Thursday, November 03, 2005

Inside the Big Migraine Bubble

As some of you already know, I'm prone to getting migraines, long hard completely debilitating headaches. Beth by far has seen the most of it, I've been laid up more than once on her couch all day. And Kel and Matt, you've seen some pretty bad ones too. Since I've been getting more headaches than usual lately, I've been doing a lot of research to learn more about triggers, prevention and remedies to help me in my quest to never have one of these headaches again. HA. Now medical science is happy to provide a list of "possible triggers" that you should learn to avoid if you are prone to migraines. The problem is that it included just about everything in the free world.

For those of you who have never had a migraine, here's what it feels like. Imagine the first hour of a hangover. The pounding headache, the dehydration, the nausea, the blurred vision. The feeling that you are going to die. Now imagine having that for 12-18 hours straight. That's a migraine.

So here's what I've found in searching for lists of triggers:

Avoid certain foods including: cheese, beer, wine, pickeled herring, chicken liver, yeast, coffee, beans, citrus fruits, bananas, eggs, spinach and tomatoes. Okay - so what is there left to eat? Geez.

Avoid chocolate. So I can't drink alcohol or have chocolate? Talk about giving up all your vices...

Migraines can be caused by caffeine withdrawal. That's great - so I could try to do something good for myself by cutting down my caffeine intake - and I'll be rewarded with a big whopping headache. That's great.

Avoid nitrates. Okay here's more foods we can't have. Hot dogs and other cured meats like bacon, ham and salami contain nitrates. Beets, lettuce, celery, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and potatoes contribute the largest portion of nitrate to our daily diet.

Avoid aspartame if you already have a headache. f you already have a headache, and if you consume anything containing aspartame (artificial sweeteners like Sugar Free, Diet Coke, Equal), you might get a migraine. Swell.

Just in case you thought we could eat out - MSG is also a migraine trigger. this has been linked to the frequent use of MSG in some Asian foods. There are reports of flushing, tingling, dizziness and headache. It is also generally found in frozen foods, canned soups, salad dressings, processed meats, sauces and snack foods. Awesome, more food I need to avoid.

Skipping meals - this is actually a big one for me. Even though there aren't any foods I can eat, if I skip a meal - even have one a few hours late, I get a migraine.

Now migraines aren't only triggered by food. Here's a list of other extracurricular crap that may set me off:

Light - Strong or glaring light. Flickering lights from TV or computer screen, strobe or laser lights, or reflections. So according to this, working, writing, watching TV or clubbing can set me off.

Smells/Odors - Intense, specific food odors, cigarette or other smoke, perfumes, cleaning products. Okay - avoid people cooking, smoking, wearing perfume and cleaning. And I shouldn't do any of those things myself. Sure!

Stress - Migraine attacks often occur after stress - especially on weekends and holidays. Many people mistake these as tension headaches. Yeah, cause stress is something we're all good at eliminating.

Weather changes - High humidity, atmospheric pressure changes, rapid temperature fluctuations, and exposure to extreme heat or cold may bring on migraine attacks. Many people mistake these for "sinus headaches. Okay, don't go outside when its hot, don't hike in the mountains, don't fly from NY to Florida in the winter, and don't climb Everest or spend any time in the Mojave desert. Got it.

So there you have it folks. To avoid future migraines I should basically isolate myself in the dark, in an odorless room, and be fed intravenously. Sounds great!


Anonymous drapo said...

Avoid the problem altogether by putting yourself into a self-induced coma.

4:31 PM  

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