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Understanding migraines: Causes, triggers and effective lifestyle changes

Avoiding unnecessary consumption of painkillers and rather addressing the root cause of migraines is extremely important.

Migraines affect millions of people—children as well as adults. It is commonly known as an intense, painful and debilitating headache. The excruciating pain can last anywhere between four hours and even days. Avoiding unnecessary consumption of painkillers and rather addressing the root cause of migraines is extremely important.

Migraines are multifactorial. But some triggers or causes of migraine include:

Magnesium deficiency: Migraines are a neurological condition. Adding magnesium-rich foods to your regular meals can help improve your nerve health. Spinach, pumpkin seeds, almonds are rich in magnesium. Some cases may require supplementation. Do this under the supervision of your health professional.

Vitamin D levels: Vitamin D aids the absorption of magnesium. It is recommended to check for vitamin D deficiency if you get headaches. Yes, it is one of the possible causes of migraines. Vitamin D needs to be supplemented alongside magnesium for best results.

Food intolerances: In most cases, if you have persistent migraines, your doctor will advise you to get a food tolerance test. If any foods aggravate your migraine, removing them can aid in reducing the frequency and intensity.

Chronic stress: If you are always under stress, your arteries and blood vessels constrict. This constriction of your blood vessels in the brain can be one of the reasons why you face migraine. Meditate, exercise, find hobbies, and try to overcome stress.

Sensitivity to light and noises: Exposure to strong stimuli such as bright lights, loud noises, long periods of screen exposure, or strong smells can also trigger migraine. Weather changes or sunlight can also lead to migraines.

Period-induced migraines: Many women come across enhanced migraines close to periods or mid-cycle during ovulation. When there is a drop in oestrogen, migraines tend to exacerbate. If you have a period-induced migraine, it is an indication of a hormonal imbalance.

Vitamin B12 levels. It helps regulate neurological functions. The deficiency can lead to migraine headaches. Work on your gut health to maintain B12 levels is very important.

Constipation: When you have constant constipation and poor gut health, there is a huge possibility that you may experience migraine headaches. When you are constipated, the body holds on to a lot of oestrogen and waste for long periods, which can cause a toxin overload and increased acidity. Once you resolve constipation, the frequency and intensity of your migraines will reduce.

Lack of hydration and loss of electrolytes

Hydration is key and even a percentage drop in hydration can trigger migraines and headaches. Another concern is loss of electrolytes, especially if you are profusely sweating, consuming a lot of tea, coffee, and alcohol.

Here are a few lifestyle changes that play a role in reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines:

1. Maintaining a record can help you identify individual factors that lead to migraine.

2. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is very effective in preventing migraine.

3. Maintain a regular sleep pattern to manage the intensity of pain.

4. Eat meals at regular intervals. Avoid skipping meals and eating late at night.

5. Wear glasses, scarves, and caps while heading out to prevent a migraine attack.

6. Chewing on a sliced piece of ginger or drinking ginger tea helps to curb the pain.

7. Fruits like pineapple and papaya help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

8. Essential oils like lavender, ginger, or peppermint help minimise pain.

In case you have recurrent migraines, it is recommended that you get yourself medically assessed and take the required course of treatment.

Coutinho is an integrative lifestyle expert

The New Indian Express