As many people who suffer with severe migraine attacks can attest, there are times when a trip to the emergency room is unavoidable. We have had at least six ER visits with our daughter who deals with migraines, and our Children’s Hospital is a three-hour drive from our house — one way. As a result, we have found it imperative to do everything that we can to avoid the ER. These are a few of our tips to help you do the same.
Work closely with your neurologist
If you are having migraine attacks severe enough to send you to the ER, then you should be evaluated and treated by a neurologist. Neurologists know all the latest tools to help prevent migraine attacks as well as how to treat them quickly. They can also provide you with tips about lifestyle changes, recognizing triggers, and trying supplements that may help you manage your attacks.
Don’t skip neurology appointments because you feel ok that day
Oftentimes it is frustrating to go to the doctor when you are well — especially if you find yourself frequently at the doctor’s office when you are sick. But don’t miss this opportunity for your neurologist to evaluate how well your treatment is working and perhaps make some tweaks to your treatment that could improve your overall migraine control.
Hydration is extremely important in preventing migraine attacks, but is one of the things we struggle with the most at our house. No one wants to have to stop to use the bathroom every five minutes. But I promise that once you get used to drinking a lot of water it won’t be as big of an issue. Our daughter’s neurologist said to aim for half her body weight in ounces every day.
Keep a migraine journal
Keeping a journal may sound like a little thing but it can give your neurologist big clues as to what is causing your head pain. We like to use a desk calendar because it has more room to write any additional notes about possible triggers that day, like the weather or foods you might have eaten that day.
Stay on top of your medications
Skipping your preventive medications can set you up for a huge migraine attack. So if your neurologist has prescribed you a daily medication to prevent attacks be sure to take it on time each day. We have found that a weekly medication container is helpful because you can look back and ensure didn’t forget to take your medication. There are ones that can be used for morning, noon, dinner, and bedtime if you have multiple medications to keep track of. Be sure to get your medications refilled on time or have an auto-fill set up with your pharmacy.
Talk with your neurologist ahead of time about when to head to the ER
We failed to ask about when to go to the ER when our daughter first started having migraine attacks. Be sure that you talk with your neurologist and have a plan in place for when you have maxed out your rescue medications.
While a trip to the ER might be necessary now and then with migraine attacks, if you are heading there frequently, be sure to let your neurologist know. They may want to adjust your medication or run additional testing.
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Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.