Carole lost a lot of time to migraines. Instead of playing with her children, she would lie on her bed in the dark, with a bag of ice on her head.
"I kept thinking I could stop the migraines if I would just lie down and be still and quiet," says the 41-year-old mother of two. "It hardly ever worked."
When a migraine got really bad, Carole would take her over-the-counter and prescription medicines to stop it. "Sometimes my migraines would still be bad after I took the medicines. Sometimes they were lighter. But I found that my migraines were worse if I waited to take my medicine."
After talking with her doctor, Carole realized that she needed to treat her headaches right away. "I always used to wait too long to take my medicine. Now I take it as soon as I start to feel the twinges of pain."
"I've always been so against taking any kind of drugs," Carole says. "Maybe that's why I waited so long."
She even thought it was a weakness to reach for her medicine right away. "I don't think that anymore."
Two kinds of medicine
Carole takes medicines to stop a migraine when she gets a headache. And she takes another kind of medicine every day to prevent her migraines.
The preventive medicine has helped. "I used to have a couple migraines a week some months. Now I go several months without one. I usually can tell when one is coming on, because lights start to look really bright to me. And then I feel a stab of pain behind my eye. When that happens, I know the headache will hit soon. That's when I take my medicine. Sometimes it keeps the headache from coming. If I still get a migraine, it's usually not as bad as it would be if I didn't take my medicine."
Relaxation to prevent migraines
Along with taking medicine, Carole is trying other ways to prevent her headaches. Stress has been a trigger for her migraines in the past.
She has reduced her stress by taking a yoga class twice a week. She also walks several times a week. And she does relaxation exercises for several minutes every day when she gets home from work.
The exercises "give me a few minutes to calm myself and transition to the evening with my family. I feel better and less stressed. I can't help but think it's helping with the headaches too."
This story is based on information gathered from many people living with migraines.
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Current as of: November 19, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine