How to Avoid and Manage Migraine as a Nigerian Youth

by Aminat Adejumo
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“My head is banging,” I shouted when working on my laptop. Working at an ad agency would make you stare at the screen for a long time. I had a task to work on an ad copy regarding a fintech product, and it had to be original and ‘something nobody had ever seen before,’ as my boss said.

I stared at the screen all night because I wanted to get the job done. A hard worker I am.

I couldn’t work on the copy when I feel like someone is pounding yam on my head. I thought it was just a normal headache, and took paracetamol to relieve the pain. But it got so bad, I felt like cutting my head off. The pain was unbearable.
My colleagues advised me to see a doctor. I didn’t think I needed a doctor for a common headache. Nevertheless, I visited a doctor, and she told me I had a migraine.

Migraine? After a detailed explanation, I discovered migraine could lead to memory loss and brain damage. No, I’m too young for that. If this happens, I may not be able to be write copies again.

What is a Migraine?

A migraine is a headache that can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days. 

Migraine is not just a headache. It’s a complex neurological disease that has a huge impact worldwide. The nerve sends electrical signals to and from the spinal cord and brain sensors throughout the body to collect information about our surroundings. For example, when there is an accident, this information is sent to the brain by the nerve cell in the body. The brain stem helps control sleep, heart rate, and breathing. Migraine is a disease where one or more path of this communication system does not function properly.

Nigerian Youths and Their Circumstances 

Nigeria is a country with a population of more than 200 million. 60% of Nigeria’s population are youths. Nigerian youths are among the most frustrated people on earth. What has happened? What made them this way, and how did we even get here?

Let use the education sector as an example. Except for those from rich backgrounds, most Nigerian youths cannot afford quality tertiary education. Even the so-called public universities lack facilities that can ensure adequate learning. This lack of facilities is subjecting the youth to stress. They have to go the extra mile to know some things, especially when it comes to practicals, research, and all. And those that cannot do that will have to result to dubious means of passing certain courses. 

Many Nigerian youths have great potentials and are willing to learn but what happens when they get admitted to universities? They are frustrated by the system. Imagine having 2000 students in a 1000-capacity lecture hall without public address systems. What’s the point? 

Nigerian youths find themselves in a situation where the school is shut down for eight months and only to resume to have all the curriculum and exams taken within just a month and a half after the resumption. Subjected to many frantic races, which can kill them mentally, youths who really can’t manage their stress well can have migraine attacks.

These migraine attacks can affect them and their activities. It doesn’t look good having constant and severe headache as a youth because this is the time when you can plan and prepare for your future. You don’t need unhealthy obstacles

Migraine Causes

A migraine attack typically has three or four phases. They are prodrome ( starting hours before a headache), aura, headache, and postdrome. 

Migraine attacks are often brought on by specific stimuli or triggers, which any Nigerian is familiar with;

  • Increased stress, being overly tired e.g working two or more jobs at the same time.
  • Too much or too little sleep 
  • Low blood sugar as a result of prolonged fasting; many Nigerians fast for a long time when praying
  • Drinks; too much of wine can cause migraine
  • Skipping meals; many Nigerians skip breakfast because they have to get to work early
  • Prolonged screen time: Many Nigerian youths are freelancers, so they have to stare at the screen. This can cause migraine.
  • Lack of exercise: Youths don’t want to exercise, they just want to make money. They think exercise is a waste of time, so they don’t pay attention to their health.
  • Attending university lectures every morning.
  • Executing many class assignment at the same time.

During stressful events, certain chemicals in the brain are released to combat the situation(known as flight or fight response). The release of those chemicals can bring on a migraine 

Daily use of pain-relieving medications. If medicine meant to relieve headache pain is used too often, that can cause a rebound headache. 

What Makes Nigerian Youths Prone to Migraine?

When we look at the triggers of migraine headaches and the circumstances of Nigerian youth, we can conclude that their circumstances are migraine triggers. Their education circumstances, sustaining a living, pressure to contribute their quota in leadership, and so on.

How to Avoid Migraine as a Nigerian Youth 

“The more you complain, the more you suffer”. Nigerian youth need to hold on to that saying. We found ourselves here already. How can we avoid this migraine that our circumstances made us prone to?

Since migraine could be a cumulative effect of several triggers, avoiding as many known triggers as possible can help reduce the number of attacks. 

The following are ways migraine can be avoided :

  1. Learn to manage your stress

It’s impossible to avoid stressful situations all the time, but how we react to stress is all that matters. Manage your stress by anticipating possible outcomes for all situations and how you go about it.

For instance, “If I gain admission into a university, how do I manage my fees? – what are the things I can do alongside my schooling, I may not get a white-collar job after graduation, if I were to self-establish, what will be my capital source and so on.” Here are some techniques you can adapt to manage your stress:

Be active, take control, connect with people, have some me time (alone time), challenge yourself, avoid unhealthy habits, help others, and work smarter, not harder.

  1. Plan ahead

Plan your day so as not to be dazed, plan your weeks so as not to be weak. Planning your activities makes them less stressful. Having a planning mindset can reduce stress and create an overall sense of control over life. Effective planning will help eliminate the stress of last-minute work. 

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  1. Avoid loud noises, and bright light

Among the triggers of migraine are loud noises and bright light. Regular visitations to nightclubs and theatres and late-night driving should be controlled. Regular exposure to loud noises, like at the bars, triggers migraine. 

  1. Eating and sleeping on a regular schedule

Our activities is greater than the time we have at our disposal, but with good time management skill, you can be productive without jeopardizing your free time for relaxation. Regular exercise, sleep, and diet is three important parts of managing migraine headaches.

A regular schedule that allows you to get the sleep you need to function properly (about 8 hours) is essential to lessen the number of migraine attacks you get and ease their symptoms. Nurture a routine that agrees with your natural rhythms. Try to keep a regular, soothing bedtime routine, avoid screen time before bed, and, perhaps most importantly, wake up at the same time every day.

Read Also: Best And Worst Brain Foods for Better Study and Assimilation

  1. Keeping a headache diary

We can classify migraine into episodes and chronic. When you have less than 15 headaches per month, it is an episodic migraine; when you are experiencing 15 or more headaches per month, that’s a chronic migraine. Since we really can’t pinpoint a particular trigger of migraine that’s general for all, Paying close attention to what brings about the migraine at that particular time, a study of this can help in managing and preventing migraine.

A trip to the doctor can also help you work out the right plan for a specific attack with medication and rest.

8 Ways to Manage a Migraine Attack 

  1. Apply a cold compress

When there is a migraine attack, you can put an ice pack on your head to soothe the effect of the headache. Some theories have suggested that cold therapy can help constrict blood vessels or slow the nerve signals involved with migraine pain. This is particularly helpful especially when the migraine is due to sun or heat.

  1. Relax in a quiet and dark place

Sensitivity to light and sound /noise are among migraine triggers. So when you have a migraine, finding a quiet and dark place to relax while inhaling and exhaling can alleviate the pain

  1. Eat ginger

Some foods trigger migraines while some subside them. Ginger is among those. So when you have a migraine, you can take ginger to stop the pain. A new study found that ginger was able to reduce migraine pain significantly in 2 hours and reduce nausea and vomiting that might be associated with migraine.

  1. Meditate

When you have a migraine attack, you can meditate while relaxing to relieve the mind and ease your stress. Regular meditation and stress-reduction strategies can also help prevent migraine from developing in the first place.

  1. Medication

Medication is also among the first remedies to manage migraine in case of an attack. There are many over-the-counter medicines that can be taken to relieve the pain. They include; acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, diclofenac (Cataflam), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) ,almotriptan (Axert), eletriptan (Relpax), frovatriptan (Frova), etc.

  1. Hydration

In case of a migraine attack, you can take water cause dehydration (not taking water) can cause headaches, even migraines. Research has shown that hydration can reduce migraine pain or even prevent headaches. 

  1. Massage

A study discovered that 8 out of 10 people had their headache pain cut in half with just one massage treatment, and most reported nearly immediate relief.

Read Also: Healthy Living for Nigerians: Health Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage

  1. Good sleeping routine

A regular schedule that allows you to get the sleep you need to function properly (about 8 hours) is essential to lessen the number of migraine attacks you get and ease their symptoms. Nurture a routine that agrees with your natural rhythms.

Try to keep a regular, soothing bedtime routine, avoid screen time before bed, and, wake up at a regular time daily.


Overall, paying attention to what you eat matters a lot for someone that usually undergoes one stress or another, maybe their job or studies or even a change in weather. Then you shouldn’t let your food add to the migraines risk – junk and can-food shouldn’t be your regular options.

A healthy migraine diet is a new diet, including fruits and vegetables. Processed food is not advisable. Healthy food can also be a trigger. So knowing what you eat when you get a trigger is a good way to go about diet triggers of migraine, Also your activities on days when you get a migraine attack.   

Remember, avoiding as many known triggers as possible can help reduce the number of attacks.

You can also send us a message on Whatsapp to discuss issues on mental health. We would love starting a conversation with you.

About Author

Avatar of Aminat Adejumo
Aminat Adejumo
She is a passionate writer and orator who believes in writing to make right. She writes blog posts, articles, and poetry. Her interests are majorly in personal development, education, and health.

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