When I first started having severe headaches at work, I thought I just needed to get my eyes checked or cut down on caffeine.  A visit to a general practicioner and two visits at the optical shop both declared though that I still have a 20-20 vision.  It was after a subsequent visit to an eye specialist that I was finally diagnosed with migraine.

Migraine headaches are characterized by severe, throbbing pain usually affecting one side of the head which may be accompanied by increased sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and vomiting. In some cases, there could also be osmophobia where the patient will instinctively seek a dark and quiet room. The number one trigger of migraine headache is stress. Other factors that might cause headaches are bright lights, hormones, odors or cigarette smoke, alcohol, chocolates, nitrites and MSG.

image via http://medicinenet.com/

Migraine attacks may be avoided by knowing your triggers and exerting effort to consciously avoid them. If you are aware of your triggers, you can already assess if your headache may be tolerated or if it’s another migraine attack. In which case, you can take appropriate measures to prevent it from getting worse. Since it is often triggered by stress,  relaxation therapy or techniques may be useful in stopping the attack at its onset. Sleep can also help in relieving your migraine. For mild or moderate headaches, over the counter pain relievers can do the job. However, it will only relieve you of your pain and it will not stop the attacks. In my case, I prefer to take pain relievers or analgesic immediately when the pain or throbbing starts especially if I’m at work or in the field. Usually the pain relievers are able to address the pain. During severe attacks, the pain relievers are of no help at all resulting to an inability to function so I end up sleeping it of for at least half a day.

The best way to combat this illness is having a good eating habits, regular exercise, de-stressing your lifestyle and always being prepared for an attack. Know your triggers and have your medications ready.