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Migraines: Take Steps to Avoid the ER

The last place you want to be when you are suffering from a migraine is in a noisy, bright hospital emergency room (ER). Yet every 10 seconds someone goes to the emergency room with a headache or migraine.

Here’s how you can help keep your migraines from driving you to the ER.

  • Know and avoid your triggers. If you don’t know what triggers your migraines, keep a headache diary to help you learn. Common triggers include stress, alcohol, aged cheeses, caffeine (or the lack of), chocolate, hormonal changes, skipping meals, bright lights, including computer or TV screens, glare, and changes in sleeping patterns.

  • Be prepared. Carry your migraine relief medicine with you at all times and take it as soon as you feel the symptoms of a migraine begin. After taking the medicine, resting in a dark room may also help reduce your symptoms. Many acute rescue medications can be given if the initial dose doesn't work. An overlooked rescue medication that can be self-administered is migraine rescue injection. Injections work better than oral medications, and if it keeps you out of the ER then a self-infection is worth it, because in the ER you are likely to get an injection anyway.

  • Take preventive medicine as prescribed. These medications work best to prevent migraines and should be taken every day. If you have severe and frequent migraines, you may benefit from multiple preventive therapies.

  • If you don’t exercise regularly, start with just five or 10 minutes of walking every day. Don’t forget to get your doctor’s approval before you start.

  • Gradually add more time, speed, and distance to your exercise program. Try adding a few minutes to your walks each week. Walk briskly to help your heart beat faster, but be sure you can talk while walking. Aim to walk for 30 minutes or more every day.

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Jasmin, Luc, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 11/16/2015
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