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Adrian asked...

Migraines and diet

Tags: diet , headache

I suffer from migraines (for over 15 years) about 5 to 8 times per month, lasting about 4 to 8 hours each time. I take sumatriptan which mostly helps ease the pain. I have had a head scan (all okay) and tried non-diary, no wheat, no oranges, chocolate etc diets. I don't drink any tea, coffee or alcohol. I have also tried acupuncture, chiropractics, reflexology, massage and 10mg propranolol per day, none of which has helped - any ideas or suggestions. I'd prefer not to try topiramate due to the side effects. Thanks for your consideration.

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The answer

One of the challenges of migraine management is identifying possible triggers, which isn’t always straightforward.

According to NICE, the most likely migraine triggers include:

  • Stress
  • Relaxation after stress, so-called 'weekend migraine'
  • Strong smells
  • Bright light
  • Dehydration and missed meals
  • Jet lag
  • Strenuous exercise is thought to trigger migraine in those unaccustomed to it, however regular exercise may help to prevent migraine.

You’ve made a good start on working through possible triggers. A trigger can be identified using a ‘migraine diary’ which involves documenting:

  • The frequency, duration, and severity of headaches
  • Any associated symptoms
  • All prescribed and over-the-counter medications taken to relieve headaches and their effect and possible triggers.

Your GP should be able to help you in this process and the next steps in managing the condition.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses.

Further reading

Migraine management – AXA PPP

Migraine Clinical Knowledge Summary – National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

Dehydration – Know your risk – AXA PPP

NICE – Migraine

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