Traditional medicine recognizes the importance of tracking triggers for your headaches by keeping a headache diary. When you begin to see a correlation between certain triggers and the onset of a migraine, you can avoid those triggers as much as possible. Unfortunately, triggers are different for different people.
For some, certain foods and food preservatives may trigger migraines. There are a few that are more commonly associated with migraines than others, but even that list is rather long.
For others, triggers may be bright lights, certain odors or perfumes, alcohol, allergic reactions, sleep pattern changes, dehydration, physical or emotional stress, exercise, loud noises, missed meals, smoking or exposure to smoke.
Beyond this, traditional medicine advises you to rest in a cool, dark room with a cool cloth on your head, and to use certain medications to control pain or stop attacks. There’s a spectrum of medications to control pain, ranging from over-the-counter to narcotics and sedatives. But beware that rebound headaches can occur if you take pain meds regularly to keep headaches at bay.
Many of the medications intended to stop attacks work on the vascular system, and these include medications ordinarily used for blood pressure, or those that cause blood vessels to narrow (including Imitrex, Cafergot and Midrin). These latter medications increase the risk of heart attack or stroke if you have heart disease already, and you must avoid some of them if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant.
Other meds to stop attacks include certain antidepressants, and occasionally seizure medications.