A headache can be a real pain, to put it mildly. Maybe you’re at the office trying to get some important work done or you’re just about to enjoy an afternoon at home when you feel the beginnings of a headache coming on. Your temples start to throb, you can’t bear to look at the bright lights above you, and you feel like maybe you should go lie down.
You hope for the best, but the pain persists and soon you’re suffering from a full-blown migraine. Why does a normal headache turn into a nausea-causing, head-pounding migraine? Researchers think it has to do with some surprisingly significant changes that take place in the brain.
These researchers looked at the brains of people who suffered from migraine with aura—a very painful type of headache that causes visual disturbances—and found some startling data. It turns out that migraine with aura increases your risk of getting brain lesions by about 70%. These lesions are similar to the type that shows up in the brains of older people or those with hypertension.
Doctors refer to these migraines that cause brain lesions as tiny strokes. You aren’t even aware that you have them, they are so small. And, in fact, as alarming as they sound, they are harmless—unless, of course, you regularly suffer from migraines.
This type of migraine also ushered in a nearly 45% increase in risk for a change in brain volume. A change in brain volume means that your brain tissue decreases (or increases, as the case may be). Again, although this sounds very worrisome, your brain goes through normal changes in size as you age. These structural changes in the brain are usually the result of brain cells dying. Migraines can accelerate the rate at which brain cells would normally die over the course of a lifetime. This could affect your cognitive abilities. But there’s some good news here too: the researchers think these negative changes that take place in the brain due to migraines are reversible with the right treatment.
The research team thinks one of the best ways to prevent a migraine is by eating foods that help to get enough blood and nutrients to the brain so that tissue loss is minimized. You’ll also want to avoid any foods that seem to trigger migraines. Here are four natural ways to prevent migraines:
1. Keep a journal
Keeping a journal will help track down these culprits. Make note of when they occur, how long they persist, and potential triggers (food you ate, temperature, light conditions etc.)
Exercise helps to relieve stress and muscular tension—two big contributing factors for migraines.
3. Get enough magnesium
It’s important to get enough magnesium into your diet. Many headache sufferers are low in this mineral which plays a role in helping your muscles to relax.
4. Take time to unwind after a busy day
Statistics show that migraines tend to occur on weekends or days off. Why? Adrenaline protects blood vessels against migraines. When you suddenly stop a busy schedule, your blood vessels are no longer protected and your chances for getting a migraine increase. Learn some relaxation techniques and help your body to unwind slowly after a stressful day. The trick is to sooth your muscles and relax your mind. It doesn’t take long—even a few minutes of deep breathing and stretches could help prevent migraines.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Elias, N., “BREAKING: Migraines Change Your Brain 44%,” Prevention News web site; http://www.prevention.com/health/brain-games/breaking-migraines-change-your-brain-44, last accessed Sept. 1, 2013.Kristoffersen, E.S., et al., “Self-reported efficacy of complementary and alternative medicine: the Akershus study of chronic headache,” J Headache Pain. Apr 2013; 14(1): 36.