World Brain Day 2020: From maintaining regular sleep cycle to exercise, small lifestyle changes can help manage migraines

Migraine is a leading cause of disability, but is also one which is often misunderstood by the general public.

Myupchar July 21, 2020 22:27:44 IST
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World Brain Day 2020: From maintaining regular sleep cycle to exercise, small lifestyle changes can help manage migraines

World Brain Day is observed on 22 July every year and it aims to spread awareness regarding brain health. This year, let’s take this opportunity to talk about migraine — a leading cause of disability, but one which is often misunderstood by the general public.

Migraines are defined as throbbing headaches that usually affect one side of the head and are accompanied by nausea and disturbed vision. They can be triggered by stress, anxiety, tiredness, insufficient sleep, physical over-exertion, low blood sugar or jet lag. Most times, migraines last for a few hours. However, in some cases, severe ones may last for a few days as well.

Approximately 4.4 percent of all consultations in general practice account for headaches, and migraines affect almost 20 percent of people at some point in their lives. While there are medications that may be provided for the treatment of migraines, a few lifestyle changes could also come in handy. Here are five natural ways to treat migraines through lifestyle management:

1. Find a calm environment

At the first sign of a migraine, one should retreat from ongoing and regular activities, if possible. Migraine may increase sensitivity to light, therefore, switching off the lights and relaxing in a dark room may help in some cases. Applying hot or cold compresses to the head or neck could also reduce the pain.

2. Sleep well

One should establish regular sleep hours as sleeping and waking up at the same time can help with migraines. Unwinding by relaxing at the end of the day through music or a warm bath may help too.

3. Eat wisely

Whenever possible, one should eat at the same time daily and should not skip meals. Alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, and fatty foods should be avoided when someone has a migraine. Instead, it is best to opt for green leafy vegetables, food rich in omega 3 fatty acids, foods rich in complex carbohydrates, fresh fruits, whole grains and cereals. Keeping a food journal helps maintain a healthy diet too.

4. Exercise regularly

During exercise, our body releases chemicals (endorphins) that help in getting rid of stress and anxiety which could be a migraine trigger for you. Exercise also helps you sleep better and is hence considered to be an effective way to manage migraines. However, some types of exercises may trigger migraine as well.

5. Keep yourself hydrated

Inadequate hydration leads to the development of a headache. Studies have shown that drinking water relieves headache symptoms in dehydrated individuals within 30 minutes to three hours. Dehydration also causes irritability and hampers concentration levels which can make the symptoms of a migraine worse. Hence, drinking water and consuming foods high in water content always helps manage migraines.

Living with migraine is difficult and challenging. However, making healthy lifestyle choices can be extremely beneficial. In case you begin to feel very anxious about your migraines though, you should seek support from loved ones and reach out to a medical professional.

This article was written by Dr Jaideep Bansal, Director and Head of Department, Neurology, Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh.

For more information, read our article on Migraine.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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