16:46 PM

Get Ahead of Migraine Pain

Some headaches are a pain, but mild enough that they will resolve quickly. On the other hand, some headaches can take over your life. “People often tell themselves: ‘Everybody gets headaches. I’ll just take something over the counter and try to live with it,’” says board-certified neurologist Sowmya Lakshminarayanan, MD, with Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Pocono. She is also board-certified in vascular neurology and sleep medicine.

For headaches that won’t go away on their own and appear on an all-too-frequent basis, you need medical attention. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, chronic migraine headaches can get worse over time. “Nobody needs to suffer in pain,” Lakshminarayanan says.

Here’s how to manage migraine pain so you can feel better more quickly.

Know the signs

Meet Our Expert

Sowmya Lakshminarayanan, MD

View Profile

With a migraine, you’re likely to experience a recurrent throbbing headache, often on one side of your head, Lakshminarayanan says. The pain can be so severe that it can keep you from going to work or school. It’s often coupled with nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and noise. Movement can make migraine pain worse.

Before a migraine, an aura may clue you in that the headache is coming. An aura is characterized by flashes or shimmering lights, along with numbness or weakness on one side of your body.

Avoiding triggers

If you’re prone to migraines, you can adjust your lifestyle to help keep migraines at bay.

migraines at bay. Certain triggers can set off a migraine, such as lack of sleep, meal skipping, mental stress, and consuming specific foods and beverages, like aged cheese, red wine, alcohol and caffeine.

“Dehydration can also bring on a migraine,” she says, so it’s important to drink plenty of water. Hormonal changes in connection with menstruation, pregnancy or menopause may trigger migraines too.

Prevention is key

If you experience frequent migraine headaches despite adjusting your lifestyle, ask your physician or provider about taking medication to prevent them. Preventive medicine can be more effective and safer than treating a migraine after it occurs, says Lakshminarayanan.

A variety of prescription medications are available, such as propranolol (a beta blocker originally prescribed for heart conditions), amitriptyline (an antidepressant), and gabapentin (a seizure medication). These medications were originally designed for other conditions, but physicians now use them to prevent migraine. Treatment will be tailored to your symptoms and your ability to tolerate the medication.

Need Migraine Care? Call 888-402-LVHN (5846).