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My Head is Hurting

Sometimes it might start with a little nausea or street lights becoming too bright and unbearable. Or perhaps, noise levels that were unnoticeable a minute ago, are now too loud. Then it hits. The pain in your head multiplies and all you want to do is run to a room that is dark and quiet. You may be experiencing a migraine headache.

What are migraines? Migraines may start with symptoms such as sensitivity to light or noise, seeing flashing lights or dots, or even as numbness or tingling. These symptoms may last for an hour or so and then a dull pain may throb and increase around the temples or the back and/or the front of your head. Researchers are not too sure what causes migraines but suspect that hormones and low levels of serotonin may play a role.

Who is most likely to get migraines? Migraines affect both males and females but they are more common among females, under the age of 40 years old and if parents suffered from migraines, then a person is more likely to suffer from them.

Can anything be done to prevent them? Learning as much as you can about your headaches is a great way to start handling your migraines. Look for triggers that might cause the head pain. Foods such as cheese and chocolate, or food ingredients such as caffeine, monosodium glutamate or aspartame can trigger headaches. Alcohols such as beer and red wine have been reported as triggering migraines. Weather changes such as extreme heat, skipping meals and stress are also known to cause severe headaches in some people.

Keeping a journal is a great way to help you find migraine triggers. Once triggers have been identified, avoiding them would help reduce them but this may not always be possible. Visiting your physician with your journal may make it easier to find a remedy.

If you need additional information, The National Headache Foundation is a good place to start. There are tools, resources, fact sheets and FAQs to help you understand migraines and what to do about them. Instead of suffering from migraines, learn as much as you can and get help.

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About Pamela A. Williams, MPH, R.D.

Pamela A. Williams, MPH, R.D.

is a dietitian in Southern California.

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