Whether or not you take preventive medications, you may benefit from lifestyle changes that can help reduce the number and severity of migraines. One or more of these suggestions of migraine prevention that may be helpful for you:
- Avoid triggers. If certain foods seem to have triggered your migraines in the past, avoid those foods. If certain scents are a problem, try to avoid them. In general, establish a daily routine with regular sleep patterns and regular meals. In addition, try to control stress.
- Exercise regularly. Regular aerobic exercise reduces tension and can help prevent migraines. If your doctor agrees, choose any aerobic exercise you enjoy, including walking, swimming, and cycling. Warm up slowly, however, because sudden, intense exercise can cause headaches. Obesity is also thought to be a factor in migraine headaches, and regular exercise can help you keep your weight down.
- Reduce the effects of estrogen. If you’re a woman who has migraines and estrogen seems to trigger or make your headaches worse, you may want to avoid or reduce the medications you take that contain estrogen. These medications include birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy. Talk with your doctor about the best alternatives or dosages for you.
Self-care measures can help ease the pain of a migraine headache.
- Try muscle relaxation exercises. Progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and yoga don’t require any equipment. You can learn them in classes or at home using books or tapes. Or spend at least a half-hour each day doing something you find relaxing — listening to music, gardening, taking a hot bath or reading.
- Get enough sleep, but don’t oversleep. The average adult needs six to eight hours of sleep a night. It’s best to go to bed and wake up at regular times, as well.
- Rest and relax. If possible, rest in a dark, quiet room when you feel a headache coming on. Place an ice pack wrapped in a cloth on the back of your neck and apply gentle pressure to painful areas on your scalp.
- Keep a headache diary. Continue keeping your headache diary even after you see your doctor. It will help you learn more about what triggers your migraines and what treatment is most effective.