Examinations are stressful enough for learners and students, without them having to worry about headaches and migraines. Unfortunately it has become an ordinary occurrence for students and many of them feel helpless when dealing with this problem. They can feel so overwhelmed that they completely forget about the effects this is having on their health.
Dr Elliot Shevel, South Africa’s pioneer in the field of migraine surgery and the medical director of The Headache Clinic, says headaches and migraines can have adverse effects on the performance of students and suggests the following measures:
- Be aware of your posture when studying as this can result in a tension headache. Use a good chair that supports your back and that gives the ideal posture. Visit www.headacheclinic.co.za to get a free copy of the Ideal Computer Posture. Learn the right stretching exercises to stretch the muscles of your head, face, neck and jaw.
- Finding out what triggers your headaches by keeping a diary. Each time you suffer from a headache, make a note about the warning signs, triggers and severity. If you can discover some of your personal triggers, you may be able to avoid future headaches. This diary is important as it will give your medical professional an accurate history of your headaches.
- Dietary migraine is a common affliction. These are usually triggered by foods that assist with energy such as chocolate. Chocolate raises the blood sugar levels quickly and then allows it to drop quickly again. Low GI (Glycaemic Index) foods give a more even blood sugar level. Use the nutritional facts label to help choose healthy foods when shopping. A dietary trigger diary is available on www.headacheclinic.co.za under “Free Assistance”.
- Beware of Medication-Overuse Headache (MOH). Medication is only appropriate for someone who suffers a few times a month. According to the International Headache Society, if you are taking medication more than twice a week you are at risk of developing MOH. This means that the drugs you are taking will cause the migraine to become more severe and more frequent over time.
- Dehydration is a common trigger, adequate intake of fluid throughout the day to prevent headaches. The human brain is more than 75% water, and it is very sensitive to the amount of water available to it. When the brain detects that the water supply is too low, it begins to produce histamines.
“If the problem persists, it is imperative that you get an accurate diagnosis” says Shevel. “There are a number of treatment options that can be investigated. The longer the headache persists, the more damage will be done. One must get to the bottom of the problem and resolve the pain permanently.”