Recovering The SelfA Journal of Hope and Healing


Beyond Just a Headache

by Ron McDiarmid??????????????????

Many people suffer from the debilitating effects of migraines. There’s nothing like the pounding intensity of it. Everything gets louder, brighter, and sharper. The world distills to a single point of painful focus, usually on one side of the head.

A migraine is a pain in the head, but it is not a headache in the way that we understand. It can last anywhere from two hours to three days. Many migraine sufferers can experience as many as three or four a week, though for most people, it is much less frequent.

People experiencing a migraine are often so nauseous that they vomit. Any physical movement, bright light, or loud sound can make the pain worse, and usually the only thing people in a migraine can do is lie down in a dark room with a lavender eye pillow and hope to fall asleep.

Migraines can be caused by genetics, stress, PTSD, fatigue, caffeine, eating food additives such as nitrates and MSG, alcohol, exposure to environmental toxins, changing weather patterns, skipping meals, illnesses like asthma and stroke, or abnormal sleep conditions. By far, emotional stress is the most common trigger.

Types of Migraines

Common Migraines

Called so because they are the most common types. Common migraines account for 80 percent of migraines. They migraine have no auras, and are usually signified or accompanied by fatigue, anxiety, extreme mood changes, and an inability to focus.

Classic Migraines

Classic migraines are preceded by visual or sensory symptoms, called an “aura.” The aura can appear as flashing lights, colored spots of light, zig-zaging lines, or blind spots in one or both eyes. Other senses can be affected, including sensations like ringing in the ears, difficulty speaking clearly, numbness or tingling in other parts body, or smelling a strange odor. Auras usually start about an hour before a migraine kicks in, and can last for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, or even during the entire migraine.

Retinal or Ocular Migraine

Temporary total or partial loss of vision in one eye. May or may not include head pain.

Menstrual Migraines

Migraines that are caused by or connected to fluctuating estrogen levels. Some can be helped by food or herbal hormone management.

Abdominal Migraine

Pain in the abdomen that can last up to three days, and is usually accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

Basilar Artery Migraine

Usually seen in young adults or those experiencing hormonal fluctuations. Head pain in the back of the head, usually with an aura of dizziness, mental confusion, challenges speaking, or sensory illusions.

Chronic Migraine

Chronic migraines are also known as tension-type headaches, transformed migraines, or co-existing Migraine. Chronic migraines are when a migraine transforms into a constant background headache that seems to never fully go away, and periodically flares into intense migraine symptoms.

Ophthalmoplegic Migraine

Pain that develops into partial or complete paralysis of the nerves used to move the eyes. This is one of the few types of migraine that requires immediate medical treatment.

Doctors do not yet know how to cure most migraines. The usually advice is to take aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen. Some people find relief with natural anti-inflammatories and soothing essential oils that increase circulation and inspire relaxation, like lavender, peppermint, wintergreen, marjoram, helichrysum, basil, and eucalyptus. Acupuncture and deep breathing practices like yoga seem to be the most effective alternative therapies.

The best advice is to pay attention to what happens around you before you get a migraine, and avoid the foods, smells, and activities that seem to trigger it. Stress, fatigue, and dehydration increase the intensity and frequency of migraines. Get lots of rest, eat healthy food on a regular schedule, drink plenty of pure water, and practice stress-relieving techniques like yoga and meditation.

While doctors do not yet know the causes and cures of migraines, tracking your own migraines and establishing a healthy lifestyle may be able to help you reduce their occurrence.

About the Author

This post is contributed by Ron McDiarmid, who is the founder of My Healthy Living Coach. Having had health challenges along the way Ron was keen to share the research and learning he gathered. Through MHLC this continued into a current presentation of healthy lifestyle choices and how to implement them. Check out his website at

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