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Articles > Take charge of your chronic migraines!

Take charge of your chronic migraines!

If frequent migraines are wreaking havoc on your work and family life, take heart: The latest treatments and lifestyle changes can help you feel better than ever.

Provided by HealthMonitor

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For years, Mira Tzur, 41, would wake up with an unwelcome surprise: a migraine. "I would lie in bed with an ice pack and massage my temples," recalls the actress and producer in New York City. "I couldn't start my day until it was over." Anything from stress and a lack of sleep to hot weather and an extra glass of wine could set off her headaches, which struck two to three times a week. "I was like a walking zombie," recalls Mira, who has a 14-year-old son. "I was going through the motions of being a mom.'

What is Chronic Migraine?
For migraine sufferers like Mira, life-disrupting symptoms like head pain and nausea last indefinitely. The condition is called Chronic Migraine, and it's diagnosed when you experience head pain on 15 or more days a month for at least three months in a row. It's far more debilitating than an occasional, or episodic, migraine. "An episodic migraine has a beginning and an end," says Roger K. Cady, MD, founder and medical director of the Headache Care Center in Springfield, MO. "When it ends, a person's nervous system returns to normal." With Chronic Migraine, the nervous system has less time to recover between headaches, so you may never feel completely pain free.

Who's at risk?
Anyone who has a family history of Chronic Migraine or suffers from episodic migraine is at risk. And the more frequent your migraines, the more vulnerable you are, since they can cause your nervous system to become more sensitive. Gender also plays a role, as the condition is more common among women. Being overweight matters, too'having a body mass index of 30 or above means you have five times the risk of Chronic Migraine compared to people of normal weight, according to a National Institute of Aging study. Other factors include depression, anxiety and being overly sensitive to pain.

Finding your path to relief
Conquering Chronic Migraine usually requires a combination of medication and lifestyle changes, such as getting enough shut-eye, limiting caffeine intake to no more than 200 mg (the amount in about 10 ounces of coffee) and monitoring use of pain medications. Sound like a lot to juggle? Take heart! By working closely with your healthcare provider and having patience, you can find the combination that makes a difference for you.

The strategy certainly paid off for Mira, who sought the help of a physician when her usual standbys'over-the-counter and naturopathic remedies'no longer brought relief for her migraines. Making matters worse, her headaches started to occur with alarming frequency. Seeking medical help was the best thing she ever did. Her doctor prescribed an injectable medication that worked wonders. "It changed my life," says Mira, who gets the injections every six months. "Now I only get migraines once in a blue moon.'

It helps that she does everything she can to avoid her triggers'especially stress. That means sticking to a sleep schedule, getting regular massages and going to twice-weekly yoga classes. Research backs up her approach: A recent study published in the Journal of Pain Management shows that yoga not only helps ease migraine pain, it also helps you overcome anxiety about any headaches.

Other approaches that have helped Mira keep tension at bay include biofeedback, in which you learn to control your body's response to stress, and acupuncture, an ancient Chinese therapy in which needles are placed in certain areas of the body to restore balance. "It helps relax you," she says. A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that acupuncture cut in half the number of migraines patients experienced.

Getting the most out of life
Strengthening her circle of support has also made a difference for Mira. The more family, friends and co-workers understand about your migraines, the less vulnerable you'll be to feelings of guilt, anxiety and depression, she says.

Today, Mira couldn't be happier. Since starting her new treatment, everything has fallen into place. She says, "I wake up excited for life!'
Anxiety Myasthenia Gravis Obesity Anxiety Balance Depression Dry Heaves Guilt Headache Insomnia Nausea Pain Pain, Head Stress Throwing Up Migraine Depression

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