Posted by: mosblog | December 8, 2014

Headache Prevention Notes from my Neurologist

I get migraines. A lot. I’m on a quest to get rid of them. I have friends who also get migraines and I want to share the natural ways my neurologist suggested I prevent them. Here they are.

  • Get Regular Exercise – studies show that regular cardio exercise (5 days a week, 30 minutes a day) does an excellent job preventing headaches – better than most medications. Avoid overexertion and start gradually – even a daily walk helps. Work on daily relaxation, deep breathing & good posture also.
  • Drink Plenty of Water – about one-half to one gallon of water a day – this helps prevent headaches, and helps back and joint pain as well. If you have a headache, drinking a big glass of water can help it get better.
  • If you smoke, STOP! Smoking is a common headache trigger and cigarette smoke contains chemicals that can make it worse. Besides headaches, smoking causes cancer, strokes, and heart disease. It makes arthritis and low back pain worse. It is an ugly, expensive addiction. No excuses – throw them away!
  • Stop caffeine – this includes coffee, tea, caffeinated soda and caffeine containing meds like Excedrin or Fioricet – caffeine may help a headache is used infrequently, but studies show that regular caffeine use results in an increased number of headaches for many people. Try stopping all caffeine for 6 weeks – see if it help.
  • Avoid food triggers – MSG (often in Chinese food and salad dressing), aspartame (NutraSweet), red wine, beer, coffee (even decaf), processed foods containing nitrates, and chocolate are all common migraine triggers – if it gives you a headache, don’t eat it!! Eat regular, small, healthy meals.
  • Strong perfumes / smells can trigger migraines – beware of chemically scented air fresheners.
  • Don’t overuse your pain medicines – if you are using ANY pain meds more than three days in a row or 12 days a month, there is a chance it could be causing rebound headaches. This is particularly true for narcotic drugs like Vicodin, Fioricet, Darvocet, and Oxycontin. Talk to your doctor.
  • Unless you are allergic to NSAIDS or have ulcers or kidney problems, naproxen sodium (Aleve) is often good over the counter medicine for headaches. If you have any questions, talk to your doctor. Take it with food of milk according to the package directions. It lasts 6 to 12 hours, longer than most pain meds. If you use it, take it at the first sign of the headache – don’t wait for the headache to become severe. Never take it more than 10 days in a row or if your stomach hurts – call your doctor.
  • Some recent studies show that the combination of Magnesium 250 mg twice a day & Riboflavin 400 mg once a day (or 200 mg twice a day) can prevent headaches if taken every day. These are inexpensive natural substances you can buy without prescription. If you have heart or kidney disease, or if you have any questions or concerns, you should not take magnesium without talking to your doctor first. You have to take these every day. They work gradually and may take 2 months to be effective.
  • Over the counter supplements that can help with nerve pain and healing – check with your doctor first. Coenzyme Q10 at least 200 mg a day (can help with nerve healing and headaches)

I hope this helps any of you with migraines or headaches. Some of this seems too hard (give up coffee and chocolate? no way!) but you’ll just have to weigh the love for the thing you have to give up with the pain of the headache. I’m so glad I wrote this up. I’m going to do all of these things hardcore now so I don’t have to go back on meds that give me wacked out side effects.

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