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    Top 10 tips to avoid migraine triggers

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    1. Sleep
    2. Exercise
    3. Eat well and eat regularly
    4. Drink water
    5. Cut down on the caffeine
    6. Limit time spent at a computer screen
    7. Learn to relax
    8. Take care with your posture
    9. Avoid sensory overload
    10. Learn to say NO

    Sleep

    Too little, too much and irregular sleep can all trigger migraines. Think about how much sleep is right for you, and when would be the best times to sleep and wake. Try to keep to a regular sleeping pattern and make your sleeping environment as restful as possible.

    Exposure to natural light during the day, and sufficient darkness at night can help your brain fine tune your body clock and release enough sleep hormone at the right time.

    Exercise

    Regular exercise can be an effective way of decreasing the number of migraine attacks. Walking, jogging, swimming, dancing, and cycling are ideal. Make sure that you have had enough to eat and drink, and are not tired before you begin, as this may bring a migraine on.

    A pilot study published in 2008, revealed that participants who received standard medical care in addition to a 6-week, twice-weekly, indoor exercise programme, which consisted of 45 minutes of gymnastics and 15 minutes of progressive muscle relaxation, led to a significant reduction in the severity of migraine attacks, and self-reported less pain.

    Eat well and eat regularly

    Foods, drink and eating habits have long been linked to migraines.

    Sometimes it’s not necessarily the food itself that triggers the attack, it may be a food additive.

    The brain needs a continuous energy supply to work. Not eating enough, skipping meals, dieting or exercising without eating can all cause a dip in energy levels and bring on a migraine.

    Specific foods known to cause a migraine include chocolate and citrus fruit. in addition to foods containing the substance tyramine. Tyramine containing foods include cured meats, yeast extracts, smoked fish and certain cheeses. Foods that have been stored at room temperature rather than being refrigerated or frozen can have rising levels of tyramine so may induce migraines.

    Drink water

    Water is essential for so many chemical processes within our bodies. If you are not getting enough of it, your body cannot function well and can cause migraines. To avoid this it is recommended that you drink at least eight glasses of water per day.

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    Cut down on the caffeine

    Too much caffeine or sudden drops in caffeine can set off a migraine. Try to cut down slowly as stopping suddenly can also be a trigger factor. No more than 2-3 cups of tea, coffee or caffeinated drinks (like cola) a day is ideal.

    Limit time spent at a computer screen

    Spending long periods of time looking at a screen can lead to migraines. Take a break every hour, use an anti-glare screen and sit comfortably to help avoid the build-up of muscle tension in the head, neck and shoulders.

    Learn to relax

    Try not to hold on to stress; everyone needs to offload. Get plenty of fresh air and practice deep breathing, you might even want to learn some relaxation techniques.

    Take care with your posture

    Looking after your posture is particularly important if you do a repetitive job or a job that involves sitting for extended periods of time. Take regular breaks and make sure your working environment is as ergonomically designed as possible.

    Avoid sensory overload

    Many people find that over stimulation of the brain can trigger a migraine. So, it might be helpful to avoid large reflective surfaces (e.g. plain white walls) and bright, flickering, flashing or fluorescent lights. Also, to wear sunglasses and a hat in bright sunlight and stay clear of strong perfumes.

    Learn to say NO

    Migraines can be your body’s way of saying you need to slow down and recharge. Put yourself first at least once every day.

    For treatment and advice, visit our migraine clinic.

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