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Managing Migraines: A Three-Step Plan

Mohammad Sajed, MD, neurologist with Edward Neurosciences Institute

If you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer from migraines, Mohammad Sajed, MD, Neurologist with the Edward Neurosciences Institute and Medical Director of the Edward Headache Clinic shares a three-step plan to help you manage them.

Step 1: Is your headache a migraine?

First, it's important to determine if your headache is truly a migraine. Migraines are characterized by intense, throbbing or pulsating pain, usually on one side of the head. Migraine headaches can last from half an hour to several hours, sometimes even days. Nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, sound or odors are common in people with a migraine. Some people also experience visual disturbances, called aura, with may include spots, dots, jagged lines, flashing lights or disruptions in taste, smell or touch.

Step 2: Learn the "triggers"

Second, Dr. Sajed, who is also Board Certified in Headache Medicine, recommends you to learn possible "triggers" of migraines. The exact cause of migraines is unknown, although many individuals with migraine headaches can identify triggers that may cause or worsen a headache. Avoiding these triggers may help reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches. Possible triggers may include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Changes in the weather
  • Caffeine (too much or too little)
  • Chocolate or alcohol
  • Lack of sleep or too much sleep
  • Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle
  • Skipping meals
  • Foods containing nitrates (e.g., luncheon meats, hot dogs, etc.)
  • Foods containing tyramine (e.g., aged cheeses, smoked fish, etc.)
  • Foods containing monosodium glutamate (e.g., most diet or "light" soft drinks)

Step 3: Get the right treatment

Third, there are various treatment options for migraine headaches. Most commonly, over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen are used. If those don't relieve migraine symptoms, prescription drugs call triptans are an alternative. Talk with your physician about the right treatment for your symptoms.

Seek help

Migraines are a very common condition that can dramatically affect the quality of your life. The Edward Headache Clinic provides state-of-the-art diagnosis and care for sufferers of all types of headaches from the simplest to the most complex. Among treatments recently added is Botox Injection for certain migraines. The Headache Clinic is open from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. To make an appointment, call 630.527.7730.


(630) 527-3000

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Edward Hospital & Health Services
801 S. Washington, Naperville, IL 60540 • (630) 527-3000

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