Ways to manage stress and migraines during COVID-19

National News

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WDVM) — Have you ever had a debilitating headache? Studies show that nearly 50 million Americans suffer from migraines and these uncertain times that we live have only added more stress to peoples plates. 

Migraines are more than just a headache. They are often accompanied by a deep throbbing sensation behind you eyes, temples or in the back of your head, that can last hours and even up to several days. Patients who have migraines will often display other neurological symptoms such as light and sound sensitivity, nausea, vomit, blurred vision and difficulty concentrating.

Some but not all migraines are triggered by stress. Managing your stress is key to navigating this pandemic. Being stuck at home, isolated, and worried about finances is enough to stress anyone out. Dr. Sommer Ebdlahad a Neurologist at the Virginia Spine Institute says getting sleep, exercise, reducing your alcohol and caffeine intake, and keeping in touch with those closest to you can help lower stress induce headaches and migraines.

“Your body reacts to stress so strongly that it’s the most common trigger for patients with migraines, up to 70% of people with migraines see stress as a trigger,” said Ebdlahad. “I like to recommend exercise because it metabolizes stress hormones that our body produces in response to stress and instead, it produces the good endorphins to help get you feeling better and help your brain destroy that chemical imbalance.”

Dr. Ebdlahad says if you’re taking something for your headache more than three days out of the week, you should consider talking to your neurologist.  

Ways to reduce migraines:

  1. Exercise regularly. Exercise is a proven way to prevent and sometimes treat headaches. Exercise also provides a break from the stress of daily life. Be careful to warm up slowly. Sudden, intense exercise can cause headaches.
  2. Curb the caffeine. Coffee, tea, soda, and other caffeinated drinks may soothe headache pain for some, but for others caffeine can trigger a rebound migraine once its effects wear off.
  3. Curb your alcohol intake. Alcohol can trigger a tension headache or migraine. If you know you, you should limit how much/often you drink.
  4. Take a break from smoking. Not only does smoking hurts your lungs, but it can also increase your head pain and other symptoms.
  5. Get sleep. Either too much or too little sleep can trigger a severe headache.  Being well-rested will help you tackle the day.
  6. Keep in touch with your loved ones. Social distancing should not mean social isolation. Technology provides ample avenues and opportunities for you to stay in contact with those you truly treasure.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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