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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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5 Important Lifestyle Changes for Migraines

By Amanda Gardner
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by William Blahd, MD

Lisa Jacobson was standing in her kitchen, cooking dinner and wearing some unusual garb -- sunglasses and earplugs. She was using these to block out the light and subdue the noise that aggravated the vicious migraine stabbing at her eye. 

It wasn't the first time  the 56-year-old had donned these items. She’d begun having daily migraines 25 years ago. But this evening was different. This time, the pain actually went away."It was like a black-and-white film turning into technicolor," says Jacobson, founder of The Daily Migraine, a web site for people with chronic migraines.

Recommended Related to Migraines/Headaches

What Kind of Migraine Is It?

About 1 in 4 people get a clue (called a prodrome) that a migraine is imminent. Signs include: Mood changes, excitability, irritability Depression Fatigue and yawning Muscle tension Signs may occur as early as 1 or 2 days before the headache. Practice recognizing early signs. Your efforts may help you abort a headache.

Read the What Kind of Migraine Is It? article > >

Lifestyle changes were key in her recovery. She had recently revved-up her exercise routine, bought a mouth guard to reduce stress on her jaw, and gotten rid of a lot of medications. These simple strategies were game changers for Jacobson. If you deal with migraines, you might want to try them along with a few of the other ideas listed below.

Take Fewer Meds

At the height of her migraines, Jacobson was taking triptans, a potent prescription drug, every 6 to 12 hours. But her headaches were only getting worse. She was probably suffering from what's known as a "rebound" headache. That’s when too many migraine meds add to your problem instead of helping it.

Major culprits are over-the-counter medications, especially those that contain caffeine or multiple ingredients. "Reaching for the pills is a negative lifestyle factor that brings short-term relief and long-term exacerbation,” says Richard Lipton, MD, director, Montefiore Headache Center in New York. If you're taking drugs to treat pain more than twice a week, think about cutting down. Ask your doctor about the right regimen for you.

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