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    Migraines: 5 Tips to Take Control

    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 needed 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 started having daily migraines 25 years ago. But this evening was different. This time, the pain actually went away.

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    Basilar Migraines

    Basilar migraines are headaches that start in the lower part of the brain, called the brainstem. They cause symptoms such as dizziness, double vision, and lack of coordination. These changes, called an aura, can happen about 10 minutes to 45 minutes before your head hurts. The headache pain of a basilar migraine often starts on one side of the head and then gradually spreads and gets stronger. This type of migraine can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. And it takes time to recover from one. You...

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    "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.

    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 had gotten rid of a lot of medications. These simple tactics were game-changers for Jacobson.

    If you deal with migraines, you might want to try them along with a few other ideas.

    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 having 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 have caffeine or multiple ingredients.

    "Reaching for the pills is a negative lifestyle factor that brings short-term relief" and makes headaches worse in the long run, 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 plan for you.

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