- What Is
- First Signs
- 2 Types
- How to Treat
What is a migraine?
A migraine is a type of severe headache that is often accompanied by nausea or vomiting. External influences and changes in the brain are thought to trigger a migraine, however, the exact cause is still unknown. Experiencing migraines is often inherited and passed on in the family (hereditary), suggesting a genetic component.
Individuals with migraines are seen to be sensitive to light, sound, and smell. They usually describe the pain as severe throbbing and pulsating in nature (pain in a series of regular beats or rhythm) on one side of the head. According to the American Migraine Foundation (AMF), women are more likely to have migraines than men.
What are the first signs of a migraine?
The first sign of a migraine is severe eye pain associated with a dull headache. Migraines gradually worsen with physical activity. Below are a few other signs that are documented in individuals with migraine:
What are the causes and triggers of a migraine?
The exact cause of migraines is still unknown. A combination of certain triggers, such as bright light, and weather changes, along with the abnormal flow of blood to the brain can cause a migraine. Below are a few common causes that can trigger a migraine:
- Stress and fatigue
- Change in the sleep cycle
- Foods such as aged cheese, alcohol, and food additives like nitrates and monosodium glutamate
- Skipping meals
- Menstrual periods
- Caffeine: Getting too much or withdrawing from it can cause headaches
- Changes in weather, storm fronts, strong winds, or changes in altitude
How long do migraines last for?
Migraine symptoms differ from person to person. Generally, migraine headaches last about four hours, but if severe, it can go on for more than three days. Some people may get migraines every few days, whereas others get them once or twice a year.
What does aura mean in migraine headaches?
Aura refers to sensory disturbances, which include flashes of light, blind spots, and other vision changes with or without tingling/funny sensation on hand or face. Migraine with aura is a classic symptom of a migraine headache.
What are the different types of migraine headaches?
Most migraines are with or without aura. Several hours before the migraine starts, the individual feels depressed or may have anxiety with or without tiredness. Common and rare types of migraines are:
- Migraine with aura: This is a classic migraine. An aura can start 15 minutes to one hour before the migraine.
- Migraine without aura: This is a common migraine, as the patient may develop severe pain on one side of the head.
Rare types of migraines include:
- Migraine with brainstem aura (silent migraine)
- Hemiplegic migraine
- Symptoms include a short period of paralysis or weakness on one side of the body with temporary numbness, dizziness, or vision changes.
- It is an emergency condition, hence the individual should get emergency help from a doctor.
- Ophthalmic migraine (retinal migraine)
- Ophthalmoplegic migraine
- This type of migraine is a medical emergency, as symptoms include pain around the eye, with paralysis of the muscles around it (droopy eyelid and vision changes).
- Status migrainosus (chronic/severe migraine).
- This is a severe type that can last more than 72 hours.
- The pain and nausea are so intense that you may need to go to the hospital.
How are migraines treated?
- Pain relief and nausea medications: Over-the-counter drugs (acetaminophen, ondansetron, aspirin, caffeine, and ibuprofen) often work well for some people.
- Preventive medicines: These include seizure medicines, blood pressure medicines, and some antidepressants.
- Biofeedback: This technique helps to relax muscles and reduce stress, which can prevent a migraine attack.
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation: This device, when placed on the back of your head, reduces or stops the pain.
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Symptoms of migraine that usually aren't experienced by a person with another type of headache include nausea, vomiting, worsens with mild exercise, debilitating pain, eye pain, throbbing head pain.
Migraine trigger include light, mild exercise, strong smells, certain foods like red wine, aged cheese, smoked meats, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, alcohol, and dairy products, menstrual period, stress, oversleeping, and changes in barometric pressure.
Untreated migraine attacks usually last from 4 to 72 hours, but may last for weeks. Most headaches resolve within 24-48 hours. Doctors don't know exactly what causes migraine headaches; however, other headaches like tension headaches have more specific triggers and causes. Additional tests usually are required to diagnose migraine from other types of headaches, diseases, or other medical problems. Most headaches can be treated and cured with home remedies like essential oils, massage, and over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn) or ibuprofen (Advil, Midol, Motrin). Most headaches resolve with OTC and home remedy treatment, while your doctor may need to prescribe medication to treat your migraines. If you have the "worst headache of your life," seek medical care immediately.
Should I Go to the ER for a Migraine?A migraine is a severe throbbing and pulsating headache that causes pain on one side of the head. A patient should visit an emergency department if they have a severe headache with or without nausea and vomiting.
Types of Migraine Headache MedicationsMigraine medications are for treating migraine headaches and associated symptoms. Migraine medications do not cure migraines, but relieve migraine pain and reduce the frequency and intensity of the migraines. Some migraine pain relief medications are available over the counter, but most are prescription medicines.
What Causes Migraines?A migraine is a complex disorder that involves episodes of recurrent and severe headaches. An episode of a migraine can be very painful, lasting for hours, making day-to-day activities difficult until the episode is resolved. The frequency and severity of migraine attacks tend to decline with age. And women are more likely to suffer from migraines than men.
What Is the Best Cure for Migraine?The best cure for migraine involves preventive medications and lifestyle changes. Some newer medications and therapies are effective in controlling the symptoms of migraine. Avoiding or controlling triggers may provide considerable benefit. Migraine can be prevented mainly by using medications, avoiding triggers and implementing lifestyle changes.
What Is the Best Thing to Do for a Migraine?There is no permanent cure for migraine headaches, but there are migraine treatments that can prevent attacks and relieve symptoms. When you get migraines, you can ease the pain immediately by simple measures such as resting with your eyes closed in a dark, quiet room, putting an ice pack on your forehead, and staying hydrated by drinking plenty of liquids.