I suffer with the most common type of migraine diagnoses – Migraine without Aura. It’s usually there when I wake up, and it usually last 3 days with a 4th day for recovery. I feel it on the front of my forehead and sometimes, but rarely, get nausea. I have to hide away from light and sound in a blackened room drinking gallons of water and taking high strength codeine which occasionally helps. My first migraine was during school days but the last 10-15 years have been pretty consistent.
My triggers are bright sun and heat, thunderstorms, stress and anxiety, pressure of deadlines, strong smells, loud noises and crowds, too much screen time – and most recently the Covid vaccine!
Here’s a few things you might not know about Migraine
(from The Migraine Trust)
Read these bullets. Then pick your jaw up off the floor and read them again.
- Migraine is the 3rd most common disease in the the world (behind tooth decay and tension headaches) affecting 14.7% of the global population.
- Migraine is more prevalent than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined.
- Migraine affects 3x as many women as men.
- There are 190,000 migraine attacks every day in the UK
- Anxiety and depression are much more common in people with migraine than in healthy individuals.
- In the UK 3% of GP consultations and 30% of neurology consultations are for headaches with migraine the most common diagnosis.
- Undergraduates spend just 4 hours are spent on headache disorders in their medical training worldwide. In England 75% of medical schools do not have headache teaching on the curriculum.
- You’ll only find 12 trained headache specialist nurses for the whole of England.
If you lived in prehistoric times, the treatment would have been trepanning – drilling a hole through your skull to release the evil spirits. Happy Days.
So migraine has many types and many triggers so there is no “one size fits all”. The Migraine Trust website is a wealth of helpful resources.
So here’s my little list of things you can do around the home to make your life just a little bit more pleasant.
1 Choose calming paint colours
If you’re a migraine sufferer, you already know that all colours are not equal.
Dulux recently did some research with the National Migraine Society to create a migraine friendly colour scheme. They surveyed 1200 migraine sufferers and guess which colours came out as the most soothing.
Grey 68%; Green 52%; Teal 47% and Blue 41%
Interesting that these are the only colours you’ll find in my cottage. And that was before I read the research.
It helps that these colours are pretty popular with everyone at the moment. Just scroll any interiors hashtag on Instagram to see what I mean.
So if you’re wanting to create an oasis of calm – head for these
- peaceful muted greens to reflect the natural world
- quiet greys to make your space feel lighter
- soothing blues paired with warm neutrals to bring the sea and the sky inside.
Now check out the full migraine friendly palette from Dulux here, and get your painting overalls out.
2 Back to Black
Sometimes lying in a dark room is the only way to cope with a headache or migraine. My bedroom is south facing with windows on both sides so its pretty bright. I’ve doubled up with blackout blinds and curtains with blackout lining. It makes it properly dark at any time of day. And my husband and I both sleep better and longer with the blinds down at night. True story.
3 Embrace the plant life
There’s 2 parts to this one. First up, surround yourself with green life giving plants. They’ll improve the air quality in your home, and make you smile every time you see them. Win Win.
But what about the herbal medicine side of it.
- Try Ginger. It’s best known as a calming remedy for indigestion and nausea, but also for treating headaches by reducing inflammation and restricting blood vessels. Try diluted ginger oil massaged into your temples and forehead
- Basil is super effective against nausea, a significant migraine sympton
- Aniseed is a natural antispasmodic and will reduce vomiting and nausea. If you like the taste – I don’t!
- Peppermint is a hero product with with pain reliving properties especially good rubbed on the forehead and temples
- We all know about Lavender, a natural sedative, and great for headaches. Who loves a lavender bath? How about a lavender bag under your pillow, or a spritz of lavender linen spray on your bed.
4 Dim those devices
This one is a self discipline thing. We’re all addicted to our phones, right? It’s a hard habit to break.
The truth is our devices emit blue light which plays a role in eyestrain (and retinal damage), headaches and blurry vision. In the evening, the blue light from our devices suppressed melotonin which often leads to the disruption of sleep. which in itself can lead to migraine.
So here’s what you need to change
- Use Night Mode on your phone (iphone Settings – Display & Brightness – Night Shift eg 7pm – 8am)
- Step away from your phone or laptop at least 2-3 hours before bed.
- Change your light bulbs to warmer tones and colours. Opt for natural light where possible and get rid of fluorescents immediately.
5 Can you smell that?
Studies have shown that up to 50% of migraine sufferers experience a heightened sensitivity to odour during their migraine phases, and that strong smells can trigger acute migraine attacks.
It’s known as OSMOPHOBIA – the sensitivity to smell.
For me it’s anything perfumed from actual perfume (which I sadly haven’t used for about 2 years) to strongly scented candles and melts, air fresheners (especially in the car)
Also coffee. If I’m in the early stages of a migraine, I can’t go near the coffee machine, even though normally you can’t keep me away from it.
What are your sensitive smells?
6 Fresh air. Clear head
Air quality is a hot topic for our health and our environment. And it should be in our offices and homes too.
- Domestic appliances need testing to make sure they’re not emitting anything harmful.
- Carbon Monoxide is a problem so if you have a CO2 detector don’t rely on it – it will only go off when the levels are life threatening (150ppm). Most migraine sufferers are affected by 4ppm. Try getting your indoor air professionally tested
- Keep a check on mold and allergens like dust mites which can lead to headaches. Regularly run a dehumidifier to keep your home’s humidity low. Change your bedding weekly to keep the mites at bay.
- Choose unscented nontoxic cleaning products and make sure your vacuum cleaner is up to the job.
- Fling those windows open. Keeping your home ventilated is as important as keeping it insulation, especially if you’re prone to headaches.
7 Keep Calm & light a candle
But not just any candle. Make sure it’s made with clean ingredients and it’s a smell that agrees with you. My top choices are peppermint, eucalyptus and lavender. Gentle fragrances that calm your mind and help you to relax,
Accompanied by an evening bubble bath. Always.
That’s all for now.