Don't squeeze the trigger!
In the last few weeks, we have developed a series of blog posts dedicated to addressing therapies for the most common types of physical pain, which begins here. Last week we moved into the topic of headache pain, which is an expansive topic. So, this week and in the coming weeks, we will continue to uncover the topic of headaches. . .
A review, what is headache pain?
Pain in general is the body’s way of letting you know something is wrong. These articles will focus on the kinds of headache pain that I treat in my practice.
Generally, my patients experience one of the following types of headaches:
- Tension headaches
- Sinus headaches
- Cluster headaches
This week is a continuation of the discussion about migraine headaches. I will describe some of the triggers that initiate a migraine — these types of headaches are probably the worst because they can sneak up on you and. . . whammo!
I mentioned in the previous article that dehydration could play an important role in headache woes. So, the first tip for preventing any type of migraine is to stay hydrated.
“Okay, I’m hydrated. Now what?”
Allergies cause migraines
Well, my research has lead me to conclude that migraines are primarily allergy related. As I mentioned before, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is my trigger, and it took me a while to figure this out because I had no idea I was allergic to the stuff. Nor did I know that MSG was in so many products.
Okay, so some other food allergies I have heard about as a cause of migraines are:
- Cheese and cheesy-related products can cause allergic reactions that result in migraines.
- Certain meats that have been injected with hormones (or who knows what), can have a similar effect.
- All types of food additives — for example, I had a patient tell me that a certain food coloring (dye) could set off her migraine.
- Certain types of wine use nitrates as a preservative, and nitrates can trigger migraines in some people.
- Caffeine, sometimes used to treat headaches, can cause a problem if used in excess.
- Too much headache pain relieving medicine can cause what’s known as analgesic rebound. This happens because your body adapts to the medicine you’re taking and, in turn, the medicine becomes the cause of the migraine or headache.
Food allergies can be very difficult to pinpoint, so pay close attention to what you are ingesting — it could be the cause of your next migraine.
In the world, of the world
Other triggers are environmental. It’s bad enough that most of us have seasonal allergies, but add a debilitating headache to the mix and that makes for a really lousy day. Some environmental triggers are things that most of us don’t think about.
- Bright flashing lights or loud noises can trigger migraines.
- How about 3D movies or I-MAX cinema? I can’t watch them anymore because they can cause me to have headaches.
- Excessive heat can be a problem too. Here in Green Country it can get to 100 degrees or higher in the summer, and too much exposure can trigger a problem.
- Do any of you have sensitive noses? Some odors can cause the onset of a migraine. Not necessarily bad smells either; it could be a flower, strong perfume or cologne that starts the migraine. I have a friend who gets migraines from freshly mowed lawns. He has to drive by the yards with the windows rolled up!
Bending without breaking
The grand finale of all environmental migraine triggers? Stress! This should go without saying, right?
Wrong because, while many of us understand, in theory, that we should avoid it, stress can be a stealthy beast, lying in wait, growing more intense by the second. Stress causes inflammation in our blood vessels and, thereby, restricted blood flow, which leads to vascular problems in the brain — remember, a migraine is a vascular type of headache. For some people, the migraine is the indication that they are stressed out! This makes it important to heighten your self-awareness, and to try hard to reduce stress in your life.
Next time we’ll talk about tension headaches pain and some self help therapies you can practice on your own.
peace and love