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Headaches and Migraines

There’s sometimes nothing worse than a banging headache. Severe headaches can just come from no-where, but migraines have characteristic symptoms and many sufferers get a warning sign known as an aura. This visual disturbance can be flashing lights, zig zags or blind spots, along with difficulty speaking, tingling face and hands and muscle weakness.

Although severe headaches and migraines can run in the family try keeping a food and symptom diary for a few weeks to see if there are any triggers.

A headache diary can help you determine what these triggers are, and it can also help you and your doctor monitor the effectiveness of treatments. Being able to review a record of things done, eaten, experienced, and felt during the 24 hours prior to the onset of a migraine can teach you a great deal about your personal triggers. Some people find specific foods, such as chocolate, citrus and some nuts can cause an attack. Also caffeine can trigger an attack. I find that when I don’t have one coffee a day I get severe headaches, and this is due to me having too much in the past and I have slowly had to decrease my daily intake. Look at other factors too, such as lack of sleep, not enough exercise or hormonal changes.

Some people appear to be more susceptible to having migraines than others. The age range for migraines is around 10 to 40, with those aged 50 and over tending to suffer much less from migraines. Women are three times more likely to have a migraine than men (with the thought that estrogen may trigger migraines), and migraines seem to run in families, with over half those suffering from migraines also having close relatives with migraines.

One of the worst culprits for causing headaches though is dehydration. I have discussed this in past articles and something I am constantly reminding clients about. When you dehydrate, the body takes fluid from the blood stream and body tissues. The blood vessels constrict and a headache starts. Ladies should be consuming at least 1.6 litres a day and men 2 litres per day.

If you do suffer then make sure you are eating foods rich in magnesium as this may help the blood flow to the brain. Foods such as pulses, nuts and seeds, avocados, dairy, meat and whole grains are the best. The final way of beating a headache or migraine is by trying to just relax. Switch of your phone, emails and other distractions at night have a good nourishing meal and get into a good sleeping pattern each night.

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