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Tips for Managing an Increase in Migraine Attacks

How do you manage a sudden uptick in migraine attacks? I’ve been asking myself this as I’ve wrestled with stress-triggered attacks for the last few months. After hearing that many others have also had a sharp increase in their attack frequency, the Migraine.com team crowdsourced the question on Facebook. Many of your responses resonated with my own experience. Here are some suggestions for managing a sudden increase in attacks.

Change your work schedule or work from home, if possible

Purpleproject said, “Since I’m able to work from home, I immediately adjust my schedule in whatever way I can to avoid things getting worse.” Working from home is a strategy I use, too, when I need to try to get my migraine attacks under control. Being in my own environment and taking breaks throughout the day can be a huge help.

Focus on rest and try to improve your sleep habits

Trying to “get lots of rest” is Jaymie H.’s strategy. She says, “The last few months I’ve had a run of bad migraines. Stress and irregular sleep aren’t helping anything. So I make sure I rest when my body needs it.” Allowing myself to rest and prioritizing sleep are also critical for me to get my migraine attacks under control. I rest when I need to and am careful to try to stick to a regular sleep schedule, since sleeping in can be a migraine trigger.

Look for lifestyle factors that could have gotten out of whack

“Trying to understand what in my lifestyle has changed recently that could be linked, and then taking steps to work on this” is Carmel R.’s way of coping with an increase in attacks. For example, she says, “It’s surprising how stress can slowly increase overtime without noticing.” And when stress creeps up, so many other lifestyle triggers for migraine can also become unbalanced—like not eating properly, a disturbed sleep schedule, not staying hydrated, not getting enough exercise…. This is definitely true for me. In fact, trying to get these lifestyle factors back on track is one of the reasons I try to work from home when my attacks suddenly increase.

Make sure you’re drinking enough water

For Paula H., “sudden upticks for me mean water. I didn't realize how much water was impacting migraines until I had to start drinking a gallon of water a day when I was pregnant per my cardiologist. Since then when I start getting worse or sudden it is usually related to not having enough water for a couple days.” While dehydration isn’t a major migraine trigger for me, I feel better overall when I stay hydrated. One way to check if you’re getting enough water is to gently pinch the back of your hand. If the skin bounces right back, you’re well-hydrated; if your skin slowly goes back to normal, then you need more fluids.

Stretch

“Move around more, lots stretching,” is Candice W.’s approach. It’s hard for me to remember to take this advice, but when I do, it reduces my neck and back pain, which makes my migraine attacks more bearable. If neck tension is a trigger for you, then regular stretching could be an important piece of the migraine management puzzle.

Increase your supplements (with your doctor’s guidance)

When they have an increase in migraine attacks, Jennifer S. increases her magnesium intake, Missy C. takes feverfew, and Rebecca E. uses an electrolyte drink to try to get things under control. Alisa S. makes sure she keeps up on all her supplements. Similarly, I’m a big fan of this strategy. I just increased my magnesium this week to try to get a handle on my attacks.

How do you manage a sudden increase in your migraine attack frequency? Please leave a comment to share your strategies.

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