A headache is the most common neurological condition in Bangladesh, especially among school children. The numbers are mind-boggling for a migraine as the third most prevalent illness in the world, making it 1 billion affected people worldwide, according to Migraine Research Foundation. And a staggering 90% of the sufferers have a family history of a migraine. But it is what it is, right? By any chance, if you are suffering from this maddening condition, just know that the force is with you on this one, that is, with healthy lifestyle choices. Here are a few starters:

One thing that can trigger migraine is a poor night’s sleep. Make sure you sleep on time every day and take shorter naps, say 20 minutes, for it may interfere with your sleep cycle. Also, remember that a proper meal at night before going to bed is very important. Don’t go to bed on an empty stomach or have heavy meals, caffeine, nicotine or alcohol right before bedtime. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, resort to meditation. You can opt for meditation apps such as The Mindfulness App, Calm, Headspace, Mindbody etc.

Have meals at regular intervals. Try not to skip meals. Opt for orange, yellow, and green vegetables, brown rice, non-citrus fruits, cranberries, natural sweeteners or flavors and vanilla extract to prevent any headaches. You can keep a food journal to track down what food worsen your pain. As a starter, you can check these off the list: old cheese, alcohol, citrus fruits, nitrites found in foods, food additives, such as MSG and even nuts. We all know how frustrating it can get to omit food items from your diet but you can start with a 2-week test run. This can help you isolate specific foods. The ketogenic diet is known for relieving pain from neurological disorders, for example.

Daily exercise is a great cure when you’re in need of relieving tension that your body builds up, especially in the case of migraines. During physical activity, your body releases certain chemicals that block pain signals that are sent to your brain. These chemicals are also associated with anxiety and depression, which in turn can trigger migraines. If you’re obese, you’re at a higher risk of suffering from chronic headaches. Hence, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is your weapon to defeat migraines. It could be any kind of exercise, walking, swimming, cycling, whatever you please. However, you must do it in moderation, as excessive physical exercise may worsen your condition.

There’s always over-the-counter pain medication for immediate pain relief. When you think that the pain is emerging, put yourself in a room with little or no light. It’s as repetitive as it is true that hydrating can help resolve nausea or dizziness caused by a migraine. If you don’t like drinking too much water, opt for an electrolyte-filled drink. Another easy and quick fix is the temperature therapy. You can pour in hot or cold water into a water bag and apply it gently to your head or neck. Opt for ice packs if the pain is intense; it numbs down the sensation of pain. On the other hand, hot packs and heating pads can relax tense muscles. After a long day, de-stress with a warm bath.

Periods are terrifying as is. On top of that, you may often feel a continuing throbbing pain on both sides of your head; that’s when you know that it couldn’t have gotten worse. Menarche, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, and the use of hormonal contraceptives and hormone replacement treatments may initiate a migraine frequently. Although the other conditions are rather subject to medical attention, menstrual migraine, caused by decreased levels of oestrogen, can be tackled with anti-inflammatory painkillers such as mefenamic acid. It helps reduce a migraine associated with heavy, painful periods. You can also take oestrogen supplements after consulting your doctor.

Inhale lavender essential oil or apply diluted to the temples to ease the pain. Another alternative is peppermint oil; the menthol solution to the forehead and temples are more effective than placebo for migraine-associated pain, nausea, and light sensitivity. Make a habit of incorporating ginger into your diet. Ginger can easy nausea and such other effects of a migraine. Acupressure is another effective way to relieve chronic headaches. It is considered a great alternative therapy. It is, as you may all know, applying pressure on certain pressure points on the body.

Raisa Rahim is the Sub Editor of ICE Today. Her passion lies in styling and she loves telling stories through makeup.