by Krystle Orlando October 12, 2020 5 min read

Migraines and headaches can be difficult to understand. Despite the many years — and many dollars — spent researching causes and seeking solutions, people around the world still suffer from debilitating headaches that can come on without warning and last for days.

Migraines can come in many shapes and forms, but they all include serious pain and fatigue. Perhaps the most challenging part of migraines is their unpredictability. Migraine sufferers can go from feeling completely healthy and vibrant to feeling totally debilitated in a matter of just a few hours. This can cause serious problems in the workplace and at home, where individuals have to scramble to get their responsibilities covered while they are out of commission because of their headaches.

Is It a Migraine?

When a migraine first strikes, it can be hard to recognize. For some people, it's difficult to tell if they are suffering from a headache or something more serious. There are some medications that are helpful, but they can also have side effects. For many people, the available treatments simply don't provide relief.

When nothing seems to help the pain, it's easy to get discouraged. Like many other chronic conditions, the stress and tension of not being able to find relief from your pain can make your symptoms worse.

Understanding Your Symptoms

There are a variety of symptoms that accompany migraines, which can sometimes lead to a misdiagnosis. Besides intense, focused pain in the head, here are some of the other signs of a migraine:

  • Dull, aching pain on one or both sides of the head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Extreme sensitivity to light
  • Fatigue and brain fog
  • Stiffness/tenderness in the neck
  • Sensitivity of the scalp
  • Blurred vision or blind spots
  • Sinus tension or pain
  • Lightheadedness or difficulty with balance

If you have any of these other symptoms that come and go without warning along with your headaches, there's a good chance that you are experiencing migraines. That's why your headache hasn't been responding to the typical over-the-counter remedies.

What Causes Headaches?

While the fundamental cause of migraines can differ depending on the individual, there are underlying mechanisms in the body that create the sensation of migraines. Basically, tension and stress restrict the veins and arteries in the body. When your veins and arteries are restricted, blood flow decreases, which can ultimately lead to many different symptoms.

There are many factors that can lead to a full-blown migraine; of course, stress is a factor. Unfortunately, many stress-relieving activities like eating sugar, having a glass of wine, or even very rigorous exercise can ultimately contribute to your migraines.

Common Triggers of Migraines

Even though there are many things that can trigger migraines, several factors are fairly common. Here are some of the biggest culprits of migraines:

Dehydration:If you don't have a regular routine of hydrating before bed, you could actually end up going more than 14 hours without water by the time you wake up in the morning. This can lead to pain in any part of the body, but can be particularly uncomfortable if you are prone to migraines.

Food allergies: Any foods that cause a histamine-based reaction — like lobster, shrimp, smoked/fermented food and even cinnamon — could be aggravating your migraine. These foods contain a lot of cytokines that can cause restriction of the arteries.

Posture:Anyone with recurring migraines should consider whether their posture is causing them to hold tension in the head or neck. If you have a misaligned posture, clenched jaw, or are even over-straining your eyes, you could be exacerbating your migraines. Sometimes little adjustments in posture can make a big difference.

Blood sugar levels: If you have imbalanced blood sugar levels, you could end up with recurring headaches. An imbalance in blood sugar can be caused by a variety of diet factors, but if you suspect blood sugar may be causing your migraines, you should consider limiting your sugar intake and reducing added sugar from your diet as much as possible.

Getting to the Bottom of Your Pain

If you have already eliminated the above factors, you may feel like you're at a dead-end in determining the source of your migraines. Because migraines are linked to constricted blood vessels, which have many causes, it can be challenging to get to the bottom of your headaches.

To help track down what's causing your headaches, keep an open mind as you gather information about why you may be experiencing migraines. Issues like environmental toxins, imbalances with your hormone levels, and even leaky-gut syndrome could be the ultimate reason why you are having pain.

There are some questions migraine sufferers should ask themselves to help zero in on a cause. For example, are your headaches worse at a particular time of the day? This could indicate that hormone imbalances are at play. Do you suffer most in the morning? This could indicate issues with dehydration, sodium levels, or your adrenals. Do you find that your migraines spring up after meals? This could be an indication that you may be suffering from a leaky-gut issue.

Treating Migraines at Home

Luckily, there are things you can do at home to relieve your pain. Using hot/cold compresses can be particularly helpful for migraines. Some migraine sufferers find relief using a cold compress on the head, and a warm compress at the feet to encourage blood flow.

Deep breathing exercises and routines can be another way to manage migraine pain. Yoga or meditation breathing exercises can help you relax, which can relieve pain.

Finally, get your body moving, even in very gentle ways. Because so much of the pain of migraines can be attributed to blood flow issues, increasing exercise and movement can be a key to relieving pain, even when moving seems almost impossible. Start small, with gentle, slow walks or even exercises you can do while sitting in a chair.

Tackling Your Migraines

Like so many chronic conditions, healing migraines requires paying close attention to your body. While your migraines can often seem to come on at random, there are usually triggers. A wide variety of factors could be contributing to your pain — your diet, toxins in your environment, gut issues, hormonal issues and more.

There are specialized at-home lab tests you can take to help you understand what triggers your condition and how you can move forward. You may want to start with one that takes an in-depth look at your body's heavy metal toxicity and mineral levels.

Case Study: Migraines & Exercise

Brooke is a 45-year-old marathon runner who has always been in great shape because of her active hobby. But in the last couple of years, she began suffering from migraines. Even though she made diet changes and tried some prescription medications, the migraines seemed to get worse and more frequent.

Brooke decided to take an at-home lab test to look at her thyroid and adrenal hormone levels. She also made a detailed food diary, reflecting on what foods seemed to exacerbate the pain. Brooke discovered that her hormonal levels were in flux, indicating that she was actually premenopausal.

Once she realized that hormonal imbalance was a factor in her migraines, she was able to start a customized regimen of supplements and minerals to help bring her back into balance. At the same time, Brooke's food diary revealed that she was having trouble especially in the mornings and after runs. Brooke realized that even though she was drinking plenty of water, she was no longer absorbing electrolytes the way she used to. By focusing attention on adjusting her diet and balancing her hormones, Brooke was able to finally end her migraines. She's happy to report she hasn't had one in over six months!

Ready to Get Rid of Migraines for Good?

If you've been dealing with migraines for a long time, it can seem like an overwhelming issue to address. But with commitment and discipline, you can finally get to the bottom of why you have been struggling with this difficult illness.

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