What Causes Migraines?

Different things can trigger migraines. Learn a trick to help you figure out waht causes yours.

If you suffer from migraines you know how bad they feel. There is no way to make family, friends or co-workers understand the pain. It isn't easy but there are a few things that help. The most important thing is a migraine diary.

Keeping diary can help your physician to develop a management plan for your headache. It can also help you learn more and make you more aware of some details you may take for granted. You can use a regular diary or if you're computer literate you might want to set up a spreadsheet that you can print out and take to your doctor.

There are many things to list in your diary. Note the date and time of your headache, of course. Rate the severity of the pain (I use a scale of one to five, five being the most painful). For me, a one means I take a pill, usually ibuprofin, and go on with my day. With a five, I take prescription medication and head back to bed. Write down what medications you take at the time and the dosage. If you use over-the-products make sure you record those, too. Write down what effects the medications had, if any. If you have to take more, or a different kind, be sure to note that in your diary.

Pay attention to the weather. Is it sunny? Hot? Rainy? Write it down. Many people are effected by changes in the weather but don't notice it until they start writing a diary. I've noticed that I get migraines when the weather suddenly turns cold. If you know of other things trigger migraines for you, mark them down if they are present when you get your headache.

What kind of stress are you feeling when you get a headache? Rate your stress level. You might also want to jot down some of the things that are causing you stress at that moment. There are many stress reduction techniques that can be helpful in managing migraines.

Pay special attention to foods. MSG, caffeine, citrus, wheat and dairy products are some of the most common triggers. To find yours, keep track of what you've eaten up to 48 hours before the onset of your headache. Another way of finding out your food triggers is by eliminating the food for a month to see if there are any changes in your migraine patterns.

Women need to be aware of any association with their menstrual cycle. Note where you are in your cycle when you get a headache. If you are having a period, note any symptoms usually connected with your period, like cramps or bloating. Also pay attention to your blood flow, is it heavy or light at the time of your headache.

So that's it. That's your very basic migraine diary. I know that you may not feel like entering all the needed information in your diary when you get a headache. That's okay. Try to do it as soon as possible so that you don't forget. After two or three months you should start to recognize patterns in your migraines. Recognition is the first step towards treatment. You should feel good about taking the first step.

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