Migraine and Paint Colours – It Matters

It might sound strange, but research has found that the colour you paint your walls can have an effect on your migraine attacks.

Healthcare communications agency 11 London, in conjunction with Dulux, TEVA UK, and the National Migraine Centre, worked to create a migraine-friendly colour scheme. After surveying over 1,200 migraine sufferers about what colours they found most soothing, some clear favourite shades were identified.

Grey shades were the most popular (chosen by 68%), followed by light green shades (52%), teal (47%), and light blue shades (41%).

As you might expect, they were also some colours which were deemed as being unhelpful to migraine sufferers. Bright colours such as orange and yellow were chosen as soothing by only 5% of respondents, but red was identified as a “problem colour”.

Finding that green shades were favoured by many migraine sufferers may not come as a huge surprise to those who already know about the research which has been conducted into the effects which different colours of light have on migraine sufferers.

In past studies it was found that exposure to any colour of light except green light intensified migraine attacks. Green light on the other hand was significantly less likely to trigger head pain, and in one study around 20% of participants reported that exposure to green light actually made their migraine attacks less painful.

Of course not all migraine sufferers are alike, and a colour which soothes one migraine sufferer may aggravate another. All the same, this “migraine-friendly colour palette” may be worth bearing in mind if you’re a migraine sufferer looking to do some redecorating soon.

Basic Tips For Fighting Migraines

fighting migraines

 

There are no known cures for migraines, but there are certainly some simple things you can do to help alleviate the effects of migraine and to reduce how often and how badly you get them. Although all migraine sufferers are different, and many sufferers will need medical treatment to help them cope with their migraines, there should be at least one thing on this list that will help a little.

 

Eat Regularly

Skipping meals is a big problem for migraine sufferers. Missing a meal can lead to a drop in blood sugar levels, and an awful migraine attack. Making sure to eat regularly helps to keep blood sugar levels steady – some migraineurs find that they need to eat every two hours. How often you need to eat will be personal to you.

 

Get Regular Exercise

A pattern of regular and moderately strenuous exercise can be really helpful in reducing the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. It doesn’t need to be anything too extreme – in fact high intensity exercise like running or racquet sports can be a trigger for some sufferers; but yoga and walking are both forms of exercise which have been recommended as being beneficial. In terms of amount, around 30 minutes, thrice-weekly is enough to make a difference. However, the most important thing is that it is a form of exercise which you enjoy.

 

Eliminate Strong Odours

Strong smells can be a migraine trigger for many people. This can make the workplace a nightmare for some – what with all of the highly scented cleaning products used, colleagues wearing cologne, and air fresheners being used in communal spaces. While you can’t guard against all smells at work or in the outside world (car fumes!), at home at least you can make sure to use natural cleaning products that are scent-free, and to keep away from the likes of room sprays and scented candles!

 

Keep A Routine

Going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day is key for many sufferers in guarding against migraine attacks, as is eating at the same times each day. In fact, the more of a routine you can have in what you do, the better. This is why some migraine sufferers find that they can’t work shift work; as the unpredictable hours play havoc with their routines and triggers attacks on a more regular and painful basis.

A New Migraine App For Children

migraine app for children

As many migraine sufferers are all too well aware, the condition can be an isolating one. It’s not an easy thing for those who don’t suffer from them to fully understand – a common issue of invisible illnesses the world over.

 

With this isolation in mind, an app designed for young migraine sufferers has been developed by a pair from Cambridge who experienced this migraine-isolation issue in their own childhoods. They hope that their app will be able to address the lack of connection which younger sufferers in particular can feel.

 

The app is called Happyr Health, and it has been created alongside psychologists and migraine experts. It features an augmented reality avatar that children can talk to within a safe and secure environment. From the child’s conversations, and from information from a parent dashboard, the app also aims to identify individual migraine triggers, in addition to being a place where the child can relieve their worries and talk openly about their migraines.

 

It’s still early days for Happyr Health, but it has good foundations – in the summer its founders were awarded a £10,000 Cambridge University Entrepreneurs grant, and there has been a crowdfunding appeal to help get the app into the marketplace.

 

Happyr Health has partnered with the National Migraine Centre for making the beta version of the app, with the first mobile version of the app due to be launched in the New Year (2021) and compatible with Google Chrome.

 

Naturally, talking to real people is key in fighting isolation and loneliness, but Happyr Health could prove to be an invaluable resource for children who need a place to talk freely and without fear about their migraine experiences.

Travel Tips for Migraine Sufferers – Part Two

Sadly, even in a normal year, travelling is not the easiest thing for migraine sufferers to do. Changes in things such as routine, climate, and altitude (flying is not always migraine-friendly) can lead to a migraine attack.

 

travel tips

 

This is part two of our travel tips for migraine sufferers. Hopefully these tips will help to make your future travels that much smoother and less impacted by your migraines.

 

Choose Your Transport Wisely

The changing altitude (and therefore changing pressure levels) which comes with flying may make it a big no-no for you. Maybe plan to travel by train, boat, or car if you can. If you can’t, and the flight is a long one, try to choose a flight that doesn’t involve changing planes so you minimise the number of pressure changes you have to experience during your journey.

 

Travel to Similar

A sudden change in temperature, air pressure, or humidity are all things which migraine sufferers have noted as being a migraine trigger. Going from somewhere experiencing cold winter weather and low air pressure to somewhere with boiling sun and high pressure is likely to throw your body into a tailspin. If weather changes are a major migraine trigger for you, try to travel to places which have a vaguely similar climate to the one you’re already in. Or, at least, maybe save trips to hot countries for when it’s summer where you live. It will still be a change in temperature, but the difference won’t be so extreme and may be more manageable.

 

Clothing in Transit

When you’re travelling, the last thing you want is any pressure from what you’re wearing. Choose your comfiest clothes to travel in and never mind if they’re old joggers and a hoodie. The idea is to reduce your potential stress as much as possible. The more comfortable you are, hopefully the more relaxed you are.

 

Clothing on Arrival

If you are travelling to somewhere with a different climate to the one you’ve just come from, be prepared. Have a change of clothes with you in your hand luggage, or at the top of your suitcase, which you can quickly change into as soon as you arrive at the other end. Sweating buckets because you’re in winter clothes on a Mediterranean island is going to do your migraine risk no good at all, and will also quickly make you dehydrated too!

 

Schedule in Rest

Being constantly on the go is not great for migraine sufferers. Yes, you want to experience as much as you can of the place you’re visiting, but if you overdo it and get a migraine attack, that’s not going to help you do that. When you plan your itinerary, schedule in rest days, or rest afternoons if not whole days, where you can relax and recharge. This may mean resting in your room, or you may relax by reading a book in a quiet café or doing some calm activity that doesn’t take much energy (either emotional or physical). By doing a bit less to prevent a migraine attack, you may be able to do more overall.

Travel Tips for Migraine Sufferers – Part One

Covid-19 has made travel this year an activity which most of us have been unable to enjoy. With potential solutions to the pandemic on the horizon (at least partial solutions), the prospect of travelling next year is looking far more likely.

 

 

For those that want to travel, the risk of migraine attacks ruining their trip can make them think far more than just twice about whether or not to go, but hopefully following these travel tips will help you to travel with the minimum amount of pain.

 

Plan Ahead

Stress is a major migraine trigger. In fact, it has been listed as the top migraine trigger in multiple studies of migraine sufferers. With this is mind, keeping stress levels as low as possible is vital, and planning in advance will help to do that.

Three things you can do when planning ahead are:

  • Pack your bags at least a day in advance so you’re in no rush and have plenty of time to fetch any last-minute essentials.
  • Plan leeway into your travel schedule so you can be sure to get to the airport or train station etc in plenty of time.
  • Work downtime into your itinerary so you have time after you arrive to recover from the journey before you start doing things.

 

Make A Migraine Travel Kit

If a migraine strikes while you are travelling, you don’t want to be rooting through your suitcase trying to find what you need – especially if that suitcase may be in the hold of a plane! Pack an emergency kit you can keep on you at all times so you’re always ready no matter when or where a migraine may hit. This kit may include:

  • An eye mask and/or sunglasses to guard against harsh and flickering lights
  • Your migraine pain medication
  • Earplugs
  • A heat/cool pack
  • A snack
  • Water
  • A note explaining your condition in English, but also in the language of the area you are travelling to.

 

Adapt in Advance

Disrupted sleep patterns can be another major migraine trigger for sufferers, so if you’re travelling to somewhere with a different time zone, start to adapt to it in advance. Try moving your day by half an hour each day ahead of your trip. If you don’t have long before you go, try moving it by an hour. Getting your body used to waking up earlier/later than it’s used to by small degrees is much kinder than moving your day by four hours all at once!

 

Fighting Migraines With Green Light

green light

 

Migraine sufferers will know well the pain of being around flickering bulbs and harsh fluorescent strip-lights. Not all lighting is migraineur-friendly, and some of it is of such a bad or triggering quality that it helps to bring on a migraine attack.

 

There are some lights that could be beneficial however, and actually reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine sufferers’ attacks.

 

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona Health Sciences found that a very specific wavelength of green light, when used in a therapeutic manner, resulted in a 60% reduction in the pain intensity of the headache phase of migraine attacks, and reduced the number of days per month that sufferers had migraine headaches.

 

The study involved 29 people who suffered from either episodic or chronic migraines, and who had not found traditional therapies such as Botox injections and oral medications effective. During the study, these participants were exposed to white light for between one and two hours a day for ten weeks. The participants were given a two-week break, and then exposed to green light for between one and two hours a day for ten weeks.

 

The participants reported back the effects of the treatment through regular surveys and questionnaires. Using a scale of 0 to 10, it was found that green light resulted in a 60% pain reduction (from a pain rating of 8 to 3.2), that it reduced the duration of the headache pain, and that it improved participants’ ability to perform chores, exercise, work, and to fall and stay asleep.

 

As well as being an inexpensive form of therapy, the green light therapy was seen as a good option for migraine sufferers as it did not result in any side effects for the participants.

 

The lead author of the study, Mohab Ibrahim, MD, PhD, explained that;

 

“It’s not any green light. It has to be the right intensity, the right frequency, the right exposure time and the right exposure methods. Just like with medications, there is a sweet spot with light.”

 

“As a physician, this is really exciting. Now I have another tool in my toolbox to treat one of the most difficult neurological conditions — migraine.”

 

Are Migraines Putting Women Off Pregnancy?

pregnancy

According to research published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, almost 20% of women with migraines said that they avoided pregnancy specifically because of their migraines.

 

The researchers who reported the findings evaluated responses from women with migraines who took part in the American Registry for Migraine Research – an observational study which signed up participants from specialty headache clinics across the US. Between February 2016 and September 2019, 607 women with migraines completed questionnaires for the study.

 

Results found that, of the 19.9% of women who avoided pregnancy because of their migraines, 72.5% believed that their migraines would get worse during a pregnancy, 76% believed that their migraine medication would impact on their baby’s development, and 82.6% felt that their migraines would make raising a child more difficult. One shocking finding from the questionnaire results was that 72.7% of the women who avoided pregnancy were worried that the child would have an increased risk for migraines

How to Get Better Sleep (And Maybe Fewer Migraines?)

better sleep

When you suffer from migraines, you can easily find that your sleep is disrupted. That is if it is not impossible to get at times! Not only do migraines badly affect sleep, but since not enough (or, conversely, too much) sleep is a migraine trigger for many sufferers, it can become a vicious cycle of interrupted sleep from migraines leading to more migraines, leading to more bad nights, and so on.

On the positive side, there are some things you can do to help maintain a good quality of sleep, and in turn, hopefully reduce the frequency and severity of migraines you experience.

 

Stick to a schedule

If you regularly fall asleep and wake up at the same time each day, your body will become used to the routine and will be able to regulate your body clock. Giving your body a consistent amount of sleep will help it to run smoothly.

 

Make a ritual

If you have a ritual set of activities you do before you go to bed your body will know that it’s time for sleep, and make it that much easier for it to switch off! Try to stay away from screens for at least an hour before you go to bed. The light which screens emit have been proven to disrupt sleep and make it harder to switch your body off. Maybe read a book before bed, have a bath, or do half an hour of mediation. Whatever works for you

 

Separate your sleep space

If you don’t have a comfortable and calm space to fall asleep in, your body will find it so much harder to drop off. Keep your bed as a place you sleep, and don’t be tempted to visit it during the day, or watch TV from bed, or (even worse!) work in bed.

Migraine Treatments – Ask Yourself If They Work

migraine treatments

 

Each migraineur is an individual whose migraine attacks will be unique to them. This means the length of their attacks will differ from other sufferers, as will their symptoms, their attack frequency, and what treatments are effective for them.

 

Since not everyone will respond to every migraine treatment, it’s important to be able to find out if a treatment is effective quickly. If the treatment doesn’t work, it’s time to try something else. Sadly there is no out-and-out, problem-solved cure for migraines – so a 100% stop to migraines is not a plausible outcome to measure efficacy against.

 

Instead these are some questions which you can ask yourself:

 

  • Are you pain-free in 2-4 hours?

 

  • Are you able to function normally (or close to normal) in 3-4 hours?

 

  • Does your headache respond to the treatment consistently at least 50% of the time?

 

  • Are you comfortable with taking the treatment prescribed and still able to plan your day?

 

The American Migraine Association says that if you responded “no” to one or more of these questions then your treatment should be reassessed.

However, it normally takes a few months to see whether a migraine treatment is effective or not. So you do have to give it some time before deciding that a specific treatment is not for you.

It’s also worth asking whether you are taking your treatment early enough in the migraine attack for it to be effective. There is a “window of opportunity” which is typically the two hours after the onset of head pain. After this time there is less chance that the body will respond to the treatment.

Could A Magnesium Deficiency Be Making Your Migraines Worse?

magnesium deficiency

There are a variety of different factors which might make someone more likely to suffer from migraines. For example, you are more likely to suffer from migraines if you are; female, if you suffer from depression, if your family has a history of migraines, and these are to name just a few.

A magnesium deficiency is another thing which can make it more likely that a person will suffer from migraines.

A systematic review (the findings of which were published in the scientific journal Nutrients) found that there is a correlation between magnesium deficiency and headaches; and that this is an independent risk factor for migraines. Not ingesting enough magnesium, in addition to increased loss of it throughout the digestion process, can contribute to the deficiency.

It is possible to include more magnesium in your diet by eating foods that contain high levels of magnesium such as nuts, dark leafy greens, seeds, whole grains, beans and fish. It is also an option for those who have a migraine deficiency to take tablet supplements, or magnesium salts (though a doctor should be consulted before starting to take supplements).

Magnesium is an important mineral for the body to have. It is involved in enzyme and nerve activity, DNA and protein synthesis, and many key bodily functions. In terms of migraines specifically, magnesium has been shown to inhibit pro-inflammatory intracellular signalling. For some migraine sufferers, inflammation of blood vessels in the brain is a key element of their migraines – so a lack of magnesium (which helps to keep inflammation down) is especially bad news.

It’s also worth noting that a lack of magnesium was found in some migraineurs who suffered with aura migraines as a result of cortical spreading depression. Investigators explained that magnesium decreases the level of circulating calcitonin gene-related peptide, which is “involved in migraine pathogenesis through its ability to dilate intracranial blood vessels and produce nociceptive stimuli.” 

It has been reported that magnesium, with its relative lack of side effects, is particularly compelling for the treatment of migraines and headaches within groups in which side effects are less well tolerated (such as children, pregnant women, and the elderly population). The review authors therefore concluded that, “the use of oral magnesium salt represents a well-tolerated and inexpensive addition for the treatment of headache patients, to reduce the frequency of attacks and the costs of treatment both in terms of economic burden and adverse events”.