It's like having a nail driven through your head: That's how some describe the concentrated, throbbing pain of a migraine. It's often accompanied by blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and noise. And it can last up to three days.
Roughly 30 million Americans get migraines, three times more women than men -- but sufferers can find relief. Your doctor may prescribe medications to lessen the severity or frequency of headaches; lifestyle changes, such as a consistent sleep schedule and healthy weight, also can help. Even alternative treatments may work: Research shows acupuncture may be effective.
Here are some other research-backed remedies, but talk to your doctor first.
Botox. You might know it for smoothing wrinkles, but botulinum toxin type A is also Food and Drug Administration-approved to treat chronic migraines in adults. Scientists at the University of Granada recently identified trigger points in the head and neck muscles for migraines and confirmed that injecting botox into specific spots reduces the frequency of attacks.
Exercise. Migraine sufferers might skip the gym, afraid that working out will provoke one, but scientists in Sweden found that exercise can be as effective as medication at preventing migraines. If you do work out, warm up slowly, stay hydrated, and be aware of exposure to humidity or hot or cold weather, which can trigger an attack.
Supplements. Some evidence suggests that high doses of riboflavin may prevent migraines, and coenzyme Q10 may decrease the frequency of the headache. Research indicates the herbs feverfew and butterbur can help prevent attacks.
The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, and plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon. Check www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.