By Rachel Welch
If you suffer from migraines, you know that they are more difficult than a normal headache. They can interfere with your day and interrupt productivity. Migraines can be painful, exhausting, and relentless. You may be familiar with migraines, of which there are many different kinds. While migraines can be challenging to overcome, there are some steps you can take to help treat them.
The most common differentiation between migraines are those with aura and those without aura. An "aura" usually includes visual symptoms like lines, shapes, or flashes.
Migraines with aura (previously known as "classical migraines,") consist of visual symptoms prior to the onset of a migraine. Migraines with aura can lead some people to temporarily lose their vision and experience changes to their smell, taste, touch, or speech (1). Beyond these two common types of migraines, there are several subtypes.
Triggered by hormonal changes, menstrual migraines affect many women all over the world. Menstrual migraines can happen with or without aura and are often timed in accordance with a woman's menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, women who experience migraines during their period are often prone to experience migraines at other times as well.
Symptoms of a vestibular migraine can be dizziness, vertigo, and trouble with balance. Research suggests that vestibular migraines affect 30-50% of those who suffer from migraines. Vertigo and loss of balance may occur shortly before or during a migraine, and can last for a few seconds, or even a few days.
Migraines without a Headache
Migraines without a headache, while they may seem counter-intuitive, may experience an aura without head pain. This type of migraine may solely be the visual symptoms of lines, flashes, or shapes, but may not yield a headache. Uniquely, the American Migraine Foundation suggests that this type of migraine may become more common with age.
An abdominal migraine causes stomach pain instead of a headache. Sometimes, a migraine may manifest in a person's stomach instead of in their head. Very common in children, abdominal migraines cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and a pale complexion.
This is a migraine that lasts for more than 72 hours. While we would likely never wish this fate on anyone, status migrainosus can be caused by overuse of migraine medication, and is, understandably, one of the most impactful to quality of life (2).
Luckily, only a small percent of the population suffers from hemiplegic migraines. Hemiplegic migraines lead to unusual symptoms that can cause alarm. Hemiplegia (weakness on one side of the body) often accompanies a migraine (with or without aura). This can be scary, as the symptoms of hemiplegic migraines often mimic that of a stroke, heart attack, or other serious condition. There are two types of hemiplegic migraines: familial, and sporadic.
Familial hemiplegic migraines (FHM) are inherited within families and passed down genetically. Sporadic hemiplegic migraines (SHM) occur without a genetic connection but are equally as unpleasant, and in some cases more difficult to diagnose (3).
Basilar Migraine (Migraine with Brain Stem Aura)
This type of migraine can cause ringing in the ears, fainting, loss of balance, and slurred speech. Migraines with brain stem aura may be previewed with dizziness and vertigo before any pain.
There are several different types of migraines that impact people all over the world, at different times, and for different reasons. What we know to be true is that regardless of their differences, all migraines are difficult to bear. So, what can we do to ease the discomfort that comes with a migraine? How can we give our bodies the best chance at preventing them in the first place?
Proper hydration is an important factor related to migraines. A large percentage of migraine sufferers say that dehydration is a common trigger for the onset of migraines, and this makes sense considering what dehydration does to our brain. A study completed in 2010 confirmed that prolonged reduced water intake leads to decreased planning and visuospatial processing (5). Additionally, a study in 2018 suggested that when we are dehydrated, cognitively engaging tasks are more difficult for us to process and complete.
One obvious way to address this is to maintain proper hydration! It is important to ensure electrolyte homeostasis (the proper balance of electrolytes in the body, which supports adequate hydration). In addition to drinking enough water, you can also consider adding an electrolyte supplement to your daily routine. Electrolyte supplements can help to rebuild the necessary sodium, potassium, and iodine that we may not get enough of in our daily diets. Health by Principle can help you select organic and carefully crafted supplements to help you regain your electrolyte balance. In addition, Health By Principle is the only company recommended by the Stanton Migraine Protocol, a program developed by a PhD to help migraineurs correct the electrolyte imbalance that causes migraines using diet and supplements. (Always consult your physician prior to beginning any new medication or supplement to ensure it's a good choice for you.)
Other tips and tricks to help with migraine management and prevention might be found by looking back at ancient treatments. Cupping, cauterization, and incisional garlic may be great ways to address migraines! That is, unless you have lived beyond the 18th century. Well-known physicians from the 18th century addressed migraines and other ailments in ways that we today would consider to be very odd, and we know now that there are other things we can try.
These days, our best defense against migraines is proper hydration through thoughtful water consumption and potentially, an electrolyte supplement. In addition, it is helpful to pay attention to what you eat. If any foods seem to trigger migraines, make a note of this and establish a healthy diet that works for you. For example, sugar and alcohol are common migraine triggers because they are dehydrating. Also, getting proper sleep, decreasing stress, and regular exercise can help to create improved overall health, and potentially fewer migraines.