If you suffer from migraine, you are not alone. Thirty-six million Americans, about 12% of the population, suffer from migraine. This means that one in four households has a member with a migraine. Women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men.
According to the American Migraine Foundation: “Migraine is an inherited neurological disorder that is characterized by over excitability of specific areas of the brain. Although we do not clearly understand how a migraine brain is different or what happens in the brain to start a migraine, we know that individuals with migraine are more susceptible to the influence of transient factors, termed “triggers” that raise the risk for having a migraine attack. These triggers include hormonal fluctuations; environmental stimuli like weather or bright lights, certain smells, alcohol, certain foods, poor sleep, and high stress. Not everyone has a clear trigger for their migraine attacks.”
If you are susceptible to migraine, there are things you can do to avoid the triggers that can induce them during your workday:
1. Allow yourself 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
2. Eat a good breakfast to start your day, and take the time to eat a healthy lunch. Do not skip meals.
3. Limit your intake of processed foods, sodium, and carbonated and caffeinated drinks.
4. Dehydration can trigger migraine attacks, so be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated during your workday.
5. Manage stressful work situations by practicing deep breathing or other relaxation techniques, including taking short breaks to stretch your legs and get some fresh air.
6. Avoid marathon sessions staring at you computer screen. Eyestrain can trigger migraine and headache.
7. Keep a food diary to identify foods or drinks that trigger a migraine attack with 12 – 24 hours after ingestion.
The American Migraine Foundation has identified the following common food triggers for migraine in susceptible individuals:
- Alcohol, specifically red wine
- Aspartame sweetener
- Beans and other tyramine-containing foods
- Caffeine (often found in foods, beverages, and medicines)
- Cheeses and yogurt
- Chinese food or other soups and foods containing MSG
- Processed meats (containing sulfites- e.g., bacon, sausages, salami, ham)
- Vitamins and herbal supplements (some contain caffeine or active ingredients that make
If you experience migraines attacks that negatively impact your work performance, you owe it to yourself to seek medical help. There are prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as non-pharmacological and behavioral treatments available to treat migraine. Visit http://www.americanmigrainefoundation.org for more information.
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