A World of Hurt: How to Deal with Migraines


Steady, throbbing pain in your head.  Sensitivity to light and sound.  Nausea, and maybe vomiting.  If these symptoms sound familiar, you’ve probably suffered from a migraine headache.  The symptoms can be so miserable, it’s no wonder that doctors and patients refer to them as migraine “attacks.”

Nearly one in five Americans experience migraine headaches, and they are more common in women than in men.   The pain of a migraine usually comes on gradually.  Some people experience an “aura.”  No, that’s not a lovely glow; it’s the changes in vision, tingling limbs, or numbness that comes before a headache.  Migraines typically last a few hours, although some people experience them for an excruciatingly long time (up to 72 hours!).

There’s a looooong list of things that can provoke migraines.  Some of them are pretty common in college life:  chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, changes in sleeping patterns, skipping meals, irregular physical activity, oral contraceptives, and stress.  I don’t know about you, but most of my friends are exposed to at least one of those triggers while school is in session.

If you experience symptoms of migraine headaches, read on for a few things you can do to figure out what might be causing your headaches and how to make them feel better.

* Get familiar with the full list of triggers over at the Mayo Clinic website, and try to avoid them, if you can.  Talk to a counselor at CWS or another professional about developing a work-life balance that allows you to get a good amount of sleep, exercise, and avoid skipping meals.
* Keep a headache diary.  Write down how long your headache lasted, how bad the pain was, what you ate that day, what you were doing when the headache started, and how much you slept.  You can do this on your phone with an app (like iHeadache for iPhone, iPad, and Blackberry).
* When you feel a headache starting, try taking the recommended dose of an over-the-counter pain reliever, like ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
* Laying down in a dark, quiet room helps many people feel better when they have migraine headaches.

If you’re taking a pain reliever more than once or twice per week, or if the over-the-counter stuff can’t touch the pain, talk to your doctor. There are prescription medications you can take when you feel a headache coming on.  If you have more than four migraines per month, or if they last more than 12 hours, your doctor might recommend starting you on a daily medication that can stop the headaches before they start.

This info comes from my favorite website for medical info: Up to Date.  Read more about this topic by searching there for “migraine.”

If you want to talk to a medical professional at Campus Health Services, our phone number is 919-966-2281.

2 thoughts on “A World of Hurt: How to Deal with Migraines

  1. Billy Waters March 13, 2013 / 12:28 am

    Cluster headache sufferers typically experience severe headaches of a piercing quality near one eye or temple that last for fifteen minutes to three hours.The headaches are usually unilateral and occasionally change sides.”

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