How to Cope With Daily Migraines

Can you even imagine having daily migraines? The thought sends shivers up my spine. The memory I have of old patterns brings a profound sense of appreciation for the life I have now. Meaning, I have some respite from the constant migraine pain and blur of the past. 

If you are reading this, you probably are having chronic migraines and are looking for relief in some form.

These chronic daily headaches have the ability to interfere significantly with your life.

Every area may suffer.

You will need to learn new skills to become more resilient and help you take back a little more control of your life.

Here are the basics and some tips to help you cope with this nasty type of migraine.

Migraines are disabling and intensely painful for some of us. And for others they are only painless, short lived visual experiences. This article is devoted to those of us who have daily migraines that just do not go away. The term for this is chronic. 

Another name for this type of condition is called transformed migraines. It falls into the “too hard basket” for most people, doctors included.

Sufferers who experience this type of migraine will most likely have had a history of migraine attacks beginning in childhood. The general age for daily migraines to start falls between 20 and 30. I was 32.

Daily Migraines – The Basics

The Mayo Clinic has noted that before migraines can be considered chronic, they need to occur at least 15 days a month, for at least 3 months in a row.

Many people experience having an aura prior to a migraine episode. An aura is a visual hallucination, smells or even sounds that are imagined. It is part of the entire migraine process, what I consider the early warning signals called the prodrome.

The fact is that less than twenty percent of sufferers actually get auras with their migraines. Lucky me! Yesterday my symptoms lasted all day before the pain phase started and I felt the need to take my Naramig at midnight.

These daily headaches should have at least two of the following to be considered chronic migraines:

  • Moderate to severe pain.

  • The pain is aggravated by routine physical activity.

  • Causes a throbbing, pulsating sensation.

  • The pain is on one side of the head.

Daily Migraines

In addition to the above, the headache should cause at least one of the following:

  • Sensitivity to sound and light.

  • Nausea/vomiting or both.

It is common for a person to have an occasional headache, but it is important to take headaches seriously. If you have two or more headaches a week and they are getting worse, then you need to seek medical help. 

If you need to take pain relievers for your headaches and have to take more than the recommended dosage of the over-the-counter pain medication in order to obtain relief, then you should consult your physician. 

If the OTC pain relievers just are not working for your headache, there is a good chance it might mean migraine. Headache tablets do not work with migraines. You might like to read migraine vs headache to find out why.

So, if your headaches are turning into migraines, are worsening, or the patterns change, please consult your physician asap.

A Word of Warning

Just a word of warning, you know I like to be overly cautious - please seek medical care immediately if your head pain:

  • has sudden onset and is severe;

  • follows a head injury;

  • is not relieved by rest and pain medication; or

  • is accompanied by a stiff neck, fever, double vision, numbness, confusion, or difficulty speaking.

You can never be too careful with head pain or trauma. You will hear me say that again and again.

Be Prepared for Hard Work

Daily Migraines are a Full Time Job

Keeping daily migraines from ruling your life can be hard work.

Finding effective pain relief might be easy, or it might become somewhat of an emotional roller coaster.

A migraine is a neurological disease; the headache is only a symptom of that disease.

Unlike a typical headache, a migraine has phases and numerous symptoms you will have to contend with. Some people experience some of the symptoms and others experience all of the symptoms, it is different with everyone.

Migraines are a genetically based disease. Individuals with a single parent having migraines have approximately a 50% chance of having them. A migraine can be induced by various controllable and uncontrollable triggers, including such things as weather patterns and menstrual cycles. 

It is important to know that migraines are a neurological disease and not a psychological disorder. A migraine can actually be life threatening although most are not. They can induce such conditions as strokes and comas, so they are not to be taken lightly.

The cause of daily migraines is not well understood. The current theory is that you develop a heightened response to pain signals or the part of your brain that suppresses pain signals is just not working properly.

Many people who take frequent headache medication can actually experience a rebound effect from taking medication too often. This can lead you to the risk of developing rebound headaches.

Treatment for daily migraines can include:

  • Antidepressants

  • Beta blockers

  • Anti-seizure medications

  • NSAID's

  • Botulinum toxin (Botox)

For more details read our article on migraine prevention medications aka prophylactics. There are some people that the above types of treatment do not help. Finding effective relief can become just like another full time job. 


Coping Tools for You

Daily Migraines Tool Box

Chronic daily migraines definitely have the ability to interfere with your life.

Your relationships, your job, and your quality of life, can definitely present you with challenges in a normal situation, never mind when you add the physical, emotional and spiritual challenges of suffering from daily migraines. 

You can become more proactive in your lifestyle choices. Your food choices alone can have a huge impact. Avoiding your migraine triggers is number one. This one is easy if you know the trigger, it is a bit more difficult when you don't. Learning to recognize your migraine headache triggers is essential. 

Reducing wheat based products with gluten in them; dairy products and sugar could make the world of difference. Learn to check labels on food items you purchase, or better yet – don’t but things you need to read labels on!

For example: fresh meat like chicken or beef, fish, fresh vegetables, and fruit have no labels! It is so easy to steam some fish or bake it in the oven for 20 minutes and steam some veggies. Simple clean, organic, if you can afford it - works! We know that really, don’t we. 

There are some alternative therapies that have been effective for some migraine sufferers. These include: acupuncture, biofeedback, meditation, massage, electrical stimulation of the occipital nerve, and herbs, vitamins and minerals. You might like to read natural migraine prevention

Finding a way to relax is essential. I think the easiest way is to lay down in a dark room and listen to a guided relaxation CD. I love these ones:

Here are the articles I recommend reading to add to your coping skills tool kit:

That should get you started!

Ways I Cope

I think a good approach is to take back control of your life where you can. Seek understanding, educate yourself on your condition, check out support groups, and consider having pain counseling.

I totally recommend getting some extra migraine support.

And most importantly, you must develop a pain management strategy with your doctor.

The experts are recommending a combination of traditional and alternative approaches to best deal with chronic daily migraines.

Here's the combination I use. Give them a try.

› How to Cope With Daily Migraines

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With this new information, what one thing can you do now to reduce your attacks?