Migraine is more than just a bad headache. With over 45 million sufferers in the USA alone, migraines have a substantial impact on both personal and working life. One in 10 people suffer with migraine, of which nearly 75% are women. In business, migraines account for approximately 57 million working days of absenteeism, costing the economy almost $65 billion when added to medical expenses. In hospital emergency rooms, the majority of patients seen there are because of migraine complaints.

The typical migraine headache is one-sided, pulsating & lasts from 4 to 72 hours. Stress can be a major factor in sufferers. Symptoms can include:

A. Classic Migraine (with aura*):
1. Visual disturbances (blind spots, flashing lights, zigzag patterns).
2. Confusion, inability to concentrate.
3. Problems with coordination, tingling, ‘pin-&-needle’ sensations.
4. Numbness on the affected side.

*These symptoms (aka aura) are most often identified with migraine but only about 10-15% of sufferers experience them.

B. Common Migraine (without aura):
1. Intense throbbing headache, often on one side of the head only.
2. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (any or combined).
3. Increased sensitivity to light, sounds, smells.

Migraine triggers include:
1. Environmental Factors – Pollution.
2. Dietary Factors: {Many foods cause migraines!} Chocolate, dairy products, alcohol, peanuts & other nuts, avocado, banana, citrus, onions, fermented or pickled foods, excess caffeine, foods containing tyramine (red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken livers, figs, some beans), monosodium glutamate (MSG), nitrates (like bacon, hot dogs, lunch meats). Even not eating enough food!
3. Hormonal Factors – Menstruation, High Blood Pressure, Toothache or Sinus Problems. {75% of adult migraine sufferers are women.}
4. Emotional Factors – Tension, Stress, Anxiety
5. Physical Factors – Travel, Exertion, Lack of Sleep

A major study published in the Journal of Neurology has helped explain the reason behind a higher risk of stroke among migraine sufferers. Researchers view people who suffer from migraines at a higher risk for blood clots, specifically in their legs. It is believed that migraine is also a risk factor for blood clot in veins, even though it is has no association with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

It behooves you to find a therapist who treats migraines and a migraine support group (try Google, Yahoo). Speak with others experiencing the same problems. Although there is no miracle cure for migraine, it is possible to bring the condition under control. If you’re sensitive or allergic to something, you must be willing to give it up!

There are a wide range of treatments available which can be very effective. A lot of people treat their migraine with pain killers purchased at a pharmacy or prescribed by their doctor. Many sufferers feel dependent on such medications & appreciate the availability of non-drug alternatives like these:
•Suggested therapies include techniques encouraging relaxation (naturopathic: especially soft-tissue techniques, herbal remedies, homeopathy, ear-acupuncture, meditation, reduced light intensities, reflexology, and aromatherapy).

Confused? Questions? Email: drhow1@earthlink.net

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Sadowsky is a Naturopathic Physician and also holds a Doctorate in the Chinese Classics of Internal Medicine. He is a Founder of the American Academy of Acupuncture Medicine (né: NAAAMAR), a Founder of the International Neijing Society and is active as a speaker, tutor, and author of Integrative Therapy Manuals, Medical Texts, New Age Books and Journal articles. He is published internationally in 32 countries.