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Haven't Got Time for the Pain?

If you suffer from migraines or regular headaches, turn to the experts. Click here to learn more about Northwest Community Hospital's award-winning neurological care today.

Stop a Headache Before It Starts

When it comes to headaches, prevention really can be the best medicine

If you've known the pulsing, debilitating pain of a headache, prevention is on your mind. At Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH), it's on ours too. Here are tips on what you can do to prevent migraine headaches, as well as an update on the latest preventive medicines to send your pain packing.

Control Your Environment

About 29.5 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches, with women being affected two to three times more than men. "Sometimes people are unable to work, be productive in the home or go out socially because of migraines," says Daniel B. Cacioppo, MD, a board-certified neurologist on staff at Northwest Community Hospital.

Knowing and avoiding common headache triggers can tame—or completely halt—these attacks, says Dr. Cacioppo. Triggers can include:

  • Stress
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Poor nutrition
  • Certain foods
  • Bright or fluorescent lights
  • TV and movie viewing
  • Excessive noise
  • Hormonal changes (in women)

Eat nutritious meals and get the right amount of sleep on a regular basis. Get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week. If you smoke, quit. These efforts can result in eliminating the frequency of headaches, and getting your life back on track.

Seek Medical Help

Medicines are another powerful tool for migraine attack prevention. "A lot of people accept their headaches and think there are no treatments available," Dr. Cacioppo says. "But migraines are a treatable disease."

According to the National Headache Foundation, some migraine sufferers may even be candidates for preventive medications. There are various FDA-approved medications available—the important thing is to work closely with your doctor to pinpoint the prescriptions that might work for you. Keep a headache diary, tracking when your headaches start, how long they last and what might have triggered them. Also, keep track of your symptoms and the effectiveness of any remedies you used.

In the end, this information can help your doctor work with you to find the right prevention strategy.

Lorraine S. Novas, MD

Daniel Cacioppo, MD

Neurologist at NCH

  • Board-Certified: Neurology
  • Medical School: Rush Medical College
  • Internship: St. Joseph's Hospital
  • Residency And Fellowship: Barrow Neurological Institute

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Last Updated 04/10/2009