Can Pets Help With Migraines?

person with a migraine cuddling a dog

There’s no doubt, our pets are some pretty amazing creatures. After a long day, you can always count on them to greet you with a warm heart and a cold nose. Having a pet has been shown to help with many things, from lowering blood pressure to detecting changes in blood sugar levels. So, it only makes sense that pets may be able to help those who suffer from migraines as well. If you are one of the more than 37 million Americans that suffer from migraines, here are some of the possible benefits of having a furry friend.

Chemical Change

The same way pets can help with depression and anxiety, whenever you interact with a furry or feathered companion it causes oxytocin to be released. This same chemical that is generated at childbirth can have a variety of positive effects. Due to the many benefits of an animal’s presence, researchers have looked into other areas like behavioral, mental, and heart-related issues.

Great Company

Dogs and cats can form strong bonds with their owners. When someone is suffering from a migraine, rather than spending long hours in a dark room alone, their pet can offer relief through keeping them company. This companionship has the potential to improve a migraine sufferer’s outlook and daily life.

Welcome Distraction

Oftentimes when we are suffering from pain, sadness, or any kind of discomfort, a distraction can help put our focus on something other than what’s bothering us. When pet owners focus their attention on their pet, it may help alleviate some of the pain of a migraine. Whether it’s simply petting them to calm yourself, or watching them play, their ability to distract and bring joy are great. The socialization and affection we get from these animals are great as well; pets can help prevent a migraine sufferer from feeling alone, offering comfort as they battle chronic migraine pain.

Positive Outlook

Caring for a pet can offer a sense of purpose as they are a responsibility. When someone suffers from chronic pain, it can become difficult to get motivated to get up and moving. Having to get up to feed, walk, or interact with a pet helps give migraine sufferers the mobility they need to keep muscles and tissues conditioned, and can improve circulation, joint health, and more.

Each individual who struggles with migraines is different. Pets may not be a good fit for everyone, but if you’re an animal lover, the list of benefits is quite substantial. Be sure to read our 3 Pill-less Remedies for Migraine Headaches blog post for other ways you can manage migraines.

To learn more about clinical research for migraines and other topics, click HERE or call us directly at 817-281-4156.

Avoiding Your Next Migraine

woman practicing migraine headache prevention
If you are among the more than 37 million Americans that suffer from migraines, you know that they make your life much harder than it needs to be, and they can sometimes stop you dead in your tracks. Lights become too bright and noises become too loud. They are sometimes accompanied by dizziness, nausea, and/or vomiting. Migraines are unpleasant and anyone who’s ever had one would love to be able to prevent & avoid them. We’ve compiled some helpful tips that may aid you in preventing your next migraine.

Exercise Regularly

This one is key in preventing numerous health-related issues, and migraines are no exception. Keep it moderate, though; intense workouts can actually cause migraines. Try and stick to stress-reducing workouts like yoga, light aerobics, or tai chi. Make sure to stay hydrated during your workout.

Reduce Exposure to Loud Noise and Bright Lights

As we mentioned, everything seems to be amplified whenever you experience a migraine, so it’s a good idea to avoid things like flashing lights, loud music, or anything else that may cause sensory stimulation. Avoid long periods of watching TV or staring at the computer screen, and give your eyes a break.

Headache Journal

The more observant you are of when you get a migraine, and what may have been the cause, the more likely you are to be able to avoid those triggers in the future. Keep note of what food and drink you’ve consumed, the weather, your exercise routine, medications, etc. When you start to notice patterns, avoiding the next migraine can be a bit easier.

What You’re Eating

There are specific foods that can contribute to getting headaches. Some of these things may be some of your favorite items, but chocolate, sweeteners, cheese, processed meats, red wine, and dark-colored alcohol have been known to bring about headaches. So if you do consume any of these, be sure that you pay extra close attention, and record it in your headache journal. Take a look at our Is Your Diet Causing Your Migraine Headaches? blog entry for more insight.

Supplements

Along with avoiding certain food items, you’ll want to make sure you are getting the proper nutrients that your body needs. There are certain herbs and minerals that can help you in preventing migraines. Magnesium deficiency is a common factor when it comes to many folks getting migraines, so be sure to include a magnesium supplement in your daily diet. Your doctor can recommend other supplements that may help ease symptoms brought on by headaches.

Depending on the Weather

The weather can certainly be moody at times, and when it decides to change it can have an effect on your potential for migraines. Hot temperatures, rainy days, and high humidity are capable of prompting headaches. So, if you can’t avoid being outside during these times, try to limit the amount of time you’re exposed to these elements.

Keep on a Schedule

Don’t skip meals. Sometimes this can be difficult with the busy and fast-paced lives that we lead. It’s recommended that you eat within an hour of waking up. You don’t have to have a full meal every time, but it’s a good idea to try and eat every three to four hours. Drink plenty of water, and don’t let your body get too hungry, as these can both lead to a headache.

Along with keeping your body fueled, you need to keep it well-rested also. Lack of sleep can provoke symptoms. Again, this can be tough with a busy life, but it’s in your best interest to get seven to eight hours of sleep whenever possible.

Say No to Stress

This is not always within your control, but you can control your reaction to it. As you can imagine, stress is commonly associated with migraines. We’ve mentioned in another blog entry, yoga can be very beneficial in the fight against migraines, as is the case with meditation.

Follow these tips and have a solid plan; you’ll be surprised by the difference it can make.

Migraines are one of our most commonly studied topics. Learn more at Protenium.com.

5 Yoga Poses for Migraine Headaches

People doing yoga

Anyone who has ever experienced migraine knows how sharp the pain becomes, how blinding even the smallest light seems, and how quickly it brings about a wave of confusion and helplessness.

Studies show that approximately 18% of women and 6% of men in the United States currently suffer from migraine. It’s no surprise that more than 90% of those who experience migraine are physically unable to continue with daily functions of life; simple tasks that the average person would take for granted.

Even more disturbing is that 14 million people must battle with these types of headaches nearly every single day.

“It is an extremely debilitating collection of neurological symptoms that usually includes a severe recurring intense throbbing pain on one side of the head,” says a spokesperson for the Migraine Research Foundation. “Attacks last between 4 and 72 hours and are often accompanied by one or more of the following: visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face.”

Imagine going about your day with the constant fear of knowing that at any moment, a migraine could strike. Your entire life could be thrown off track.  Aside from medication, is there anything that can be done to fight against migraine so you can return to enjoying your life? Consider yoga.

How can yoga help?

Yoga is an ancient form of exercise and philosophy. It is a means to achieving balance within your mind and body. The health benefits of yoga are extensive including:

– Improving posture

– Eliminating muscle imbalances

– Reducing stress levels

– Lowering blood pressure and heart rate

– Improving your physique

Yoga is also an amazing solution to relieving the pain and symptoms of migraine. The stretches in yoga help to lengthen tight muscles that could be contributing to migraine.

Listed below are the top 5 yoga poses that have been shown to reduce or eliminate migraine pain. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class before, then all the movements listed should be familiar to you. It is recommended that you perform these movements on a daily basis, preferably in the morning.

Hold each pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Start off with one set for each, gradually progressing to doing two or three sets each time.

1. Downward Dog Pose

This standing pose is one of the most common. It will allow you to perform a deep stretch on your calves, hamstrings, hips, lower back, shoulders, and arms. As it is considered an inversion pose, it is often recognized as a great way to alleviate pain from headaches or migraine.

– Begin on your hands and knees.

– Place your hands a few inches forward. Press your palms directly into the mat.

– Bring yourself to your toes then extend your heel back.

– Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.

– Press your hips back and toward the ceiling. Your body should resemble an inverted V.

– Keep pressing your shoulders away from ears.

– Press and hold this position.

2. Seated Spinal Twist

This yoga movement helps to stretch out tight muscle of the hips, core, and lower back.

– Sit with your left leg extended and your right knee bent in.

– Place your left elbow against your right knee.

– Place your right hand behind you.

– Inhale and sit up tall, then exhale and push your left elbow against your right knee.

– Gently twist and hold this position.

3. Head to Knee Pose

This classic pose will ease tension in the calves, hamstrings, lower back, shoulders, and neck.

– Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you.

– Take your left foot and bring it in towards your hips – Rest it on the right inner thigh.

– Place both arms overhead and slowly bring your arms forward.

– Wrap your hands around your right foot.

– Hold this position.

4. Child’s Pose

A favorite pose that allows you to stretch while getting ready to bring your sitting session to an end. This pose stretches the lower back, upper back, shoulders, arms, and sides of the body.

– Kneel on the ground.

– Bring your hips back and let your butt sit on your feet.

– Bring your head down as you extend arms forward.

– Relax and drop the shoulders.

– Feel the stretch and hold the pose.

5. Corpse Pose

The final pose in many yoga classes. The focus is on stress relief through relaxation, concentration, and deep breathing.

– Lay flat on your back.

– Let your feet fall out to the sides.

– Extend your arms slightly away from your sides.

– Let your palms face upward.

– Keep your eyes closed.

Focus solely on your breath as you relax. Once you are finished, remember to drink plenty of water to help flush out any toxins. Now go and get ready to enjoy a migraine free day!

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Is This A Headache Or A Migraine?

headache

You know the friend.  The one who collapses dramatically on the sofa and declares she cannot possibly do x, y or z because she “has a migraine.”  Or the person that has an extremely detailed list of trigger foods and is currently subsisting on raw tofu and water from France.

As maladies go, headaches are usually no big deal.  However, as soon as someone says “migraine,” it becomes an entirely different ballgame.  Headaches are something of a nebulous issue anyway because it’s often difficult to offer more detail than “My head hurts.”  How do you differentiate migraines from garden-variety headaches?

Here are a few important distinctions:

  • Throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head.  It may feel like the headache “moves” when you do.
  • Eye pain.  Migraines often occur behind the eyes and can signal that it’s time for some serious intervention.  Blind spots can also be an indicator of a migraine.
  • An extreme sensitivity to light and/or noise.  Regular headaches can make you irritable but exposure to every day sounds and noise can make a migraine sufferer downright stabby.
  • Migraine sufferers often have “hangovers.”  Either from extreme pain, the use of triptans to alleviate the pain, or both, the sufferer can feel like he or she has been hit by a truck afterward.
  • Vomiting, nausea, upset stomach and abdominal discomfort may be symptomatic of a migraine.
  • Extreme fatigue often accompanies a migraine.
  • A loss of appetite is common.  It’s tough to feel hungry when your head feels like it might explode.
  • Some people experience auras, which are light patterns, flashing dots, or jagged lines.  Others may experience strange odors or bodily sensations.  Pay attention to any symptoms that are atypical of a common headache.
  • Physical activity worsens the pain.

Migraines affect 28 million Americans each year and 70% of migraine sufferers are women.  The causes range from hormone changes and stress to artificial sweeteners.  Doctors often recommend keeping a headache diary to identify the factors that tip off your migraines.  Keep track of the time of frequency of medication, meals and exercise.  You may discover some pre-migraine clues to help you head off the next one.

Migraines are very treatable.  There are variety of ways to reduce the frequency as well as treating one in progress.  See your doctor to find the right treatment for you.

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Is Your Diet Causing Your Migraine Headaches?

suffering a migraineIn today’s world, it can be very difficult to eat right, focus on your dietary intake and live an overall healthy life. Unfortunately, this can be tied directly into the higher incidence of migraine that is noted in industrialized nations, like America. Skipping meals, eating unhealthy and the availability of junk food has been confirmed to be the reason for the horrible throbbing in your head.

We all know that skipping meals and eating on an irregular schedule can cause health problems later in life. What most people didn’t know is that this behavior is also associated with immediate health problems, like migraines.

How Irregular Meals Cause Your Migraines

Fluctuations in blood sugar are typically associated with diabetics. The truth is, every human has blood sugar fluctuations throughout the day. In those who are predisposed to developing migraines, the slight fluctuation of blood sugar can actually be all you need to trigger a migraine.

The best way to prevent this type of migraine is to schedule your meal times and your bed time. This will allow you an even amount of space between meals and snacks and give you better control over how much your blood sugar fluctuates throughout the day.

How Eating Junk Food Causes Your Migraines

We eat junk food because it was chemically designed to be delicious. Unfortunately, junk food also causes a massive raise in our blood sugar that fades rather quickly. Ingesting sugar laden junk food, or junk food that is filled with carbohydrates has a roller coaster effect on our bodies. Our blood sugar goes up rather quickly and then a short time later, it plummets back to normal or below normal.

The human body was not designed to respond to rapid changes of this nature. Because of this, the entire body responds, including the blood vessels. When blood sugar drops rapidly, blood vessels constrict and limit blood flow. Constricted blood vessels can cause a headache but these vessels cannot stay constricted for a long period of time without reducing blood flow to dangerous levels.

When the blood vessels are constricted, the brains ends out a message that they need to open back up and that the tissues in the affected area need more blood. When the blood vessels open, a migraine is triggered because yet again, the body is not set up to handle this rapid change.

Preventing Migraines

If you have noticed that your migraines are triggered by certain foods, not eating on a regular basis, or skipping meals, putting yourself on a schedule can be very beneficial. You can do so by planning your meals, the times you are going to eat, eating healthy meals, and having a healthy snack when you feel hungry.

You should also monitor your intake of sugar and carbohydrates to maintain a healthy blood sugar. When planning your meals, remember to look at more than just the sugar content. Carbohydrates turn into sugar in the digestion process and can have the same effects on your body.

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3 Pill-less Remedies for Migraine Headaches

drink water to avoid migrainesMore than 36 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches. Aside from the excruciating pain, migraines are costly. All of the lost productivity and medical bills add up to more than $20 billion annually in the United States.

There is no cure for migraine headaches, but studies show that nearly 40 percent of migraine sufferers could benefit from preventative therapies. These types of treatment methods aim to decrease the frequency, duration, and severity of migraines. Unfortunately, less than 13 percent of patients are currently using any of these therapies.

Migraineurs are well versed with the current offering of prescription medication on the market.  While they all have their place and serve an important role, here is a growing list of promising natural treatments for migraines that don’t require a pill.

1. Relax with a massage

Almost everyone loves a massage, but migraine sufferers should be especially fond of this natural treatment. One study from the University of Miami Touch Research Institute found that massage can help migraine sufferers during attacks and between attacks. They found that deep massage in the neck and shoulders is effective in lessening the frequency of migraines. When the headache had already set in, researchers found that light massage near the head as the patient was lying face up and a more vigorous massage of the feet and hands were the most effective pain-relieving techniques.

2. Listen to your body

Biofeedback is a non-invasive treatment that alerts patients of their headache cues and teaches them relaxation techniques aimed at regulating those physical symptoms. At-home biofeedback tools come with a variety of options: finger sensors, handheld devices, electrodes, and more. These devices and sensors monitor physical symptoms in the body like skin temperature, heart rate, breathing rate, and muscle tension. The biofeedback device beeps or lights up when the symptoms are elevated and that beeping alerts the patient that they should begin practicing stress-reduction techniques.

Some patients are able to teach themselves how to manage biofeedback and relaxation techniques. However, most individuals go through a few practice sessions with a trained biofeedback expert before they start using this treatment at home. Many doctors give high praise to biofeedback for helping lessen the duration and severity of migraines.

3. Drink up!

For migraine sufferers, even the slightest form of dehydration can trigger a migraine attack. Drinking extra water may sound like the simplest form of treatment, but for many people, it works amazingly well. One study showed that drinking as little as four extra cups of water per day could significantly curb migraine attacks.

While prescription medications can help once a migraine begins its rage, one of these treatments might keep the frequency and intensity at bay. Let us know if you discover results from these techniques!

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What Are Your Migraine Triggers? And How to Avoid Them

woman with headache

There are a lot of people who suffer with migraine headaches, and if you are one of them, you know how horrible they can be. For some of us, one migraine can be debilitating for days and leave us unable to function in the slightest ways. Along with taking prescribed medications, there are some ways that you can prevent your migraines from occurring or at least reduce the number of times they happen. You can do this by learning your triggers and knowing what to avoid.

Types of Migraine Triggers

There are many different types of migraine triggers. Some people who have migraines say that certain foods, perfumes, flickering lights, and weather changes can trigger a migraine or a series of migraines. Learning your triggers is one of the most effective ways to reduce your migraine frequency.

Food – There are a lot of different foods that can trigger a migraine. Here are a few of the most common foods that you may need to avoid if you have migraines.

  • Ripened cheeses
  • Chocolate
  • Marinated, pickled, or fermented food
  • Foods that contain nitrites or nitrates or MSG
  • Sour cream
  • Nuts, peanut butter
  • Sourdough bread
  • Broad beans, lima beans, fava beans, snow peas
  • Figs, raisins, papayas, avocados, red plums
  • Citrus fruits
  • Excessive amounts of caffeinated beverages such as tea, coffee, or cola
  • Alcohol

Menstrual Cycle – Many women claim that their menstrual cycle causes flare ups in their migraines and can actually cause them to be more frequent. Great a great solution to migraines that occur during the menstrual cycle is to be placed on a birth control that prevents periods, or that makes them occur less frequent.

Perfumes and Air fresheners – Anything with a scent can trigger a migraine in people who have a history. Avoiding areas where these smell occur regularly can help you avoid flare ups, such as department stores.

Stress – One of the most commonly known migraine triggers is stress. Most of the people who suffer from migraines are highly reactive emotionally, even if they don’t show it. Anxiety, sadness and worry can trigger a migraine. So can the relief of these emotions. Which is why most people who work in a high pace, high stress field experience weekend headaches once the stress is gone.

Don’t Just Avoid All Triggers

Not all of the things on this list are triggers for everyone. They are innocent until proven guilty. Just because you notice that a piece of chocolate triggers your migraines, doesn’t mean it always will. The trigger may involve more than just the chocolate itself. The chocolate combined with emotions and weather can trigger a migraine, while the chocolate alone does not. When you have a migraine, make sure to write down everything that is going on. What were you doing? How were you feeling? What was around you?

You may just find that your trigger is a eating a piece of chocolate when you are stressed and on your period. Others may find that chocolate right before it rains triggers a migraine.

Keep a journal of this information to find if it is consistent and to learn what to avoid. Share your journal with your physician so that he can provide the best options to treat your migraines.

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