use this knowledge to avoid as many migraines as possible.
Getting Relief For Migraine Attacks
However, chances are that despite your best efforts at prevention you won’t be able to avoid all your migraines. When prevention fails you need to have some strategies for dealing with them when they do occur.
This is another area where you will need to experiment. Common suggestions are to:
- Avoid bright lights and loud noises
- Lay down
- Stay cool, including putting a cold compress on your head
- Drink plenty of water
Your milage may vary with these, though I have found that laying down in a cold, dark room does help.
However, the one thing that has helped me the most is something unconventional … I take two Ibuprofen and then immediately drink a caffeinated, non-diet soda. It doesn’t always work but quite often it will either stop the migraine in its tracks or at least dull the pain.
I stumbled across this trick on my own but later I checked and found a bunch of people online recommending the same thing. I can’t explain why it works but it does, and I’ve tried both tea and coffee in place of soda but neither does the trick.
Be careful with this though: while it works for me I can only imagine what a medical professional would think of it …
Migraines, Doctors, and Medications
If you suffer from migraines, especially severe ones, you should definitely talk to your doctor. There are a number of medications available that can help both with prevention and pain management.
This is another place where your journal will help you. Try to gather as much data as you can before your appointment: it will help your doctor find the best treatment for you.
Magnesium For Migraines
One possibility is that your doctor may recommend a magnesium supplement. This is what happened to me when I started trying to get help for my symptoms.
Imagine my surprise when my neurologist diagnosed me with migraine headaches, but instead of giving me a prescription he suggested I try taking magnesium for migraines on a regular basis.
I’m glad he did though as magnesium has greatly reduced the number of migraine headaches I get.
I did spend some time testing out various brands until I found the best type of magnesium for migraines but it was well worth the effort.
Migraineur No More
I do still get migraines on occasion but nothing like I used to. I avoid the triggers I found through my journal and I take my magnesium supplements every day.
And when I do feel one starting I head for the Advil and soda …
As always, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your physician or other qualified medical professional to help determine your own optimal level of magnesium, and to see whether magnesium supplementation is right for you.
So if you’re sick of being a migraineur, now is the time to start your journal, find your triggers, and talk to your doctor!