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Increased Migraines During COVID-19

There has been a lot that has come with the COVID-19 pandemic. A cacophony of issues have arisen for individuals and their families. From financial issues to concerns about heath and well-being and beyond, we all have had increased stress during this time. For migraine sufferers, increased stressed often leads to increased frequency of painful migraine attacks.

The American Headache Society has reported that 4 out of 5 migraine sufferers report stress as a migraine trigger. If you consider that the estimate of individuals with migraines in the United States exceeds 38 million people, and assuming 80% of them report stress as a migraines trigger, then there are over 30 million individuals in the United States who have experienced an increase in their symptoms since COVID19 came to light.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have published these healthy ways to cope with stress:

Take care of yourself.

  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals

  • Exercise on a regular basis

  • Get plenty of sleep

  • Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out

Talk to others.

  • Share your problems and how you are feeling and coping with a parent, friend, counselor, doctor, or pastor.

Avoid drugs and alcohol.

  • These may seem to help, but they can create additional problems and increase the stress you are already feeling.

Take a break.

  • If news events are causing your stress, take a break from listening or watching the news.

Recognize when you need more help. 

  • If problems continue or you are thinking about suicide, talk to a psychologist, social worker, or professional counselor.

While a great list of ways for individuals to reduce their levels of stress. What can a migraine sufferer due during the COVID-19 pandemic to help facilitate reducing their severity and frequency?

1. Eating Healthy.

  1. There have been more empty shelves and less variety of food choices at our local grocery store. When fresh fruits became more scare, we went to using frozen berries/ fruits and canned fruits with no sugar added. Making smoothies with the frozen fruit has help to keep us eating a more balanced diet while the supply of our normal choices have decreased. We have also cooked more at home, tried new recipes and enjoyed the time together as a family during mealtime.

2. Exercising.

  1. While gyms and other recreational facilities are closed, taking walk outside and finding new exercise videos on streaming services etc have help to keep us active during the lock down.

3. Medications

  1. Ensuring you have all of your normal daily medication on hand is important along with any migraine rescue medications that may be needed in the event of a headache.

  2. Do not be afraid to reach out to your physician, if you need added help with stress/ anxierty management and sleep aides.

4. Medical Providers

  1. Keep your scheduled appointments. Many physicians are offering telemedicine visits. Preventative health appointments with your physicians should not be place on hold until the pandemic is over. Your doctor is there for your health and well-being.

5. Sleep

  1. Not enough can be said about the importance of keeping a routine sleep schedule and getting a good nights sleep. Having a routine and scheduled bedtime, limiting caffeine and avoiding stress provoking media information can help with having better sleep. If you are having difficulty sleeping, then ask your medical provider for help with improving your sleep.

6. Social Support

  1. FaceTime, Zoom and other applications can help you stay connected to loved ones and friends while you are unable to visit in person. This can help to raise spirts for all involved and help close the distancing that the pandemic has created.

  2. If you feel the need for psychological support, there are applications and online resources to use from your home to access therapy. Contact your medical provider or insurance company to find out what resourced are available to you.

Management of stress is a lifelong pursuit. While this is important for everyone, the ability to manage high levels of stress is even more critical for reducing stress induced migraines whether it is during a worldwide pandemic or just during the pursuits of daily life.

I hope some of these tips will help with your journey or the journey of someone you love.

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