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Treating Migraine : Exercise and Sleep, Managing Time

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Exercise and Sleep

Q: Can I exercise when I have a migraine attack?
A: You must be sure you have completely aborted the attack before you exercise, and you should decrease the intensity of your workout. You must be well hydrated and avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). You may want to forego your usual workout and take a relaxing walk instead.
Q: Can I still exercise if I have had to repeat my medication?
A: Do not exercise if you have not been able to abort your migraine attack within 2 hours. If the attack was so severe that it required a second dose of medication, exercise could trigger a recurrence of the attack. If you used a sedating antiemetic with your repeat medication it would be risky to exercise—you need to rest. You can return to your exercise routine the next day, but reduce the intensity.
Q: How can I avoid getting away from my exercise routine once I have had a migraine attack?
A: Having missed a day or two of exercise due to migraine, you might find it difficult to get back to your routine. Try to do this slowly. The important thing is to do something each day and gradually increase the intensity of your exercise. You must avoid dehydration and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) during exercise since you will be more vulnerable to another attack in the days following one.
Q: Can my sleep patterns affect my migraine attacks?
A: Irregular sleep habits can trigger migraine attacks. The problem arises when sedating medications have made you sleep all day, and you cannot sleep at night. Another problem is the insomnia that may occur the night before an attack. If you can’t fall asleep, try using relaxation techniques. You may use antiemetics for sedation, but do not use sedatives, which could trigger another attack.

Managing Time

Q: How do I avoid losing time as a result of migraine attacks?
A: Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid giving up time to a migraine attack. If you do not take the time needed to treat migraine attacks adequately, they will only increase in frequency and steal more of your time. Too many headache sufferers push through their migraine attacks, allowing the headaches and associated symptoms to decrease their productivity. A migraine attack is more than just a headache. The associated symptoms that adversely affect your ability to concentrate and your mood diminish your quality of life. The only way to avoid lost time to migraine attacks is to prevent the attacks.
Q: After a migraine, I often try to make up for lost time. Can this trigger another attack?
A: In the first day or so following a migraine attack, you are more vulnerable to another attack. Rather than over-committing yourself the day after a migraine attack, you need to lighten your workload. If you overdo things, you will simply risk triggering another attack and fall even further behind in your work.
Q: What if I cannot take the time to treat a migraine attack?
A: If you continue to push yourself through a migraine attack, you will increase the duration of the attack. By not completely aborting migraine attacks, you cause progression of the disease that leads to chronic daily headache. You may need to ask for help or transfer some of your responsibilities intermittently. This should not be necessary often, since with appropriate preventive therapy most of your migraine attacks should be easily treated with one dose of medication.
Q: How important is it that I track my migraine attacks?
A: Once you have completely aborted your migraine attack it is important that you document the attack in your headache diary. You will need to review the 2 or 3 days before the attack to try to identify possible triggers, such as foods or beverages you have consumed. By reviewing the circumstances surrounding the migraine attack you will be able to make lifestyle changes that can prevent the next attack. Your migraine diary will give you an accurate assessment of your migraine control. Once you have identified a problem with migraine control by seeing more frequent attacks documented in your diary, you can return to your doctor for adjustments in your medications.
Q: How can the migraine diary influence my medication management?
A: Individual migraine attacks vary, and attack frequency can also vary over time. By accurately documenting the frequency, intensity, duration, and timing of your migraine attacks, you and your doctor can determine the most effective medication regimen for you.
Q: Will the use of a migraine diary help me monitor my medication intake and side effects?
A: One of the most tedious aspects of dealing with a chronic illness is taking medications. The difficulty arises when you do not take enough or overmedicate. Migraine is a treatable chronic illness, but for treatment to be effective you must take your medication correctly. If you aggressively treat migraine you will not have to deal with medications that often. When you have a migraine attack it is very important that you document what medications you took, how much, the side effects if any, and the treatment results. By documenting your treatment results in your migraine diary, you will be able to assess the effectiveness of your medications more objectively.
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