Avoiding a migraine

How to avoid and prevent migraines?

Migraines can cause serious pain, discomfort, loss of productivity and a reduced quality of life. So for many, the best offense is a good defense—stop the migraine before it starts. To avoid migraines, first you must know what triggers migraines in your case. Keeping a Migraine Symptom Journal will help you compile your personal migraine triggers list, which will help you more successfully learn how to prevent migraine attacks.

Once you’ve nailed down your unique set of triggers - for example some people stay away from certain foods to avoid migraines - you can possibly stave off migraine attacks or at least be better prepared for their onset if you know one is unavoidable.

Don’t stop at just staying away from your migraine triggers, to prevent migraines.

Other ways to avoid and prevent migraines include:

  • Keep a regular schedule for sleeping, eating and exercise
  • Avoid stressful activities
  • Learn and practice relaxation techniques
  • Address possible underlying depression or anxiety
  • Wearing tinted eyeglasses to block off the red portion of the spectrum helps some
  • Seek treatment for any underlying conditions that might contribute to migraines such as depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, bipolar disease, and other endocrine disorders.

Prophylactic medication to prevent migraines

For some, taking medications on a regular basis helps prevent migraines. This is called prophylactic treatment of migraine. When medicine is taken after a migraine attack has started, it is considered using abortive medications for migraines.

Prophylactic medications are usually prescribed for patients who frequently have very severe migraine attacks, particularly if medications taken during the attacks don’t work and if all other measures to prevent migraines failed. Doctors may also prescribe medicine if migraines cause three or more missed days of work or school per month. The medication may have to be taken for weeks or months before it is fully effective in avoiding migraines. Once the medication has worked to prevent migraines, the physician may gradually stop the medicine after a year or so to see if the migraines stay away. Some patients remain migraine free for a while afterwards. The medication may need to be restarted if the migraines return.

For women who suffer from migraines related to their menstrual cycle, may be prescribed medicines to prevent menstrual migraines. These medications may be taken only on those days leading up to the menstrual cycle, since this type of migraine is easier to predict.

Types of medications used to prevent migraines

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Written by: Otesa Miles | Last review date: November 2010