National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month

You feel the pain coming on, starting out as a dull ache. Then all of a sudden, your head feels like a thousand pounds with pain that feels like brain freeze times a hundred. The pain changes from throbbing to pulsing, like a heartbeat in your head. Sometimes the pain will be on one side, front or back of your head, or all over. Soon noise, talking, light, and smells bother you. At that time, you know all you need is a quiet, dark room to rest. This pain can last for a few hours or a few days. Sound familiar? This is what having a migraine feels like. I suffer from migraines and headaches and trust me. They are one of the worst things to go through. You never know when they are going to happen. For me, any little thing can trigger a small or big migraine. Some triggers can be heat, hunger, and the weather. For others, symptoms include flashing lights, tingling, and blurry vision.

The medical definition of a migraine is a severe headache with possible warning symptoms. Along with my triggers, others include hormonal changes, stress, exercise, and foods and drinks. According to Medline Plus, about 12 percent of the US population has them, and the pain can range from moderate to severe. Also, they are three times more common in women than in men. Migraines and headaches are believed to be caused by changes in the brain and how it interacts with the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway. Also, imbalances in the brain chemicals can play a part. During a migraine, a person’s serotonin levels drop. Serotonin helps control pain in the nervous system. When their levels drop, the trigeminal nerve releases neuropeptides, which cause migraine pain.

To raise awareness and support for migraine and headache research, June has been titled “National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month.” Since 1970, the National Headache Foundation has been promoting the awareness of migraines and headaches as neurobiological diseases. To help with this mission, the awareness month was created. Each year, the month is given a theme to focus on. During this time, medical communities and individuals throughout the United States will hold fundraising campaigns for research for migraine and headache research. Also, you can show your support by raising funds and displaying the purple ribbon for headache and migraine awareness. For this month, the National Headache Foundation’s motto is “show purple, show support.” According to their website, their goal is to “raise awareness of this disease and to cure headache and end its pain and suffering through advocacy, education and research.”

When it comes to easing the pain of migraines and headaches, there are many treatment options. Medications, prescribed and over the counter, are available. Other options include acupuncture, muscle relaxation therapies, and self-care. With self-care, monitoring the food you eat, as well as your stress levels and amount of exercise, can help prevent or ease migraine pain. In addition, some remedies include taking 200-600 mg of magnesium per day. Magnesium can either be taken in pills or can be absorbed through magnesium-rich foods, such as meats, whole grains, and dairy. Also, try going gluten-free, but listen to your body to see how well you are dealing without eating gluten. Essential oils and herbs have calming elements that ease headache tension. Peppermint oil, lavender oil, and butterbur are a few examples of essential oils and herbs to use. Also, a detox bath helps relieve headache pain by getting rid of toxins in your body that make you sick. All you have to do is sit in a warm bath, and as the water cools, the toxins will be released from your body. Lastly, one of the best things you can do to prevent and ease migraine and headache pain is to stay hydrated. Coffee and sugary drinks can leave you dehydrated, causing a migraine. Drink as much water as you can throughout the day and include high-water content fruits and vegetables in your diet.

For those who suffer from migraines and headaches, I feel your pain, literally. If you don’t suffer, you might have family members and friends who deal with migraine and headache pain. Take time during this month to familiarize yourself with the symptoms, treatments, and ways to raise awareness for those who do suffer.