Normally headaches last for an hour or two but people who get migraine headaches suffer from 4 hours to 3 days.
Hypothetically, migraine headaches are like a background noise which continuously runs in your head while you try to talk, eat, sleep or even work. The pain increases and decreases slowly but it’s never completely gone.
Often Migraine headache targets either one side or both sides of the brain. There is constant thumping in that part of the head, neck muscles are strained, and you feel nausea. A migraine headache can take a toll over your life as the pain intensifies with time and you may not be able to do even the basic activities.
The exact cause of a migraine is still a mystery while there are many speculations going on. The cure for migraine is yet to be discovered.
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What is a Migraine headache?
Migraine is a severe headache which is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. The migraine headache can prompt anytime and last for 4 hours to 3 days, sometimes even longer.
The problem of migraine headaches occurs to those who have hyperexcitability of the brain. This condition of an individual is mostly genetic and about 20 percent of the people are prone to migraine.
Migraine attacks are mostly preceded or accompanied by sensory warning or signs and other repetitive symptoms.
Bad lifestyle, stress, and environment can play a major role in triggering migraine headaches or attacks.
Women are more vulnerable to migraine headaches than men. Most people start getting migraine attacks between the ages of 10 and 40. Migraine improves as the person ages and in many cases disappears at the age of 50.
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How many types of Migraine are there?
There are two types of migraine headaches
- Migraine with aura or classic migraine
- Migraine without aura or common migraine
Here the term aura represents the signal or repetitive symptoms one gets prior to the headache.
In this type of migraine, aura warns or acts as a sign for an individual about the headache which is soon to start.
A person who gets migraine attack accompanied by an aura might experience the following things:
- Puzzled and vague thoughts
- Stiffness in the shoulders or neck
- Difficulty in speaking or heavy voice
- Zig-zag visual lines in front of the eyes
- Strange flashlight, sparkling before the eyes and causing irritation
- Unusual headache
- Prickling skin
- Visual disturbance- a sensation that comes when a bright camera flash is exposed before the eyes, the illusion of transparent objects floating, and many more.
About 75 percent of people experience migraines without an aura. It is all sudden and without any prior warning.
Migraine without an aura is more than just a headache. It can make you feel terribly ill, nauseous, and the pain alone can force you to make a distance from your daily activities.
Unlike Classic Migraine, Common Migraine is not followed by any early symptoms or aura. Migraine without an aura is considered to be the most common type of migraine headache.
There is no accurate reason for the cause of migraine headache. Some scientists blame brain chemicals like serotonin, calcitonin gene-related peptide, and dopamine for migraine headaches.
Apart from the above-mentioned migraine types, there are some other types of migraine as well.
- Chronic migraine is that where a person has 15 or more headache days per month. It is often associated with anxiety, depression, stressful life, or bad lifestyle.
- Menstrual migraine is that where a woman experiences the migraine attack either few days before the periods or during the bleeding days. It occurs in a pattern connected to the menstrual cycle.
- Abdominal migraine is that where a person experiences irregular function in the gut and abdomen. This migraine mainly targets children who are below 14 years of age.
- Migraine with brainstem aura is a rare type of migraine where a person’s speech is badly affected and becomes slurry. It triggers severe neurological symptoms.
What are the causes of Migraine?
People with migraine often have no clue about the pain and the reason behind it. Even doctors find it difficult to identify whether it’s migraine or something else in the brain. So, they make the person go through CT scan, MRI and other medical checks for the brain.
Here are certain common things that trigger a migraine attack:
- Environment: It is really important for people suffering from migraine to know which kind of weather triggers headaches. Most people are troubled by extreme hot or cold temperature. Even a high intensity of light in the environment becomes a major cause for migraine headaches.
- Bad Lifestyle: People having an urban lifestyle where they drink, smoke, skip breakfast, and avoid physical exercise are more prone to migraine.
Consumption of certain kind of food can also cause migraine. Avoid eating too many cheese and chocolates, red wines, junk food, and food that contains Monosodium glutamate.
Other factors that trigger migraine are disturbed or improper sleep, stress or anxiety, constant noise, and bright lights.
If any member of the family has migraine then there are enough chances that one of the members in the coming generation will have it.
The migraine headache is the result of overactive nerve cells sending out signals to the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for the sensation in your head and face.
The active trigeminal nerve causes the release of chemicals like serotonin and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). The chemicals swell the blood vessels in the lining of the brain. This results in extreme pain.
What triggers Migraine?
Medical science is yet to identify the accurate cause for migraines. However, they have found some important factors that trigger’s condition.
Here are the factors that may trigger a migraine headache are:
- The decrease in levels of the brain chemical serotonin
- Severe heat or extreme cold weather
- Low or high barometric pressure
- Hormonal changes in women during pregnancy, menopause, or menstruation
- Excess stress, anxiety or depression
- Abrupt sleep patterns
- Bright lights
- Loud sounds
- Intense physical activity
- Skipping meals
- Alcohol use
- Hectic traveling
What are the symptoms of migraine?
You can get migraine symptoms before or immediately after the headache, sometimes even during the headache. Not all people experience the same symptoms of migraine. However, there are some popular symptoms of migraine which are faced by most people. It includes:
- Constant pain in one either side of the head. Thumping or throbbing pain in the head that can range from moderate to severe.
- Intense physical training can increase pain. It may become unbearable.
- Regular pain in head, neck, and shoulders. It doesn’t stop even after two-three hours and play like an irritating song in the backdrop of the head.
- Feeling sick, nauseous, and physically vomiting
- Annoyed by right lights and sounds. Even listening to your favorite soft music becomes an irritation and unbearable. Darkroom and no noise give some relief to the pain.
- Sweating, stomach ache, and cold body temperature
What are the possible treatments for Migraine?
The medicines of migraine respond differently to individuals depending on their type of migraine. If a person is suffering from chronic migraine then medicines are not the only way to cure him/her. There must be changes in the lifestyle and diet of the person to get fully treated or at least avoid the trigger of migraine headache.
- The foremost thing for the treatment of migraine is to keep the track of things that triggers it. Keep a note of those things and don’t repeat it.
- You can take pain killers like aspirin or triptan to relief the pain temporarily. However, it is not advisable to take pain killers on a regular basis and without consulting a doctor. It has its side effects.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs with the main ingredients acetaminophen, aspirin, caffeine, and ibuprofen can decrease the pain. It can be risky for people below 19 years of age. Always stick to the doctor’s prescription.
- Medication plays a vital role in decreasing the intensity of the pain as they are Beta-blockers. They can be taken on a daily basis, only after proper consultation with the doctor and not without that. Medicines can decrease the pain and help in managing the pain.
- A new treatment is also available in the form of injections of Botulinum Toxin Type A. It helps in reducing the number of episodes of chronic pain. Doctors are successfully trying this new approach to the treatment of migraines. It is called Botox treatment. The injection of Botulinum Toxin Type A is given to the patient in the muscles around eyes, forehead, and jaw, and back of the neck. It relaxes the muscles and eases the pain for six months.
- Your doctor will prescribe medicines for vomiting or nausea during a migraine attack.
- Biofeedback is a technique that can help you recognize the situation which triggers or leads to a migraine attack. It is very useful to control the severe headache by stopping it in the very beginning.
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a device that you can place on the back of your head when you start getting the aura. This device sends a pulse of magnetic energy to the part of your brain and reduces the pain.
About 100 million people in India are suffering from migraine. It is an undertreated and common disease. It may sound like a normal headache to people who aren’t suffering from the migraine but it isn’t. The pain is almost unbearable and hampers daily life activities heavily.
It is important for the person suffering from migraine to take help from the doctor and not ignore the symptoms. Consult a headache specialist or neurologist and get the treatment as soon as possible.
It might be possible that the patient would have to take medication for several weeks or months. So it is advisable to take the help of the doctor in such case and get proper medication.
Change in lifestyle can play a vital role in controlling the effects of migraine. Have proper sleep, make a healthy diet plan and stick to it, don’t forget to do physical exercise, and consume less amount of alcohol. If you still get migraine attacks then consult a doctor, don’t delay.
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