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Everyone in the world has had a headache at least once in their life. Some experience them more than others and to a greater degree. But these headaches become more menacing when they are migraines. Migraines are a special kind of headache that affects both men and women equally. But women are more likely to suffer from hormonal migraines than men. You might have heard about migraines and progesterone cream together and other medicinal therapies to get rid of such headaches.
Women undergoing hormonal changes and imbalances often report an increased incidence of migraines. Other lifestyle factors also dictate the incidence of migraines in women. Women can suffer from migraines from changing weather, changes in food, or even changes in physical activity. They can also undergo a special type of migraine called menstrual migraines. It is a simple side effect of women going through monthly hormonal changes.
If you suffer from such migraines and are wondering how to get rid of a hormonal migraine or wondering what lifestyle changes to make to head migraines off, or even thinking of starting on some medication, here is what you should know.
What Is A Migraine?
Migraines are special types of headaches characterized by throbbing pain that is intense and is usually limited to one side of the head. The pain often feels like it is radiating and can be behind your ears or eyes. The headache is often accompanied by sensitivity to light, smell, and even small sounds. The pain can be severe or moderate. Migraine episodes can last for days and even weeks.
Migraines are divided into two types. The “common migraine” lacks an aura. The “classic migraine” is always accompanied by an aura. Aura is what can be termed as visual disturbances. These disturbances can be flashes of light, changes in vision, or tingling sensation in hands and face.
What causes a migraine can range from one person to another. Hormonal migraines are extremely common in women. These affect women going through hormonal changes/imbalances. Migraines and hormones are closely linked, especially migraines and progesterone; a hormone most associated with women. Women suffering from low progesterone can often develop migraines. Let’s take a deeper look at how migraines and hormones are connected.
What Causes Migraines?
There are a wide variety of reasons for people to develop migraines. Hormonal, lifestyle factors, and even genetics. Scientists have not been able to identify how a migraine is triggered in the brain as of yet. But there has been extensive research on the triggers that start these migraine episodes. These special kinds of triggers and migraines can be:
- Estrogen Migraine is a kind of a hormonal migraine that is triggered as a result of fluctuation in estrogen levels in a human body. This particular hormone has a certain effect on brain chemicals that in turn affect the sensation of pain. This type of migraine is often caused due to a drop in estrogen levels.
- Migraines and low progesterone are linked at the hip. Scientists have shown that low progesterone can trigger migraines in women. Triggering of Migraines is often seen in women of reproductive age, because of this reason. For many women, the use of progesterone cream helps ease the severity of migraines. Actually, it can often be just a little dab on the temples will do. Be sure to use a cream with enough progesterone – at least 20-30mg per serving.
- Birth control pills: Birth control pills contain hormones. These hormones can trigger migraines.
- Menstrual migraines are experienced by every woman who undergoes monthly changes at least once. Headache during a period is a common occurrence in women of reproductive age. A migraine headache during the period is also triggered by hormonal changes.
- Hormone replacement therapy in which hormones are injected into the body.
- Hormonal changes during perimenopause
- Emotional distress
- Food sensitivities
- Poor eating patterns
- Poor sleeping patterns
- Increased physical effort
- Sharp light or Glare
While all of these can trigger headaches as well, it is the intensity that determines if it is a migraine or not.
Managing Migraines – Keeping a record can help
With migraines, it is important to keep track of the cause that is triggering it in you. The best way to keep track is to write down, what you do throughout the day, eat, what medications you take, what kind of physical activity you are a part of, what kind of diet you have, and how much sleep you get each night. Also keeping track of triggers that may cause migraines like continuous loud noises, glaring lights, and bad smells can help. This data can help you or your doctor deduce what might be triggering your migraine.
Writing down the symptoms you experience can also help track the root of your problem. Especially, hormonal migraine symptoms can help your doctor deduce what kind of migraine you are dealing with. Hormonal migraine symptoms are the same as any regular migraine along with possible loss of appetite, fatigue, and constipation.
If you suffer from long periods of migraines or too often you should consult your doctor. The doctor will then conduct tests like blood tests, psychological exams, electroencephalography (EEG), computed axial tomography scan (CAT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This will help diagnose your problem. Your doctor can then prescribe medication and additional therapies that can provide short term and long-term therapeutic help.
1. Tackling Migraines Immediately
If you feel like a migraine is coming, there are some things that you can do to curb a possible attack. Keep a lookout for initial symptoms like disturbance and pain in eye movement along with a heavy head.
Immediately go to your bedroom or a dark room and cover your eyes. Put an ice pack behind your neck and keep your hands and feet warm. This will cool your blood that is going to the brain. It allows for the prevention of vasoconstriction and rebound vasodilation that will keep your headache at bay.
2. Taking Additional Help
As there are multiple causes of migraines, there are multiple ways to get rid of them. The goal of utilizing any such method is to decrease the intensity or excitement of neurons in the brain. This can be done by modifying neurotransmitters in the brain and certain hormones.
The most immediate method to curb a migraine is to try medication such as pain killers or specialized drugs made to treat migraines. Over the counter, painkillers are often good enough for a moderate amount of pain. As a migraine can also be accompanied by vomiting and nausea, you may have to take additional medication for those symptoms too. Ginger in candied or even pill form can be a great natural remedy for nausea.
Medicines used to treat migraines include painkillers known as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), acetaminophen (paracetamol), Anti-nausea medication (antiemetics), and special migraine medication (triptans and ergotamines). Preventive medicines that are used to avert possible attacks or painkillers should not be taken on an empty stomach. These should only be used if the dark room and cold pack do not help since they can disrupt the stomach and its lining over time as well as lower the immune system.
Specialized nasal sprays that prevent and treat migraines may be able to provide quicker relief as stomach empties more slowly during a migraine. So, nasal sprays might be more effective.
What About Hormonal Migraine Treatment?
Avoiding estrogen overdose: If you are going through hormonal replacement therapy, you might consider lowering its dose after you talk to your doctor. Some women are so averse to estrogen that even the slightest dose might trigger migraines. If you have to choose, consider the gentlest of estrogens; estriol. Compared to other stronger forms of the hormone, estriol does not remain in your system and build up but can often do the trick quickly enough. Ask your doctor for more information.
Using Progesterone Cream: You might consider using progesterone cream if you have a headache. Progesterone headache is caused by low progesterone or estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance is when estrogen and progesterone are imbalanced and estrogen is disproportionately higher. Progesterone cream can alleviate symptoms of a migraine very easily. A little dab on the temples can do a lot.
If you have Migraines and progesterone cream is something you are considering, start by applying a small amount (one-half teaspoon) of progesterone cream on your skin daily, three to four days before your periods are about to begin. If you feel a migraine coming, some report it as a quick remedy and apply it at 15-minute intervals. This will help avert a migraine attack as progesterone has a natural ability to relax neurons by interacting with GABA receptors in the human brain just like valium does.
Progesterone cream or oil are also effective against premenstrual and menopausal associated migraines. Avoid using synthetic progestin that can constrict your blood vessels and contribute to a more intense migraine.
Long-term Lifestyle Choices Can Impact Migraines
Many lifestyle choices impact the hormonal tendencies of the body that then affect how often you might get migraines. There are many ways in which you can avoid migraines. Especially if you are wondering how to get rid of a hormonal migraine, here are some tips:
- Avoid food that might trigger migraines
- Avoid potential stressors like too many office working hours, too much physical exertion, relationship trouble, etc.
- Take breaks if you have a repetitive job, especially if you have increased use of laptop screens and smartphones.
- Maintain good eating patterns. Do not skip meals or overeat.
- Maintain a good sleeping pattern. Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Do not oversleep regularly.
- Stop smoking.
- Do not drink alcohol excessively.
- Exercise regularly. Brisk walking and moderate aerobic activity 3 to 4 times a week should be your minimum.
- Practice relaxation techniques, Tai Chi or yoga and meditation.
- Take supplements like magnesium, fish oil (EPA and DHA), and olive oil.
- Try using herbs like Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) that prevents migraines by the release of the vasoactive peptides that are involved in vasodilation following vasoconstriction, and Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) that has shown to decrease severity, duration, and intensity of migraines.
- You can also try biofeedback. This type of training has shown to decrease migraine attacks in nearly half of the people who tried it. Biofeedback helps by preventing the series of neurotransmitter changes that then trigger a migraine.
- Last, but certainly not least, might be peppermint oil. Put a drop or two into your hand and rub together, cup your hands together, then breathe it in deeply. Do not allow peppermint oil near the eyes. It can be too strong.
Pick and choose carefully what to try and what to eliminate. Do the best you can to be the best you possible and it shouldn’t be long before you see improvements and hopefully say goodbye to migraines.