Search results for the tag, "Migraines"

July 6th, 2009

Of Migraines and Moderation

Balance Is the Key to Life

In college, I began experiencing severe headaches. The symptoms were classic migraine: Lightness is blinding, one side of my head (the right) is throbbing, and relief arrives only after at least an hour lying in bed in a dark room.

A physician at the health center clarified the causes. I had been pulling a series of all-nighters, during which I didn’t eat and stole but an hour or two of sleep, after which I rushed to class without breakfast. To wit, sleep deprivation + lack of food = migraine. (To paraphrase George Orwell, Sometimes it takes a MD “to see what is in front of one’s nose.”)

Several months later, a consultation with a neurologist made me aware of Excedrin Migraine. If taken preemptively rather than reactively, this over-the-counter medicine proved to be a panacea for what turned out to be an occassional flare-up.

Of course, pills don’t address root causes, and for the past week and a half, I’ve found myself back in migraine misery. A chart I kept of the time of the episodes, what I ate in the preceding 12 hours, and how many hours I slept the night before, revealed my good old friend: Sleep deprivation + lack of food = migraine.

Now, common sense says the solution is to sleep better and eat better.  Yet there’s a broader point about living better.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve pooh-poohed my health. While I’ve never smoked or drank coffee, or even much alcohol outside of social settings, I’ve lived off fast food and Coke. I stopped going to the gym after graduating, I nap regularly because of an erratic sleep schedule, and I seek out stressful situations. While these bad habits don’t cause headaches, they bring about an environment that facilitates them.

Accordingly, if there’s an upside to my recent bout of migraines, it’s that I’m convinced any road to recovery must be holistic. I can’t just start swimming again (as I’ve done); I need to establish a daily exercise routine. I can’t just stop napping after work; I need to become an early riser, on both weekdays and weekends. I can’t just stop eating at Wendy’s; I need to change my diet.

The road to a migraine-free life goes through a moderate lifestyle.