Members of our #MoveAgainstMigraine group shared their top tips to hack your migraine management
Whether you’ve lived with migraine your whole life or just a few months, you know that managing your disease is a balancing act. Many people develop new tools or find shortcuts along the way that help them control their symptoms. We asked our online communities of migraine patients and advocates to share their #MigraineHacks with us to compile a list of tips they’ve picked up along the way. Read on to learn how your colleagues avoid migraine triggers, manage their symptoms and, ultimately, live with migraine.
Hack #1: Keep things consistent
Move Against Migraine moderator Rachel strives for consistency because “migraine hates change.” She sticks to a strict routine and keeps her sleep times, exercise and diet consistent. Studies show that Rachel’s method can help manage migraine symptoms. Headache hygiene is the practice of taking care of yourself in a way that reduces the likelihood, frequency and severity of headaches. An important part of headache hygiene is getting into a routine, whether it’s sticking to an exercise schedule or maintaining a treatment plan, to help prevent migraine in the long term.
Hack #2: Avoid stressful situations
Stress is a common migraine trigger with more than 70% of patients listing it as a trigger. MAM moderator Renee tries to plan ahead to avoid being caught off guard and avoids stressors whenever possible. For example, when she gets upset with someone she’ll physically remove herself from the situation if she feels her pain level increasing.
The truth is that stress is a trigger for a massive number of migraine patients. According to an article “Stress and Migraine” from the American Migraine Foundation, stress can cause migraine, chronic pain creates more stress—and so the cycle continues. And, to add insult to injury, if your body is accustomed to constant stress, a weekend off can result in a “let down” migraine when your stress abruptly lowers. Not exactly a win-win for those living with migraine. Here are some tips for how to manage stress.
Hack #3: Wear sunglasses indoors
Photophobia, or light sensitivity, is very commonly associated with migraine and can exacerbate the pain tremendously. Sunglasses can shield your eyes from bright light both indoors and outdoors, while some sunglasses can filter blue-tinted light (the most painful hue emitted by most screens) and provide some relief. Christy shared that she turns down the brightness on all her devices, while another member wears sunglasses all the time, despite the “weird looks” some people give her. If you think that sensitivity to light could be enhancing your migraine, this article provides an overview of photophobia and suggests solutions to help patients build their light tolerance and cope with their symptoms in natural and artificial light.
Hack #4: Avoid Odors
Many people report that strong smells, whether it be a colleague’s cologne or a fragrant dish, can trigger attacks. One member, Wendy, shared that she keeps a pill box with coffee beans in her purse to help neutralize odors, while AMF Instagram follower Allyson applies peppermint salve beneath her nostrils to ward off trigger scents. Coffee beans are a natural absorbent and peppermint salve can clear the air and also prevent nausea.
The American Migraine Foundation encourages people living with migraine to advocate for themselves and educate their loved ones about migraine to create supportive environments in the long run. Our What to do After the Diagnosis and Migraine at Work guides contain tips on how to talk to your friends and family or colleagues about creating migraine-friendly, odorless spaces. While it can be intimidating to speak out, remember that you deserve to live and work in a environment that doesn’t trigger debilitating pain.
Hack #5: Watch what you eat
Food triggers are common for many people living with migraine. Learning about common triggers and keeping a food diary can help patients narrow down their potential triggers. Champika shared in the Move Against Migraine support group that her headache disappeared after she reduced her dairy intake. While there are common culprits, everyone’s food triggers are different and we recommend using our meal planning toolkit to plan your diet around your migraine.
If you find these migraine hacks helpful or want to add your own to the discussion, join our Move Against Migraine support community. Our members not only share advice and help one another, but also serve as a support pillar and listening ear. Join our community today.