Several months ago, I wondered whether my son might suffer from migraines. I have them. My father has them. And so did his father before that. Since there is a genetic component to these beasts, I reasonably was concerned that I may have passed these to my son, who is already very sensitive to light, touch, and sound.
Fortunately, boys’ migraines often improve after puberty. And at 12 years old, he is getting closer to that milestone. Additionally, whether intentionally or not, he seems to have found ways to naturally ease and control his headaches.
He drinks lots of liquids, even occasionally sports or caffeinated drinks. Part of what happens in a migraine is that the blood vessels in the head dilate and leak. Drinks with sugar help the salt and water to get absorbed. The salt helps keep the water inside the blood vessels. Similarly, caffeine constricts the blood vessels, helping to reverse the dilation that precedes the headache. He also discovered and loves Lil’Hot Heads — fleece covered ice pack strips that he can wrap around his head — that he can use to naturally restrict the blood vessels and minimize his pain.
When in pain, he gravitates to quiet, dark spaces. As a younger child, my son was all about forts — small, enclosed, cozy spaces that blocked out all the ambient light and most of the noise. Now, as a preteen, it isn’t usual for him to retreat into his room for quiet time with the lights dim. Some might call this a symptom of teenage moodiness, but there is never any dramatic door slamming or screaming involved. I think that he just knows from experience that removing the external stimulus is a great way to relieve his pain. He also has taken to using and loving his HoodiePillow case, a fun product that he saw on Shark Tank. This pillow case is made from a soft material and has a hoodie with draw strings that he can pull to adjust to his own comfort and use to help reduce outside distractions.
He naturally loves and gravitates to foods that doctors now believe have the power to prevent headaches before then even begin.
(1) His favorite green veggie is spinach. This riboflavin-filled vegetable also has a type of Vitamin B that has been linked to migraine prevention.
(2) Fatty fish — such as salmon and sardines — are his go-to breakfast meal. Call it crazy, or the influence of my non-American husband, but my son really enjoys smoked salmon or sardines with vinegar for breakfast. These fishes have anti-inflammatory properties that can ease headache pain.
(3) Watermelon is his fruit of choice. Just as drinking can help with a headache, eating foods with a high water content can help to minimize headaches, particularly those that are dehydration related. Additionally, the high magnesium and potassium content of watermelon makes it an ideal snack of choice because it helps to replace essential minerals that are lost when one is dehydrated.
(4) He takes everything with a side of fries — or mashed or baked potatoes. Potatoes with their high potassium content make them an ideal food for headaches, particularly when they are baked and eaten with the skin on.
Does you or your child suffer from headaches or migraines? If you do, know that we feel your pain and are wishing you a quick recovery.
Photo by tiverylucky, courtesy of freedigitalimages.net