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The surprising symptoms of migraine headaches you need to know and 3 effective ways to find relief:

by Laura Palmer

If you suffer from migraines, you’ll know just how debilitating they can be. You might need to take time off work, or cancel the night out you were looking forward to. When a migraine strikes all you want to do is lie down in a dark room until it passes. But did you know that it's not just the headache that could mean you're experiencing a migraine? There are all sorts of other symptoms of migraine headaches that can occur days before the sore head starts.

More importantly, if you can recognise the symptoms that come before a migraine attack, there are actions you can take that could help to reduce the severity of your headache, or even prevent it entirely. Here's what you should be on the lookout for:

What are the other symptoms of migraine headaches?

Keep smelling a funky odour that no one else can smell? Nope, you haven't forgotten to turn the gas hob off, you're probably experiencing 'phantom smells’. A sign for some people that a migraine is on the way. Finding it hard to string a sensible sentence together, or keep tripping up? Loss of coordination and trouble with speech can be symptoms of migraine headaches too.

You might also get cravings for chocolate and cheese (much like PMT), or feel on edge or anxious. Other common symptoms include excessive yawning, feeling tired, pins and needles, and throbbing in your neck or sinuses. Definitely not just a headache, migraines can manifest themselves in so many different ways. But now you know more about the warning symptoms, here are 3 tips to 'head' them off once you start to experience those telltale signs:

Get rid of gluten:

You probably know that gluten can wreak havoc with your gut health, but it can also contribute to developing headaches too. Research has shown that coeliacs (people with an allergy to gluten) have more migraines. Scientists think this is due to the gut-brain axis, where problems in your gut have a direct impact on your central nervous system. Not coeliac? You're not off the hook either. Other studies have shown that gluten can also trigger migraines in people with just a mild sensitivity to it (which you might not even know you have!).

If you regularly have migraines, try cutting gluten out of your diet for a month and see if this has an impact. You could be pleasantly surprised: a 2020 study showed that a gluten-free diet can substantially reduce the frequency of migraine headaches. Or, if you don't want to wave goodbye to your favourite crusty bread just yet, try ditching the gluten once the symptoms of migraine headaches start to appear. Other migraine trigger foods include artificial sweeteners and nitrates. So it's best to avoid food and drink containing these too if you can.

The right supplements to take when symptoms of migraine headaches strike:

Looking for a quick, inexpensive, and super easy way to see off the symptoms of migraine headaches? Make sure you're taking the right supplements. Magnesium is a MUST for migraine sufferers. Research shows that people with lower levels of magnesium are much more likely to experience migraine, and there's also evidence that magnesium can block the signals in the brain that cause headaches and changes in vision. It can also stop the brain chemicals that cause pain. Targeted triple action! Speaking of which… the Tri-Magnesium patch, which contains the three most bioavailable forms of magnesium is here.

Other migraine must-haves include Ashwagandha, which can help to promote relaxation in the muscles in your head and neck, reducing pressure and pain. And also vitamin B2 (riboflavin), believed to support healthier metabolism among brain cells. If you want to take something preventative and natural to stop these pesky headaches, try butterbur and feverfew. These herbs both block the production of chemicals that can trigger migraines. When taken regularly, clinical trials show butterbur and feverfew can reduce the frequency of migraine attacks by 50 percent – wow! The Migraine Relief patch contains all these goodies (and magnesium!). Your secret weapon when the symptoms of migraine headaches come on is here. 

Try some red light therapy:

When you've got a migraine, do you reach for your sunglasses and close all the curtains? Light sensitivity is often the reason many migraine sufferers have to call in sick or take a raincheck on social plans. According to US neuroscientist Andrew Huberman (check out his very excellent blog on headache prevention here), this is because blue and green light (which is present in sunlight) activates neurons in the brain that can trigger pain in your head.

To reduce this pain and pressure, Huberman recommends switching the light around you to a different colour light with a longer wavelength when you feel the symptoms of migraine headaches starting. Research has shown that red light doesn't stimulate the same neurons as green and blue light. This means less pain, and in some cases has been known to prevent headaches from developing at all – hurrah!

And don't worry, you don't need to book in for expensive red light therapy every time you get a migraine. Simply switch your lightbulbs to an orange or red coloured bulb and ta-dah! – your headache shouldn't be as painful. No more hitting the pause button on life whenever you feel like a migraine is on the way.