Its headache time. School has started and people are back to work. This is the time in which migraine headache occurrence rises in the population and in youths especially.
I read with interest today an article by Tara Parker Pope in the Well section of the Science Timesbecause my second son has had migraines since he was a young child. He used to burst out in tear at the age of 4 and 5 saying his head hurt really bad. Many times we were able to relieve these headaches with over the counter pain killers however what I did not realize (and I am a physician) is that he was having classic migraines. First his pediatrician felt he had seasonal allergies (he does have a relative mild case of those) and we treated him with Zyrtec and Claritin. the headaches continued and as he got to his teen years he was able to verbalize what was happening and he would say ” I am getting a migraine” as he would have the aura (the weird feeling before the headache) and nausea and well as seeing scintillating scotomas (the lightening flashes that many patients have prior to onset of the actual headache that brought so many patients to my office in my past days as an ophthalmologist). There are also ophthalmic migraines in which the aura, flashes and nausea occurs without the headache.
Now as I read this article I felt it left out some very important items. The article mentioned virtually nothing about prevention of migraine attacks other than pharmaceuticals. Do we really want to medicate our children with often very strong and toxic drugs when there are other modes that may work very well? i understand that sometimes there are few alternatives but let’s consider it. As my son has suffered, no one ever really suggested any other therapies before I began the search foralternatives for migraine treatment.
So let me give you some ideas as to things you can do if your child and/or you have migraines. I do not some people who have been cured rather than just having medicines that control or decrease the symptoms and occurrences. Isn’t that what we all want?
Acupuncture has worked wonders for many people. Placebo-effect or not it is quite affective for pain relief and sometimes cure of migraines. Biofeedback has been also shown to be effective. Chiropractic treatments can be another route however I recommend that you use a n0n-force Chiropractor as some other techniques can cause harm (I personally seen patients with arterial dissections in their necks secondary to a Chiropractic crack). Massage therapies have also shown much promise in migraine treatment.
Herbal therapies in the form of capsules and/or teas have shown a lot of promise. Try feverfew, peppermint, ginger, passionflower, ginko biloba, cayenne, white willow bark. Many of these herbs have the medical research behind them that prove their effectiveness and they are quite gentle on the body. Ginger and pepermint are epsecially great as they lend themsleves well to a great tasting tea.
Since migraines are triggered many times by stress and lack of sleep, use chamomile and lavender teas which aid sleep and relaxation and are both caffeine free as caffeine can be a migraine trigger. I encourage you to drink more water also as dehydration is a powerful trigger to all kinds of headaches.
Use an entire wellness plan to decrease the occurrence of migraines by avoiding alcoholic beverages, aged cheeses, aspartame, high doses of caffeine (more than 1 cup of coffee a day), MSG, processed foods. Eat at regular intervals as this is what need to happen to keep our internal sugar levels in balance. Skipping meals moves you out of balance and triggers headaches (Many of us have had hunger headaches but these occur much more with a high carbohydrate diet. You may know it as the Carb Crash).
Eating meals regularly throughout the day which include whole non processed food and drinking plenty of water also contributes to improved sleeping patterns. Encourage a regular bedtime in your children. So what if they miss a bit of their homework. Isn’t their health more important than that homework grade? If they are in school with a headache, they are not learning effectively at all.
On this note, schools need to decrease the amount of homework given to children. I know in my life I absolutely hated all the days I had to sit up yelling at my sons when we were all tired and hungry. I was mad that we had little family time which was stress-free because of the loads of homework which added little to their academic achievement. Do you hear me schools of America? Is it really necessary to give elementary students 2 hours of homework a night after a long day at school? And I see high schoolers regularly with 4-5 hours of work a night. Of course we are not having meals together as a family. No one has time to sit down and enjoy each other with the stress of work due the next day. On comes the migraines as stress is a potent trigger.
Lifestyle choices can prevent and treat migraines. Let’s try these on our sons and daughter before we give them those strong medicines.