If you suffer from frequent migraines, it might seem like just about everything causes you pain. Many migraine sufferers, however, experience increased pain from certain stimuli or environments. Get to know seven of the most common things that make migraines worse, and learn how to avoid these stimuli.
If you’ve ever noticed that dark clouds, thunderstorms, or persistent rain make your head hurt, you’re not imagining things. In fact, weather is a common migraine cause, since changes in barometric pressure or temperature can lead to discomfort. Since you can’t control the weather, keep an eye on the forecast. If you see a significant weather event on the horizon, such as a dip in temperatures or a major storm system, talk with your doctor about taking pain medication as a preventive measure.
Certain types of lighting, like fluorescents and strobes, can make bad headaches worse. Keep sunglasses on hand and put them on when you unexpectedly encounter bright lights. At home or in the workplace, use compact fluorescent bulbs that are easier on your eyes.
Feeling like a zombie after a bad night of sleep is never fun, and interrupted or insufficient sleep can worsen migraines. If you wake up with severe pain, poor sleep could be a migraine trigger. Stick to a regular sleep schedule every day of the week, and make sure you get enough each night. Put away smartphones, tablets, and laptops well in advance of bedtime to reduce the risk of impairing your sleep cycle.
For many people with migraines, consistency is key. In addition to interrupted sleep, skipping meals can cause your pain levels to rise. Try to eat nutritious meals and snacks on a consistent schedule or at regular intervals, and you’ll help your body regulate itself.
Whether it’s an intense session at the gym or a tough day at work, physical exertion is a common migraine trigger. If you’ve noticed that a long run, a hard weight lifting session, or a strenuous day at a jobsite causes your pain levels to rise, talk with your doctor. Your medical team might guide you through developing a healthier way to approach physical exertion or prescribe medication to help you manage the pain.
Not all medications interact in a healthy way, and some can have unexpected side effects. Whether you take prescription or over-the-counter medications, you should always run them by your doctor. Some medications cause what seems like an endless cycle of headaches, while others contain substances like nitroglycerin or albuterol, which can trigger migraines.
You might already take care not to let major life changes causing stress to seep into your life. But what about low-level stress? Studies show that everyday stress is one of the most common causes of headaches. Be aware of what causes stress in your life, and try making small changes or plan ahead to lower anxiety.
Migraines aren’t always easy to manage, especially when you’re in severe pain. Start paying close attention to what triggers your worst migraines, and you’ll begin to identify ways to feel better.