Questions About Migraines – An Interview with Dr. Keri Peterson
I ended last year with some pretty exciting opportunities, like my work with the Excedrin Migraine team. It really sparked my interest in the science behind headaches and even after the campaign was over, I was still thinking about questions that I thought you guys would want the answers to. Luckily, I was able to schedule an interview with Dr. Keri Peterson. She is board certified in internal medicine and works as an advisor and medical commentator for several media outlets including Women’s Health Magazine, Good Morning America, and America’s Newsroom.
One reason that the work and information surrounding migraines speaks so loudly to me, is that I have my own personal experiences with migraine headaches. I’ve narrowed down my triggers and many of my migraines are triggered by hormones. Luckily that means during pregnancy, they take a little break. Unfortunately, they’ll be back once our new baby comes. That left me wondering, what is it about hormones that can trigger migraines? According to Dr. Peterson, the great fluctuation in estrogen is actually what triggers most hormonal migraines. The menstrual cycle is one of the most common triggers she sees in her own patients with migraines appearing right before or right after a woman’s period. (Other common migraine triggers Dr. Peterson sees in her patients are stress, foods, and barometric pressure changes.)
Research shows the greatest thing you can do to help control migraines is identify your triggers. Tracking and recording data that you can share with your doctor is a huge step. The My Migraine Triggers app is a great tool that Dr. Peterson actually recommends to her own patients. Once you’ve identified those triggers, what’s next? What can you do when you still get a migraine? There are a ton of options. Dr. Peterson recommends starting with a combination of over the counter medications and natural treatments. Excedrin Migraine is the go to OTC drug she suggests for her patients. Non medicinal suggestions include ice (either on the scalp or neck – whatever brings relief), good sleep hygiene, and water. Dr. Peterson was also clear that these natural measures (including exercise, controlled eating habits, and overall healthy lifestyle changes) are also things those with migraines can work on to help prevent migraines from occurring. Often, patients who suffer from migraines must take prescription medications and some even use Botox injections to control and treat chronic migraines.
If you think you might be suffering from migraine headaches, you should definitely go see your own physician. That actually brings up another bit of great information from Dr. Peterson. How do you know if you’re suffering from a migraine? What makes a migraine different than a tension headache?
– Pulsing, throbbing
– Moderate to severe pain
– Other associated symptoms and often preceded by an aura or visual change
– Stretches across the forehead
– Affects both sides of the head
– Mild to moderate pain
Again, if you suspect you may be suffering from any type of severe or persistent headache, go see your physician.
If this pregnancy and postpartum stage is anything like it was with my first, I know that I can expect some pretty severe headaches in those first few months. I plan on breastfeeding, and asked Dr. Peterson what would be safe for me to do during that time. I will definitely need to ask my doctor if OTC medications are safe at that time. Other than that, Dr. Peterson recommends using the natural treatments like sleeping, reducing stress, ice, and exercise.
A very special thanks to Dr. Keri Peterson for sharing her time with me for an interview. Learn more about her by visiting Keri MD.
About Ashley – Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at Momicles and follow her@Momicles2010.