If there’s anything migraine sufferers can do to prevent a full on attack, chances are good they’ll do it. We’ve identified four useful websites that provide tools that, while not created specifically for addressing migraine, address some of the common triggers and issues that provoke headaches on a daily basis.
This is a useful tool if you find bright lights trigger migraine pain. Sunlight, especially flashing lights such as those produced when the sun is repeatedly cut by shadows, is a common trigger, but bright artificial light can be just as detrimental. Office workers who stare all day at computer screens know just how true this is. If you take work home, or simply use a laptop or computer for leisure in the evenings, you’re more likely to experience eyestrain and the resulting headache.
F.Lux works by dimming your computer screen at night so it more closely resembles the ambient light in the room. It sits in the background, activating itself at dusk to replace the predominantly blue glare from the screen with one that looks more pink or orange. To start it looks unnatural, but give it a chance and it’s a lot easier on the eyes. You can alter the settings if you don’t like the default changes it makes to the screen. You can also disable it for a while if, for instance, you’re working on images and need to see colors correctly. It’s a free tool, and works on Mac, Windows, Linus, iPhone and iPad.
Nothing to do with vampires or superhuman powers, although you might find you feel more human if you install this helpful tool on your Android device. Twilight works in much the same way as F.Lux, filtering out the bright blue screen glare and replacing it with a softer, red filter that reduces eyestrain.
Avoiding eyestrain, also known as asthenopia, helps you avoid the onset of migraines following extended screen use since eyestrain affects facial nerves that are known to provoke migraine attacks. A recent report in the Daily Mail revealed we pick up our phones around 1,500 times a week, often as an automatic reflex so we don’t even realize we’ve done it. The devices we couldn’t live without might be contributing to a significant amount of migraine pain.
It’s possible to manually adjust the way your screen is set by changing the refresh rate to a higher setting (recommended for migraine sufferers), or reducing brightness, contrast and color settings. But it’s easier and more reliable to install an app that remembers for you and changes settings according to your time zone.
Weather Channel Apps
Forewarned is forearmed, as they say. You can’t change the weather, but if you’re one of the many who find atmospheric pressure brings on a migraine episode, knowing what nature has in store can help you prepare.
In a study by the National Headache Foundation, three quarters of migraine sufferers reported that certain weather conditions were migraine triggers. Those conditions included:
- Changes in humidity or temperature
- Very dry conditions
- Dusty conditions
- High winds
There are weather forecast apps for every device from Android smartphones to iPads and other tablets as well as Windows or Apple desktop computers and laptops. As well as predicting the weather at home on a daily basis, these tools are useful for looking ahead and organizing days out or vacations. If you know your migraines are triggered by storms, for instance, you could check out holiday destinations to find out the levels of humidity or average barometric pressures, choosing places that are conducive to your good health.
Keep a Migraine Diary
Do you know all your migraine triggers? Are you more likely to get an attack in the morning or afternoon? Does your sleep quality affect your headache severity or episode rate? Do certain foods bring on headache pain, or are scents a danger zone?
Just as weight watchers are encouraged to keep a food diary, keeping a migraine diary will help you notice patterns and identify triggers that may have escaped you so far. It's surprising how much insight you get from documenting your experiences chronologically, using the same words to describe your symptoms each time.
Keeping a migraine dairy needn’t be a long-winded chore. All you need to note down are:
- Times and pain intensity levels.
- How long the attack lasted.
- Medications you took.
- What triggered the headache (make a note of where you were, smells, sounds and sights).
- What symptoms you experienced.
It also forms a useful reference document when you visit your doctor.
If it sounds like a lot, we’ve made it simple in our Migraine Diary download so all you need do is jot down information in the columns provided. There’s also helpful information to jog your memory on potential triggers and likely symptoms.