I had a school friend years ago who suffered from the most terrible migraines. They would be so bad that she would have to go to bed and try and sleep it off. I always thought that must be so frustrating and it sounded horribly painful.
My dad would often have bad headaches, he never referred to them as migraines, but I do wonder now on reflection if that’s what they were. Hydration and sleep seemed to be the solution for him, but he would often throw down a couple of headache tablets as he referred to them, to try and improve things enough that he could carry on with his day.
I read recently that around 10 million people in the U.K are affected by migraines. For many sufferers, the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic has worsened or triggered new migraine symptoms. Are you one of these people? I rarely get a headache but I’ve noticed I have had them a couple of times a week since mid-way through the first lockdown – possibly triggered by home-schooling!
In addition to the stress and uncertainty since COVID-19 began, the drastic lifestyle change, including remote working and many people being less active, is thought to have been another contributing factor. Excessive screen time has been integral to our new normal; so many people have talked about how it often feels as if we’re stuck in an endless cycle of working at our computer screens all day, then staring at a television screen or scrolling through our smartphones all evening. In 2020, the average person spent a shocking 13 hours per day on digital devices!
This has meant more people are getting migraines but conversely has also been beneficial for some people who already suffered with migraines. The flexibility of remote working also means that some migraine sufferers have been able to keep their symptoms at bay by taking regular breaks, keeping hydrated, and stepping back from their fast paced lifestyles.
A few facts
The Migraine Trust identified that:
• Workers in the UK lose a total of 25 million days per year due to debilitating migraines – that’s a huge amount!
• Over 3/4 of people who experience migraines have at least one attack each month – so it’s also regular!
• Between 85 – 90% of people with migraines experience sensitivity to light, particularly the blue light commonly emitted from phones and computer screens.
These figures indicate that it’s vital for migraine sufferers to adapt their lifestyles to preserve their wellbeing and ease their symptoms. This is particularly true for people who lead busy lifestyles.
So what can sufferers do?
One of the things that is thought to considerably help relieve migraine pain is hydration. I’ve actually noticed this with pain levels myself. I frequently suffer from neck, shoulder and back pain and having experimented over the years, I know that the more water I drink, the better it gets.
If the children ever complain of a headache, the first thing I ask, is “when did you last have a drink?”.
Be careful with caffeinated drinks as these can often trigger migraines for some people.
Try natural pain-relief methods
I’m a big believer that you should try natural pain relief methods before reaching for pills. Some of the best ones are cold and heat. We have an eye mask at home full of lavender that you warm in the microwave. This is so relaxing and I’ve used it myself a couple of times when I’ve been so tired my head has hurt. It’s also a lovely way to induce a relaxing sleep, which of course helps to!
If heat isn’t your thing, try cold. You could try an ice pack on your head, or if that is too much for you, a cold flannel across your forehead and eyes.
When I was in labour with my four children I loved my TENS machine. It was my best friend quite honestly. These are perfect if you are looking for a drug-free approach, and of course this system can be used for a ton of other things aside from giving birth. Paingone have a number of products available to help with drug-free pain management. As an example, Paingone Qalm provides an easy and effective way to treat the debilitating pain of a migraine, with an easy to wear device that when applied directly to the head can provide fast and effective relief from all manner of headaches and migraines and can be used as often as needed. All totally drug-free!
Ever had a headache from being hungry? Hunger can be a trigger for migraines, as can certain foods. If you feel as if your eating is having a negative effect on your migraines, you could start keeping a food diary. That way you may, over time be able to pinpoint the triggers for your migraines and cut those foods out of your diet.
If you are a migraine sufferer yourself, please do share your own tips for readers in a comment below.