Migraine is a condition which shows various symptoms. Presently in the modern era there’s no shortage on ailments. Many confuse migraine with headache. So, let us learn more about migraine!
It is distinguished by the severe, debilitating headaches ( makes one weak). It is said to affect people regardless of age. Migraines are found among family members. It is the most common risk factor. This condition might arise in childhood / after early adulthood. Women are more prone to migraines.
The migraine headaches have two main categories. They are:
1.Migraine headache without aura (common migraines)
2.Migraine headache with aura (classic migraines)
Some people may have both types.
Symptoms & phases:
General symptoms includes nausea, vomiting, difficulty speaking, numbness / tingling, and sensitivity to light & sound. Symptoms of a migraine varies from person to person.
There are four phases of migraine : Prodrome, aura, attack and post-drome.
Symptoms show one or two days ahead of the headache. Symptoms shown are :
- food cravings
- fatigue / low energy level
- continuous yawning
- neck stiffness
During an aura, problems with your vision, sensation, movement, and speech might be seen. Examples are :
- difficulty speaking clearly
- feeling a prickling / tingling sensation in face, arms, /legs
- seeing shapes, light flashes, or bright spots
- Temporaryloss of vision
This is the acute / severe phase when the migraine pain actually transpires. In few cases, this overlaps / happens during an aura. This phase symptoms lasts anywhere from hours to days. Symptoms are :
- increased sensitivity to light & sound
- pain on one side of head, either on the left side, right side, front, or back, or in temples
- pulsing & throbbing head pain
Changes in mood & feelings are seen. Examples are : feeling ecstatic & extremely happy, to feeling very fatigued & indifferent. A mild headache continues to occur.
Duration and severity of the above phases, can be in different levels in each person. Occasionally a phase is skipped and attack happens without a headache.
Pain experienced during migraine is explained as: Pulsating/Throbbing, Perforating, Pounding, Debilitating. The pain is also felt like a serious mild , continuous ache. At first the pain starts in a dull manner. If not treated the condition becomes concerning.
The pain is commonly seen to affect : the forehead area. Normally it is on one side of the head, can occur on both sides also, or shift. Migraines lasts for 4 hours. If not treated / no response to treatment, it lasts 72 hours to a week.
Difference between migraine & headache:
Unlike other headaches migraines are distinct. They could have separate causes. People suffering from headaches can keep a diary of symptoms(8 weeks) . This can help diagnosis of migraine. Things to note down are:
- symptoms starting time, duration
- Suspected triggers(stress ,menstruation, etc,..)
- nature of the headache
- any other symptoms
- medications used and their effects
Causes & triggers
Researchers could not bring a conclusion to what causes migraines. They found some triggers of migraines.
Migraine episodes may arise from changes in brain affecting the :
- way nerves communicate
- balance of chemicals
- blood vessels
- Hormonal changes
- Emotional triggers– stress, depression, anxiety, and excitement.
- Dietary factors– alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, nuts, cheese, citrus fruits, and foods containing the additives tyramine and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
- Medications– sleeping pills, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and some birth control pills.
- Environmental factors– flickering screens, strong smells, secondhand smoke, loud noises, humidity, stuffy rooms, temperature changes, and bright lights.
Some other possible triggers include:
- lack of sleep
- shoulder & neck tension
- poor posture
- physical overexertion
- low blood sugar
- Jet lag
- irregular mealtimes
Making sure to stay away from these triggers helps decrease the recurrence of migraine episodes.
Migraine is diagnosed on the basis of medical history, symptoms description and a physical exam. Imaging scans, such as a CT scan or MRI, can rule out other causes, , abnormal brain structures, stroke.
Currently there is no cure for migraines. However, prescribed medications helps with the management of pain, when symptoms arise. Medicines may have side effects too.
Your treatment plan depends on:
age, recurrence, type of migraine, severity , duration, frequency of the pain , and how often, whether they include nausea / vomiting, as well as other symptoms, other health conditions & medications
Treatment plan may include a combination of :
- Self-care migraine remedies
- lifestyle adjustments
- OTC pain or migraine medications[ Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen (Tylenol)]
- prescription migraine medications – to take daily / as soon as headache starts
- medications for – nausea or vomiting
- hormone therapy if occurrence is due to menstrual cycle
Foods that trigger migraines
Some foods / their ingredients may trigger migraines than others. They are:
- alcohol / caffeinated drinks
- food additives, such as nitrates (a preservative in cured meats), aspartame (an artificial sugar), monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Anyone can develop this condition, but the ones more prone to it have the following:
- bipolar disorder
- Fibromyalgia(muscle pain and tenderness)
- irritable bowel syndrome
- overactive bladder
- sleep disorders
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
Chronic migraines (severe migraine)
Chronic migraine also called as combination / mixed headache as it has attributes of migraine and tension headaches. It is caused by medication overuse. Patients suffer from a severe tension / migraine headache for more than 15 days a month for 3 / more months.More than eight headaches are migraines with / without aura.
People with chronic migraines are more likely to have: severe headaches, more disability at home and away from home, depression, another type of chronic pain(arthritis), other serious health problems (comorbidities), previous head /neck injuries
Acute/ episodic migraine
This is the term for migraines that aren’t diagnosed as chronic. People experiencing this have headaches up to 14 days per month. People with episodic migraines have fewer headaches a month than people with chronic ones.
The following strategies may help reduce the frequency of migraine episodes:
- getting enough sleep
- reducing stress
- drinking more water
- having healthy posture
- avoiding known dietary triggers, such as caffeine, alcohol, and cheese
- getting regular physical exercise
Migraine can affect the quality of life by interfering with daily activities. To avoid that, take note of your symptoms if you experience frequent headaches. Visit your physician if your headache is concerning. Take your medications properly. Avoid the triggers & follow healthy lifestyle to keep migraine away.