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Listen to your migraine to help you feel better – and to learn about yourself

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/aug/08/listen-to-your-migraine-to-help-you-feel-better-and-to-learn-about-yourself

theguardian.com

Listen to your migraine to help you feel better – and to learn about yourself
Headaches are telling you something about how your brain works with your body, influencing your behaviour and feelings

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When pain is useful

When pain is useful

Pain tells us when something is wrong. It also protects us. If you shut your hand in the car door, your hand will hurt will swell up. The resulting inflammation is part of the healing process.

Your head is not so different. Pain is an early warning system for danger.

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The migraine

The hallmark of the migraine attack is a wave of excitation across the brain quickly followed by a wave of inactivity.

The neurochemical changes associated with these waves cause the blood vessels to narrow in the head. Since a lack of blood-flow in the head can be deadly, our body reacts with a massive blood vessel dilation in response. The heightened activity in your brain means you will have trouble moving, thinking, remembering things, and photophobia. In effect, migraines shut us down until the neurchemical balance is restored.

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Three types of migraine

  • The classic migraine. Some notice it as an 'aura' - the sensory disturbance might be visual or feel like pins and needles.
  • The common migraine is without the auras.
  • An ocular migraine is when you experience the aura without the pain.

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Headaches triggers

You may be able to point to many reasons for your headache: tension, eye strain, lack of sleep, dehydration, sinus, not eating well, alcohol, your environment.

Some migraines are triggered by visual effects. Other migraine triggers are hormones, diet, or cardiovascular origins.

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Identify the symptoms of a migraine

Many sufferers fail to spot the first stage of a migraine: the prodrome phase. It is characterized by pronounced yawning, drowsiness, food craving, sensitivity to light, increased thirst, or blurred vision. These symptoms can happen days or hours before the onset of a migraine.

The best way to recognise the symptoms is by keeping a record of your day: what you ate, your exercise habits, what you drank, how you felt at different points.

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Having some control over our headaches

  • Migraine is linked to depletions in serotonin. Chocolate contains tryptophan, which your body breaks down into serotonin. Craving chocolate before a headache is your body trying to self-medicate and restore serotonin balance.
  • Dopamine and oxytocin block pain receptors. It means that doing something you love will help increase them.

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