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Home Health First Aid Migraines 101

Migraines 101

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Migraines affect more than 3 million people per year.  Migraines are pulsating headaches, often on one side of the head. Physical activity may intensify the pain, but symptoms can vary from one person to another. New data reveals that the burden of chronic migraine extends beyond those living with the condition, significantly impacting family members as well. According to a web-based study of nearly 1000 women and men with Chronic Migraine, respondents reported missed activities and lost time with partners and children, as a result of the condition.


At the first sign of a migraine, retreat from your usual activities if possible.

  • Turn off the lights. Migraines often increase sensitivity to light and sound. Relax in a dark, quiet room. Sleep if you can.
  • Try temperature therapy. Apply hot or cold compresses to your head or neck. Ice packs have a numbing effect, which may dull the sensation of pain. Hot packs and heating pads can relax tense muscles. Warm showers or baths may have a similar effect.
  • Drink a caffeinated beverage. In small amounts, caffeine alone can relieve migraine pain in the early stages or enhance the pain-reducing effects of acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and aspirin.


What should you do if you start to get a migraine?

According to Dr. Susan W. Broner of the Manhattan Headache Center, If you haven’t yet received an official diagnosis, the first thing to do is have a conversation with your doctor. The new ID-Chronic Migraine (ID-CM) Screener Tool, which was developed by a team of headache experts and uses the most recent headache classification guidelines, may help you better communicate your symptoms and the impact they are having on your everyday life. You can access the tool at HealthyWomen.org/ChronicMigraineCenter.
If you have been diagnosed, work with your doctor to come up with a plan for managing your migraines. 

What trusted sources are out there to find more information?
If you suspect you have Chronic Migraine, it’s critical to seek a consultation with a healthcare provider, like a neurologist or headache specialist. To find one in your area, you can visit www.MyChronicMigraine.com.

Depending on your symptoms and treatment plan, lying down in a dark room, drinking fluids or taking medication right away may be helpful.

susan bronner2Susan W. Broner, M.D. is Medical Director of the Manhattan Headache Center. During seven years she served as attending neurologist at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Neurology Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. . After completing her neurology residency at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine she completed her Headache Fellowship at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center. She received her Doctorate of Medicine from S.U.N.Y. Stony Brook School of Medicine.


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