Taking control of your migraines: what can you do as a patient

Migraines are among the most common of the primary headaches, the other been tension type headaches and cluster headaches. The etiopathogenesis of migraine headache is thought to be vascular and now there are many effective drugs available both for an acute migraine attack as well as for prophylaxis (read my post on headache at http://braindiseases.info). While these drugs are highly effective, many patients would rather avoid taking a drug if they can help it. Drugs have their own side-effects and cost is always an issue.

So is there anything patients can do themselves so as to make their headaches better? In this post I shall list a few of these simple measures, which if followed shall give you a better control over disabling migraine headache attacks.

 Know your headache

what do I mean by that. Well as a patient who suffers from migraine, the single most important thing that you can do is get to understand your migraine.

When does it come on?

Do you have headaches after a hard day’s work?

Do you get a migraine if you keep a late night out?

Does too much stress bring on a headache?

Does too much alcohol give you a headache?


If yes then what kind of alcohol gives you a headache the next day. People who have migraines usually get headaches if they consume red wine (white wine goes down better with them).

Do you have any other migraine triggers apart from lack of sleep, overindulgence in alcohol, red wine, old and aged cheese, chocolate, nuts etc.

What gives you relief from a headache?

Does sleep abort the headache?

Does regular physical exercise decrease your headache frequency and severity?

What about other complimentary therapies like yoga, tai-chi, meditation?

Keep a headache diary in which you document your headache episodes consistently for about a month or two. How many times did you have a migraine attack? What brought it on? What made the headache go away? If you keep this diary consistently, you shall soon come to know your triggers for migraine and can then take steps to remedy them.

Nitin Sethi, MD

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