– Answers by Dr. Katz, MD, PhD, of the Moran Eye Institute at the University of Utah Medical Center
Q: Are migraines curable?
A: Right now migraines are not curable. It’s a lifelong condition. People do tend to have fewer migraines as they get into their 60s and 70s, but it’s not a curable condition.
Q: Are there any lifestyle treatments for migraines?
A: In my clinical practice at the University of Utah, the number one lifestyle problem I encounter is not enough sleep. Many migraine patients have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep and you may need to get advice from your doctor if you have problems with insomnia. How much one needs to sleep varies from individual to individual, but in general, patients with migraine need a good 8-hour rest each night to feel their best.
Too much caffeine is another way to rev-up your headaches. You don’t need to eliminate caffeine, just moderate it!
Exercise is another important lifestyle change that can improve migraine as well as other health issues.
Finally, if you are light sensitive, especially to artificial indoor light, or if light can trigger migraines for you, you should consider therapeutic eyewear. This eyewear is effective at blocking specific wavelengths of light, that have been found to be particularly bothersome to migraine sufferers.
Q: What are some tools to cure or treat migraine?
A: A number of different migraine treatments exists, however, they are not cures. One of the best tools to treat migraines is avoidance. So many migraines are triggered by things like stress, not getting enough sleep, eating certain foods, skipping a meal, and certain smells. Avoiding or mitigating those factors as much as possible is one of the best ways that people treat their migraine headaches.
In addition to avoidance, there are a number of drugs that are available for treating migraine, there are injections of Botox, and there are tinted spectacles like Axon’s migraine glasses that are used to manage the impact of light. These are all different methods that people can use to address their migraines.
Q: How can I get rid of a migraine naturally?
A: It’s difficult to get rid of a migraine with natural treatment. Some people will try to seclude themselves into a dark, quiet room and that can be helpful. Get rest and rehydrate. Some people find that some herbal supplements can help with treating a migraine. But really, other than roughing it out, there aren’t too many natural remedies for an acute migraine headache attack. There are lots of natural ways to avoid getting a headache, but once you get a migraine headache, it’s really hard to shake.
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Q: Are there any effective remedies/treatments for migraines and headaches apart from painkillers?
A: Some physicians will prescribe opiate painkillers for migraine patients. This class of drugs includes morphine-like substances such as codeine, hydroxycodone, and oxydodone. These drugs can be effective at first, but often lead to rebound headaches and a worsening of headache symptoms. These medications should be used sparingly or not at all.
Over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, acetominophen, ibuprofen, naproxen and caffeine can be helpful, but can also lead to rebound headaches if overused. As a rule, one should not take more than 5 pills per day or 15 pills per week. Migraine-specific treatments like sumatriptan are often more effective and less likely to cause rebound.
Therapeutic eyewear is an inexpensive tool that many patients and doctors overlook. If you have light sensitivity, especially to artificial indoor light, therapeutic eyewear can be very helpful. If you do have sensitivity to light – and 80-90% of sufferers do, you may want to consider Migraine Glasses.
Q: Are tinted glasses different than pinhole glasses for migraines?
A: Pinhole glasses could be used in somebody who’s profoundly light sensitive, but if you think about looking through a pinhole, it would limit your vision to such a small area that it would really not be practical to work or engage in a social activity and so tinted glasses allow you to protect your eyes from the light and still allow you to function and focus.
Q: Could MDMA be more harmful if you are experiencing migraine with aura?
A: There are some anecdotes on the internet of patients using MDMA to treat migraines, but the effects of this drug on migraine have not been carefully studied. The side effects of MDMA may include mania-like experiences, visual hallucinations, and synesthesia among other mood-altering symptoms. Migraines may include nausea, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, and vertigo. For these reasons, mixing MDMA and migraine is probably unwise.
Q: Can you treat migraines without taking prescription drugs?
A: Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for migraines and the cause of migraines remains unknown. There are many researchers who are dedicated to finding cures for migraines, but a cure remains elusive. For more information on migraine research, visit the following links:
Migraine Research Foundation – About Migraine
American Migraine Foundation – Migraine Research
Non-prescription migraine prevention can include feverfew, vitamin B2, and magnesium.
In my research at the University of Utah, I’ve found that therapeutic eyewear, although not a cure, can ameliorate the symptoms of light sensitivity that many migraine patients suffer from. These glasses for migraines are effective in blocking light frequencies that may trigger migraine attacks.