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Suffer from migraines? 7 ways to take back control

Migraines affect one in eight Irish people.

Image: Shutterstock/fizkes

If you suffer from migraines, you are not alone. Migraine is Ireland’s fifth leading cause of disability, affecting almost one in eight people*.

Now, in the wake of COVID-19, navigating the new ‘normal’ brings its challenges, including common migraine triggers such as stress, anxiety, food and drastic change of routine, all of which are likely to be heightened during this time. 

Here are 7 simple tips and actions to help you to manage your migraine during this uncertain period. 

1. Keep a migraine diary

Ensure you keep a migraine dairy that records the specific details of each of your migraine attacks. It can help to identify your triggers so you can take steps to prevent them before they happen.

2. Pace yourself

Plan out your days and try to stick to your usual routine as much as possible – wake-up, eat and go to sleep at the times you are used to doing so. Whether you’re now working from home or are managing with having the kids home from school, make sure to take regular breaks and don’t forget to save yourself some ‘me-time.’ Getting a good night’s rest is really important too as too much or too little sleep could trigger a migraine attack.

3. Stay hydrated!

Dehydration leads to increased tiredness and fatigue, which can prompt an attack. While most of us acknowledge the concept of drinking six to eight glasses of water each day, the truth of the matter is that many of us don’t follow through on it. Having more time on your hands may make it easier to track your hydration levels throughout the day.

4. Limit your screen time

This may be easier said than done perhaps – but heightened exposure to news and/or social media during this difficult time could take a toll on our mental health. While it is important to stay well-informed, choose your sources of news and information carefully and be sure to allocate times to switch off completely from online life. If light is something that triggers your migraine too, minimising exposure to blue-light rays from screens is very important.

5. Stay active

Remember that getting some fresh air, whether it be on a walk or even in the
comfort of your own garden, is important in maintaining a clear mind and reducing stress levels. If you can’t get out, you may find using at-home exercise equipment works for you or check out the wide choice of free exercise classes that are available online.

6. Check your medication

Make sure you have enough to hand without stockpiling unnecessary supplies.

7. Identify your potential migraine triggers

Make a conscious effort to avoid stimulants such as loud noises and bright lights, and pay attention to your food and drink choices. Keep a migraine diary to track what triggers your migraines. This can help you see a pattern in your migraine occurrences and will make avoiding one easier. Migraine diaries are available through the Migraine Association of Ireland or by downloading the free Migraine Buddy app. Other supports and resources are available on www.speakyourmigraine.ie or from the Migraine Association’s website www.migraine.ie.

*Vos T, et al. Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 310 diseases and injuries, 1990–2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. The Lancet, volume 388, issue 10053, 8 – 14 October 2016, pages 1545 – 1602.

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