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Migraine Headaches - Living With Migraine Headaches

You may have fewer migraines—and less pain when you do get them—by trying to:

  • Find and avoid triggerstriggers for your headaches.
  • Keep a headache diary(What is a PDF document?) to find out what triggers your migraines.
  • Take medicine as your doctor advises to prevent and stop migraines.
  • Take your medicine right away when you think that you are getting a migraine.
  • Reduce stress with relaxation and positive-thinking methods.
  • Get help from your doctor and a counselor if you think that your migraines may be linked to depression or anxiety. Treating these health problems may reduce how often you get migraines.
actionset.gif Headaches: Managing Headaches.

Find and avoid migraine triggers

You can reduce how many migraines you have by finding out what triggers your migraines and avoiding those things. Triggers may include food, alcohol, hot weather, and changes to your routine.

actionset.gif Migraines: Finding and Avoiding Triggers.

Keep a headache diary

Keep a headache diary(What is a PDF document?) to find your triggers. You write down when you have a headache and how bad it is, along with details such as what you ate and what you did before the headache started. This information can help you find and avoid the things that bring on your headaches.

Take your medicines as directed


One Woman's Story:

Carole, 41

"I always used to wait too long to take my medicine. Now I take it as soon as I start to feel the twinges of pain."—Carole

Read more about how Carole changed the way she treated her migraines.

The best way to stop a migraine is to take your medicine at the first sign of a headache. You might think you can stop the migraine by lying down and being quiet or doing relaxation exercises. But if a migraine has started, it's probably too late for those other methods to work.

  • Keep your medicine with you at all times so that you're ready when a headache starts.
  • Don't take the medicine too often. Talk to your doctor if you're taking your medicine more than 2 days a week, or if you get more than 3 headaches a month. Too much medicine—over-the-counter or prescription—can lead to more headaches. These are called rebound headaches.

You may be able to have fewer headaches by taking prescription medicine to prevent migraines. But taking this medicine doesn't mean that you'll never get a migraine.

dplink.gif Headaches: Should I Take Medicine to Prevent Migraines?

Reduce stress

Migraine headaches are more common during stressful times or right after a stressful time ends.

You can lower your stress with positive thinking and relaxation methods. Research shows that you can change how you think. And how you think affects how you feel. Try these techniques on your own or with help from a therapist or counselor.

actionset.gif Doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation
actionset.gif Managing Your Time
actionset.gif Reducing Stress by Being Assertive
actionset.gif Breathing Exercises for Relaxation
actionset.gif Doing Guided Imagery to Relax
actionset.gif Doing Meditation
actionset.gif Practicing Yoga to Relax

You also can learn to stop thinking all the time about things that bother you.

actionset.gif Stop Negative Thoughts: Getting Started

Get help from your doctor or counselor

A doctor or counselor, or both, can help you if a problem like depression or anxiety makes your migraines worse. Treating these health problems may reduce how many migraines you get.

actionset.gif Anxiety: Stop Negative Thoughts
actionset.gif Depression: Stop Negative Thoughts

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 10, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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