Women, Headaches and Migraines
Thirty percent of women will suffer from migraines during their lifetime. To be diagnosed with migraines your headache must be recurring, moderate to severe in intensity, pulsating, unilateral and last between 4-72 hours. Other minor signs of a migraine include sensitivity to light, sounds and smells, nausea and/or vomiting and a desire to be still.
What is a Migraine?
Migraines in women are often triggered by hormones and/or stress. Migraine frequency and severity often increases around periods of significant hormone fluctuations, such as the onset of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy (especially in the first trimester and after delivery) and during menopause. Stress factors in as a major migraine trigger as demands on American women are very high. Many women are balancing a full-time job, children and running a household. Therefore, migraines often co-exist with conditions such as anxiety, depression and/or insomnia in women.
How to avoid migraines?
It is important to make sure you are doing things that commonly reduce stress such as getting enough sleep, exercising and eating healthy. It is also a good idea to cut back on alcohol and caffeine consumption, and if you smoke, stop.
Fortunately, there are treatment options for women suffering from migraines. Depending on the triggers of the migraines, treatment must be individualized to each patient, and often involves a combination of medications and lifestyle modifications. Reducing stress, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly or avoiding food triggers are lifestyle modifications you can make yourself that can make an impact on the number of migraines you have. When lifestyle changes aren’t enough, your doctor may recommend other treatment such as: hormone therapy, over the counter medication, doctor prescribed medication or Botox injections.
If you or someone you know is experiencing migraine symptoms, and over-the-counter medicines are no longer working, it is time to seek the help of a headache specialist.
About the Author
Karen Teague-Clark, PA specializes in treating women of all ages suffering from headaches, including migraines and tension headaches at Cone Health Centers for Women’s Healthcare and Kernersville