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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Migraine Hygiene

When we hear the word hygiene, we think of cleanliness with regard to our bodies. Migraine hygiene refers to the many steps that can be taken to avoid or cope with migraines.

As a parent of a migraineur, I found that my son was receptive to learning strategies that prevented or reduced pain; however, he refused to apply them. I think this was because it was so difficult for him to remember what he had learned when he was experiencing pain.

I believe this ability comes with maturation. Now that he is twelve he will actively drink enough water, put himself to sleep, or avoid triggers. Just as symptoms and types of migraines vary from person to person; migraine hygiene is unique to each individual.

My son must incorporate the following "rituals" in his daily life: maintaining a certain level of hydration, avoiding extreme heat, eating 3 meals plus 2 snacks every day, maintaining a consistent bed time, avoiding foods with MSG, avoiding artificial odors (candles), and reducing stress.

What steps does your child take to control his or her migraine headaches? Please share. Hopefully, this information will help other individuals who are struggling to cope with this condition.

Saturday, July 7, 2007


When my son was in third grade, he learned a number of different biofeedback techniques to help him relax and reduce his pain. A psychologist who specialized in pain management worked with him one hour a week for a couple of months.

He was taught how to visualize a pleasant setting by thinking about the sights and sounds of a particular locale.

He was also taught how to rub his hands together in order to bring the flow of blood to his hands rather than his head. This was called "Hot Hands."

She also taught him deep breathing, how to make his body feel loose and relaxed like a rag doll and something called "Tense and Release." My son would tense a part of his body and then try to sustain a relaxed state after releasing the tension.

As with other remedies mentioned in this blog, they must be tried by each individual to determine what works.

To learn more about relaxation techniques go to this link.


Sometimes my son asks me to sprinkle lavender oil on his pillow when he has a bad migraine. The smell of the oil is soothing and helps him to relax. He also has a small pillow, which is filled with lavender and can be placed on his forehead or around his neck.

Basically, we use whatever makes him comfortable when he is dealing with a bad headache. Through trial and error we have found a number of things which help control his pain. It's essential to try different remedies to see what works for you!

If you are interested in trying lavender, many pharmacies, health food stores, or even specialty bath stores sell this pleasant smelling herb.

Learn more about the importance of using natural remedies and relaxation.

Phonophobia and Photophobia

What is phonophobia?

It's the heightened sensitivity to sound and what I find really interesting is that the sound does not have to be loud. When my son is entering the pre-migraine phase, he is often phonophobic and becomes very irritable. Hearing a conversation at a normal volume is very unpleasant for him. According to his neurologist, there is no way to desensitize him. He just has to learn to cope with this sensitivity.

What do I do when my son is phonophobic?

I merely try to get him to concentrate on relaxing and limit the amount of sound in his environment. As you can imagine, this is really hard when a younger sibling is present! Usually, my son has a meltdown, and with help eventually relaxes and calms down.

Some children and adults experience a heightened sensitivity to light rather than sound. This is called photophobia, and many people who experience this feel better in a dark or dimly lit room.

It turns out that I am phonophobic and never knew this until my son's migraines were diagnosed. It seems that this phenomena is becoming more well known today, and many people that I meet who are also migraineurs admit they can't stand certain sounds when they have a migraine.

Sleep - The Perfect Remedy

I call sleep our bodies' natural reset button. Sleep helps migraine sufferers return to a normal, pain-free state just as the reset button on our computers and electronic equipment helps to return to a normal state of digital operation.

When my son or
I have a migraine, falling into a deep sleep naturally resets our brains, which results in either eliminating the pain or reducing it! So, the next time you have a bad migraine give sleep a try. It may be a remedy that makes a difference, enabling you to reduce the duration of your migraine!

I noticed that my son was not able to fall into a deep sleep during a migraine until he became older. He would say that he couldn't fall asleep until it was his bedtime. He is now a pre-adolescent and has recently put himself to bed (right in the middle of the day) when he has a very bad migraine. He sleeps for 1 - 2 hours and wakes up happy, smiling and feeling great!

My husband and I almost always rub my son's head when he has a migraine. This calms him down and reduces the pain so he can fall asleep.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Learning how to relax

My son was taught a variety of relaxation techniques to use when he began to feel pain. He learned these techniques from a psychologist who specialized in pain management. As a migraine sufferer, I always found it hard to relax during an extremely painful migraine episode. In fact, the only thing that worked for me was to concentrate during the moments when the pain subsided a little. It was then that I would breathe deeply and feel my body relax a little.

Different Children, Different Symptoms

I know 5 children including my son who all experience migraine headaches, and all have different symptoms. It's important to understand, as a parent, that a migraine may occur without vision problems (visual aura), without vomiting, and without a long period of pain. There are many types of symptoms and many types of migraines.

My son began telling me that his head hurt when he was in kindergarten. In fact, he had a migraine every day in school. When I picked him up at the end of the day, he was a bear! He was extremely irritable and wanted to get home immediately.

His symptoms included irritability, heightened sensitivity to sounds, and pain in his forehead. If the migraine was severe, he would experience pain in his temples as well as the top of his head. Unlike many adult migraines, his pain was not limited to one side of the head.

Many of my son's friends experience episodes of vomiting and extreme pain. But not everyone experiences migraines in this fashion. In fact, many children have very quick migraines that last less than 30 minutes.

So, if your child is uncomfortable, and you know that he or she is in pain, it's helpful to learn about the many symptoms and types of migraines.

Learn about migraines during childhood.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Finding the Right Doctor

It took me a while to find a doctor who took my son's complaints seriously. It wasn't until I took my son to an allergist that my son's complaints were investigated thoroughly. It's important to keep searching if your child is complaining. After consulting with the allergist, my son was seen by a pediatric Ear, Nose and Throat doctor. This ENT doctor was the first person to recommend that I take my son to a neurologist. I actually tried 3 different pediatricians until I found one who also recommended that I take my son to a neurologist. Unfortunately, many pediatricians are not aware of childhood migraines, and if they are, they are not aware of the diverse symptoms that are exhibited by children with migraines.

Drinking Lots of Water

Water consumption is critical for preventing and controlling migraines. Children must keep hydrated not only during the hot summer months but all year long. Many children spend at least 6 hours a day in classrooms, which are dry and often over-heated, especially during the winter months. So, drinking plenty of water is a daily habit that can successfully reduce the onset of migraines.