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.
In 50% of cases, ocular migraines cause temporary and dramatic visual disturbance. In the other half of cases, ocular migraines can cause lesser vision disturbances such as:
Partial vision loss
Scotomas, or a blank spots in your vision
Flashes of light
Ocular migraines are usually brief, lasting less than five minutes. However, they can last up to 30 minutes. Forty-one percent of people have a headache during the vision loss. Twenty-five percent have it before...
"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.