Why Do Women Get Migraines?

Learn why some women get migraines and how to prevent them.

Sanaz Majd, MD

7 Quick and Dirty Tips to Avoid Migraines

Though addressing Mandy’s stress and sleep issues might be the way to solve her migraine problem, that answer won’t work for everyone. Here are some Quick and Dirty Tips that I discuss with all my patients who suffer from migraines:

  1. Decrease stress : Meditate. Find a hobby. Go to the beach (if you are lucky enough to live near one). Listen to smooth jazz. Exercise. Whatever seems to work to decrease your stress level, do it.

  2. Get enough sleep: Make sure to get enough sleep each night. Don’t sleep later on weekends, and maintain a routine sleep/wake schedule.

  3. Don’t skip meals: Maintain the same meal schedule each day, and don’t forget to eat breakfast.

  4. Limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol: Avoid food and drinks with caffeine, such as coffee, tea, sodas, and chocolate. Also, limit your alcohol intake—or avoid it completely. Too much can trigger migraines.

  5. Avoid excessive over-the-counter pain medications: Other than acetaminophen, many other pain medications are common triggers of migraine headaches, either from withdrawal or from over-exposure to them.

  6. Take your medicine right away: It’s important to take your medication as soon as the migraine begins, because the longer you wait to take it, the more difficult it may be to get rid of your migraine.

  7. Keep a headache diary: Divide the page in half; keep track of the foods you eat on the left hand column and your symptoms on the right half. Document the date, time, intensity (rating from 1 to 10), any preceding symptoms, medications and dosages taken, and what type of relief you experienced (if any). After a month or two, you will start to learn your own pattern of migraine triggers. Avoid these triggers like the plague, and bring this headache diary to your next doctor’s visit.

Once Mandy learned ways to battle her anxiety with public speaking and started getting more sleep, she and I were able to minimize her migraine headaches. However, had that not worked, I was ready to prescribe her certain prophylactic medications, medicines that prevent these debilitating headaches from occurring in the first place. In general, if you suffer from more than two migraine headaches a month, it may be a worthwhile idea to consider taking these preventative medications. And even if you don’t get more than two migraines a month, you may want to talk to your doctor about medications if the over-the-counter meds don’t work.

Make sure to listen to or read the House Call Doctor’s recent episode called “When Should You Worry About a Headache” to learn more about headaches.

Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only. This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider. Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.

Woman with Migraine image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Sanaz Majd, MD

Dr. Sanaz Majd is a board-certified Family Medicine physician who graduated from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. Her special interests are women's health and patient education. 

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