Stress and Migraine Headaches

No one knows for sure what triggers migraine headaches, but they seem to occur more often during times of stress. Certain foods, medications or alcohol may also play a role.

Migraine – Not Just a Headache

If you’ve ever had a migraine, you don’t need to be told how painful they are. The pain often starts on one side of the head and may gradually spread, lasting for hours or even days. There may be other symptoms, including nausea, numbness on one side of the body and visual disturbances. Many people with migraines experience these symptoms before the actual migraine comes on. The good news is that in most people, migraines get less frequent as you get older.

The Role of Stress

When you consider the powerful hormones that stress releases in your body, it’s not hard to believe that migraines might be influenced by stress. Your body responds to stress with a “fight or flight” reaction. Heart rate, blood flow and blood pressure go up; muscle tension increases; and the digestive system either shuts down or speeds up to clear itself out and get you ready to fight or run away. Since there’s no clear action that we can take in response to most modern stress, this state of arousal lingers on and may cause physical distress, including migraines.

What YOU Can Do

If you have persistent headaches, see your doctor. You need to rule out serious, treatable causes of headache. If your doctor diagnoses migraine, there are a variety of treatments available. You can help by keeping a record of possible migraine triggers. If stress is usually part of the picture, consider learning such stress reduction techniques .. . progressive as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, guided visualization and deep breathing. Biofeedback techniques have been helpful for some migraine sufferers. Ask your doctor for more information.

When you consider the powerful hormones that stress releases in your body, it’s not hard to believe that migraines might be influenced by stress.

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