Migraines are recurring headaches that are painful and often times debilitating. But many do not need to tolerate the misery. One local neurologist said knowing your triggers and being proactive with medication can help relieve suffering.
When Dr. Loveneet Singh meets his patient Alma Martinez, they go over her log, a schedule she keeps to monitor what sets off her headaches.
“He taught me that I have to make sure that I schedule everything, how to actually recognize what my triggers are for migraines because I didn’t know that before,” said Alma.
For Alma, she said sleep deprivation and stress are the two leading factors as to why she gets painful migraines. The stress of the Coronavirus pandemic and the stay at home order has also added a load to the working mom’s already busy life.
She stated, “I really noticed that my migraines were really impacting my quality of life. They were impacting how I was taking care of my children, how I was performing at work, just how I felt about myself because it was debilitating, exhausting.”
Alma believes she has been suffering from migraines for at least 20 years. But it was six months ago when she was finally referred to a neurologist, Dr. Loveneet Singh.
“I have like this spot in my eye, it starts in the center and it turns into a big like half moon kaleidoscope and it moves. And as soon as it moves it’s like an irresistible headache so that really scared me because at first I thought I was going blind,” commented Alma.
Dr. Singh explains, there are various types of migraines including ones with or without auras, otherwise described as natural phenomenas.
Dr. Singh said, “Phenomenas can be visual which are positive phenomenas such as, you have flickering lights in your eyes, you have shaggy lines in your eyes, your vision is like that and it can be negative when you have blind spots, when you lose vision.”
According to the American Migraine Foundation, about a quarter of people who experience a migraine will have aura. It’s the kind alma suffers from.
“It affects the quality of life, quality means your personal life your professional life. People call in sick from work because they have migraines,” commented the doctor.
Dr. Singh said it’s important people keep a log of what led to their migraine that day. A simple lifestyle change can be the answer to cutting the headaches out.
He added, “There are simple triggers with migraines. Sleep deprivation, under sleeping and over sleeping, both can trigger a migraine. When you have issues like dietary changes, those can happen with migraines. It’s very commonly noted people who skip meals, there are some products which you eat can trigger migraines. MSG, cocoa.”
People can take over the counter NSAIDS or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like acetamenophin or ibuprofin to help relieve their migraine pain. Dr. Singh also suggests a triptan drug, which can quiet down overactive pain nerves. Some patients like Alma will be prescribed medication to help prevent the migraines from occurring or reducing the pain if they occur.
“It’s worked very well for me, my preventative medication. I have a shot once a month and I feel the headache coming on but it like goes away which is amazing,” Alma said.
Alma said she used to get anywhere between 15 to 20 migraines a month. Now, she barely gets two. She’s grateful she received guidance from Dr. Singh, who offers advice to all who may be suffering from migraines.
He ended, “You don’t let the headaches go on, running for three or four hours and then say, ‘Okay I’m gonna take the medication at the time’ and then for the abortive medication, if you have more than five to seven headaches a month, it’s always good to be on an abortive medication so that it continues to improve.”
Abortive medications are used to stop the headache process and prevent symptoms of migraines, including pain, nausea, sound and light sensitivity and are most effective when used at the first sign of a migraine. Always consult with your doctor first before starting a new medication or if you have questions.