20 Common Diseases: Migraine Headaches

“ I get nauseous whenever i suffer from migraine headaches. I will be out of action for 2 to 3 day. Although the pain starts to subside after the third day, my body still aches faintly as if i have suffered a serious attack…”. This is the experience of migraine headache sufferers. Migraine may be triggered when one suffers from chronic ailment, or it may signal to a worsening condition of other related ailments. Migraine headache is an intermittent disorder with hereditary traits; the pain can be accompanied by nauseating sensations, vomiting and may recur from time to time. The pain subsides after sleep or quiet moment in the dark. Sufferers may also encounter impairments of neurological and mental functions before and during headaches.

Migraine headaches occur mostly in the day but could also strike at night. The pain occurs mainly at the side of the head but there are cases where pain locations may vary, such as at the back and top of head. Sufferers also complain of facial and neck pains. The headache intensifies with time and the pain peaks from a few minutes to 1-2 hours, which may persist for hours or even days before subsiding.

The causes of migraine headaches are still unclear, but it can be associated with:

Hereditary factors
About 60% of such cases are hereditary; the patients may have family members who suffer from epilepsy. Though this aliment may be inherited, its pattern still undefined.

Hormonal factors
Migraine attributed to vascular disorder is common in females in puberty. The problem reduces or vanishes after menopause. Headaches are frequent during menstrual periods but stop during pregnancy, and recur after childbirth. Hormonal factor is clearly one of the causes of migraine.

Dietetic factors
Migraine headaches are closely related to diet. If one habitually consumes dairy products, chocolates, stimulant food, alcohol or cold drinks, they may develop migraine.

Other factors
Anxiety, emotional hurt, stress, hunger, insomnia, external head injuries, over exhaustion, blasting noise, undesirable environment and weather changes may lead to migraine headaches.

Western medicine use painkillers and preventive drugs to treat migraine headaches. Most long-term sufferers turn to Chinese medicine when their condition does not improve. Chinese medicine attributes the causes of headaches and migraine to vein blockage and fundamental treatment principle is to reduce the frequency and kill the pain. External treatment utilizes the method of expelling exogenous pathogenic factors and activating the collaterals, while those with internal injuries require nourishment.

As migraines are intermittent, it is important to prevent relapses after treatment. Patients with the symptoms mentioned below should engage in prevention treatment:

  • Pain occurs more than twice a month
  • Pain persists for more than 24 hours
  • Extreme, severe pain that does not subside after intensive treatment
  • Prolonged symptoms of leading to migraine headaches ( Complicated Migraine )

Beside keeping a positive attitude, here are some tips to help prevent or reduce the frequency of migraine headaches:

  • Have sufficient sleep
  • Maintain a balanced diet
  • Engage in sport to keep the body healthy
  • Refrain from smoking alcohol or stimulating foods
  • Engage in activities like listening to music help to reduce work-related stress
  • Maintain a systematic lifestyle and regular meals

According to statistics, about 25% of all migraine headaches are triggered by food. The following have been proven to cause migraine headaches: alcohol, avocado, smoked meat, bananas, lentils, ficus carica, cheese, chicken liver, chocolates, tangerines, coffee, monosodium glutamate, dried fruits, sausages, and onions.

Patients require adequate supplement of Vitamins B and C for nutrition and dietotherapy. Foods such as lean meat, whole grains, dairy and legumes are rich in Vitamins B1 and B6. Deficiency of magnesium due to choosy eating habits may also lead to migraine headaches. Hence, one should maintain a balanced diet, stop being picky about food, and consume more food that are rich in magnesium, such as vegetables, fruits, wheat, buckwheat noodles, soybeans, broad beans, peas, as well as red mustard greens, mushrooms, seaweed, walnuts, longans, peaches and peanuts.

Dietotherapy is a proactive remedy for migraine sufferers, not only does it achieve curative effects, certain food even possess nutritional values that maintains brain function. Dietotherapy for migraine headaches mainly emphasizes on clearing heat in the liver, strengthening the spleen, circulating energy and invigorating blood flow. Hence, dietotherapy helps to regulate the yin and yang of the body, and maintains a balance of energy and blood. Traditional ingredients include: Chinese yam, Chinese dates, lentils, barley, sesame, artichoke, mulberry, ginger and spring onions. The diet-therapeutic effects kick in when the foods are consumed.

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