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Coping With Migraines and Headaches

Anyone who has ever had a migraine or a headache that just won't go away can attest to how debilitating they can be. The excruciating pain can make functioning impossible. But, there are coping techniques that can make living with headaches manageable. You can find relief in medications, alternative treatments, and by learning ways to reduce stress and relax.

Here are some ways to keep migraines and headaches at bay.

Recommended Related to Migraines/Headaches

Understanding Headache -- Symptoms

If you feel a dull, steady pain that feels like a band tightening around your head, you may have a tension headache. If you feel throbbing that begins on one side and causes nausea or sound/light sensitivity, you may have a migraine. Visual disturbances, such as flickering points of light, may precede a migraine headache. If you feel a non-throbbing pain around one red, watery eye, with nasal congestion on that side of your face, you may have a cluster headache. If you feel a steady pain in the...

Read the Understanding Headache -- Symptoms article > >

  • Follow your headache treatment plan. Avoid taking medications that have not been ordered by your doctor.
  • Reduce emotional stress. Take time to relax and take time away from stressful situations. Learn relaxation skills, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Reduce physical stress. Proper rest and sleep will allow you to deeply relax so you can face the stressors of the new day. When sitting for prolonged periods, get up and stretch periodically. Relax your jaw, neck, and shoulders.
  • Exercise regularly. Get at least 20 minutes of exercise three times a week.
  • Keep a regular routine. Eat meals and snacks at about the same times every day, and get enough sleep at night.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking can trigger headaches and make any headache, especially cluster headaches, worse. Ask your doctor for information about smoking cessation programs in your community.
  • Know your headache triggers. Keep a headache diary to keep track of what triggers your headaches and avoid these triggers in the future.
  • Preventive therapy. Women who often get headaches around their menstrual period can take preventive therapy when they know their period is coming.

In addition to these headache coping tips, there are organizations and support groups that may be able to help.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on April 19, 2012
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