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Why me? Every headache sufferer asks this question at some point. In this video, Robert Cowan, MD, migraine researcher and director of our Headache Clinic, shares his insights on how to manage your migraines – a condition that he and the more than 10,000 patients he has cared for suffer from.
Before your clinic appointment, our doctors recommend that you proactively monitor your symptoms for one to three months, using the steps outlined in the video. This will help maximize your clinic visit and migraine care.
Step 1: Observation and Self-Awareness
Not everyone gets headaches for the same reasons. It is important to observe your own patterns of behavior to identify the things that contribute to and trigger headaches. A great way to get started is with a headache diary.
By recording your headache frequency and severity, time of onset and similar information, you may begin to see patterns that are more obvious than when you simply reflect back on your headaches. Once you have your observations, your doctor can make a diagnosis.
Step 2: The Plan
A good treatment strategy has several parts, including rescue or acute treatment and prevention.
- Rescue or acute treatment: Medication is the cornerstone of treatment. But it is also important to have a strategy in place to hand off your responsibilities and have a safe, quiet, dark place to go to for rest.
- Prevention: Strategies you put in place to decrease your sensitivity to environmental stressors that trigger headaches will help prevent them. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Biofeedback, physical therapy, stress management, integrative medicine and other strategies are also essential to good outcomes for many patients.
Step 3: Lifestyle Modification
Lifestyle modification is often the most important, beneficial piece of the puzzle. The goal is to maintain consistent sleep, eating and exercise patterns. These three behaviors influence changes in your body's hormonal cycles. By maintaining consistency in these cycles, your body is better able to anticipate and adapt without spiraling out of control and into migraine.
Migraine 101: A 3-Step Guide to Managing Headaches