Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Return of the Monster Migraine

I am allergic to Vegas. Seriously. I am allergic to alcohol, I break out in hideous hives every time I drink anything containing alcohol and, apparently, I cannot abide prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke, dry weather, and salty food without ending up with a hideous migraine. So, this weekend's trip to Vegas was quite a learning experience.

I have mentioned before that, prior to my weight loss, I got regular, severe migraines. Since I have lost weight those have all but completely disappeared. I will start to get one every once in a while, but they are much easier to stop in their tracks than they used to be. So on Saturday night, when I woke up with the worst migraine I've had since I lost weight, I panicked. I thought I had solved the problem. I hadn't prepared for this vacation like I used to, by packing all manner of migraine medication, because I have not needed it in over a year. Thus, at 1 am, I got online and started to look at natural remedies for migraines. In doing this research, I found a lot of information about migraine prevention. It turns out that quite a bit of what I did to lose weight falls within the scope of "natural migraine prevention strategies."  I had heard most of these suggestions before and I was aware that some of the lifestyle changes I made to lose weight may have played a part in my migraine relief, but a couple of the articles I read put into stark relief just how much these lifestyle changes paralleled the changes I needed to make to help reduce and relieve my migraines.

One suggestion was to increase intake of Riboflavin, which is found in found in milk, meat and green vegetables. One major diet change I made to lose weight was to greatly increase my intake of vegetables and two of my favorite vegetables, that I eat all the time - probably 5 or more times a week - are broccoli and spinach. Apparently, these are great sources of riboflavin. Another suggestion is to increase intake of Omega 3. Part of my dietary change was to increase the amount of fish I eat and decrease the amount of red meat I eat. The fist to which I will default is salmon, I eat it at least once or twice a week. Salmon, it turns out, is a great source of Omega 3.  Drinking more water is one way to help to prevent and relieve migraines. As part of my weight loss dietary changes, I had to start drinking more water. I still do not drink enough, to be honest, but I drink a lot more than I used to. In fact, one of the first things that I did on Saturday night / Sunday morning to get rid of the monster migraine was to drink a LOT of water. Increasing exercise is a migraine prevention strategy and another lifestyle change that I made to lose weight and one that I will continue. Finally, there were several prevention strategies related to reducing stress and relaxation. I have found that several of the activities I do to get my exercise are also incredibly relaxing: walking, hiking, and swimming, for example, are all quite relaxing for me. I always feel refreshed and de-stressed after I am done with a good walk or a nice swim.

So what brought on this monster migraine despite all of my great lifestyle changes, after over a year? I'm not a doctor and only time will tell - but my best guess is that I walked around the strip all day on Saturday, hung out in smoke-filled casinos, and - though I was pretty proud of how I balanced my calorie intake / output for the day - the calories I ate were not exactly healthy. I ate a lot of bread, and a lot of salt, and I didn't drink nearly enough water in Las Vegas' dry climate. I think that all worked together to result in a hideous migraine. Happily, after I drank a huge quantity of water (like 5 glasses), took two Advil, and got some sleep, my migraine was completely gone by 8am Sunday morning. A year and a half ago, that may not have been the case. On Sunday, I avoided the smoke-filled casinos, drank more water, spent some time at the end of the day in the spa, and ate a bit more reasonably (still not great, but went out and bought some fruit to eat) - and Sunday ended much better than Saturday did. No migraine. whew! Hopefully this was a one-time thing, and I have learned how to have a great time in Vegas without the resulting migraine.

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