Stress tops the list of factors shown to trigger migraines. Dr. Richard Firshein, a leading authority in the fields of Integrative, Anti-Aging, and Precision-Based Medicine, works closely with you to diagnose your condition, manage the frequency and severity of your attacks, and diminish your pain via medication and alternative approaches, from IV therapy to stress reduction techniques to nutritional counseling.
What causes migraines?
Many doctors believe changes in blood flow within the brain lead to swelling of the blood vessels, which can cause migraines. In women, estrogen fluctuation and oral contraceptives have also been linked to attacks. Additional triggers include:
- Strong smells or bright lights
- Changes in weather
- Foods, such as chocolate and cheese, and food additives
- Alcohol and highly caffeinated beverages
- Getting too much or too little sleep
- Extreme physical exertion
What occurs during a migraine?
Migraines differ from common headaches. They usually affect only one side of the head, are aggravated by movement, and produce symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, sound, and smells, and, usually, intense pain. Triggers, such as stress, can cause an attack. You may experience tingling in your arm or leg, blind spots, and other visual disturbances such as an aura of crescent- or zig-zag-shaped lights covering half or all of your visual field as part of a migraine.
The attack (pain) phase of the migraine can last from a few hours to a few days, if left untreated.
Typical warning signs
The prodrome stage, or pre-migraine, may occur as early as one to two hours or even days before your the full migraine hits. You may experience:
- Visual and mood changes
- Frequent yawning
- Food cravings
- Neck stiffness
Alleviate stress to lessen migraines
One of the major factors thought to cause migraines is stress. Stress kills. Unchecked, it can lead to heart attacks and strokes. It can also lead to debilitating migraines. Dr. Firshein works closely with you to obtain a detailed medical history in order to arrive at a migraine diagnosis. He may also recommend additional screenings, such as blood tests, spinal taps to check for infection or bleeding, or MRI and CT scans to pinpoint irregularities, infections, and other medical problems that may be causing or worsening your symptoms.
Dr. Firshein may suggest relaxation techniques and lifestyle changes, including a healthier diet and increased exercise, to help prevent attacks. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and T’ai Chi may also fend off stress. Simply listening to soothing music, dancing, hiking, jogging, or petting your cat or dog may also do the trick. Additional stress relievers include:
Healthy diet. Consume plenty of fruits, vegetables, heart-healthy proteins, and whole grains will give you more energy to cope with your daily activities.
Good quality sleep. Lack of sleep triggers stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, and that can lead to pain. Try to maintain a consistent bedtime, if possible. Pick a time each night to turn off the television, get unplugged from all your electronic gadgets, and start counting sheep.
Regular tension breaks. Relieve your tension before it becomes overwhelming. Walk or stretch to renew vital energy. Close your eyes and visualize your happy place. Imagine yourself standing beneath a soothing waterfall. Actually swim, take a shower, or bathe. Water provides one of nature’s most healing elements.
Laughing. Migraines are clearly no laughing matter. However, laughter provides one of the best medicines for stress, releasing endorphins – your body’s feel-good molecules – to help you feel better. What could be better than laughing away a potential migraine?
Massage therapy and acupuncture. Massage and acupuncture/acupressure can lower stress by reducing cortisol levels, decreasing anxiety, and increasing feel-good endorphins.
Rest. Close your eyes and relax in a dark room whenever you feel a migraine coming on to reduce its symptoms and severity.
IV therapy improves overall well-being
While the exact causes of your migraine may be unknown, there are a variety of ways to reduce your attacks. Dr. Firshein offers nutritional counseling to help you improve your diet and become aware of the specific foods that may induce migraines. He also provides IV therapy to deliver vital nutrients, antioxidants, and amino acids directly into your bloodstream. This simple, unique therapy can improve your cells’ metabolism while removing toxic, excess metabolic waste. It can also help strengthen your immune system while decreasing stress and fatigue.
To learn more about improving your stress levels and easing migraine pain, call the Firshein Center in New York City at 212-260-0282 or request an appointment online.