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Migraine-proof your life!

A few easy and remarkably effective strategies can help you fend off migraines at home, at work and on the road.

Karen Asp

Provided by HealthMonitor

" Do something you love every day'whether it's reading to your kids, playing with your dog or making dinner with your partner. "Building in these little breaks will restore your nervous system and help your brain make "feel-good" chemicals like serotonin and beta endorphins, which can protect against migraines," says Roger K. Cady, MD, founder and medical director of the Headache Care Center in Springfield, MO.

" Hit the sheets regularly. Aim for seven to eight hours of shut-eye each night, and go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. If you have any sleep problems, see your healthcare provider. Studies have found a relationship between disturbed sleep (for instance, waking up frequently throughout the night) and more frequent or severe migraines.

" Eat on a schedule. Be consistent, since skipping meals can trigger migraines. Make sure, too, that you're getting protein and complex carbohydrates at each meal. Protein will prevent blood sugar fluctuations, which can trigger migraines, while complex carbs will prevent your blood sugar from dropping. A migraine-friendly breakfast could include eggs with turkey sausage, fresh fruit and yogurt, or peanut butter on whole-wheat toast.

" Get moving. Aim for about 30 to 40 minutes of exercise daily. Doing housework and walking your dog both count! A recent study found that when migraine sufferers did aerobic exercise for 40 minutes three times a week for three months, the frequency of attacks was reduced by 25% on average. Exercise can also improve your quality of sleep and reduce stress, both of which can help ward off migraines.

" Pretreat. Travel can be difficult for migraine sufferers, since any change in your usual schedule can be a trigger. If travel sets off your headaches, ask your healthcare provider about pretreating with a triptan. Take it about an hour before you leave and perhaps for one to two days afterward, recommends Dr. Cady. If that works, do the same thing on your way home.

" Acclimate to altitude. An altitude change can cause a migraine, so limit exercise and stay hydrated, says Stephen Silberstein, MD, professor of neurology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

" Get comfortable. Is your desk not the right height for you? Are your feet dangling instead of planted on the floor? If so, make some changes. "If one part of your body hurts, your whole body will hurt, which could bring on a migraine," says Dr. Silberstein.

" Cut down on glare. The light on your computer screen could trigger a migraine. Consider installing an anti-glare screen on your computer.

" Create a focal point. Put a photograph, small object or something that holds meaning to you in your office. Make a point of looking at it several times a day. Take a few deep breaths, which will decrease your stress level and help you avoid migraines, says Dr. Cady.

" Check the lighting. Flashing or fluorescent lights can be a pain! If the lighting in your office can't be changed, consider wearing shades with polarized lenses, says Dr. Silberstein. And if you're sitting near a window, you'll need to lower the blinds or wear sunglasses.
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