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Migraine: Everything You Need to Know

Migraine
Everything You
Need to Know

What you need to know about Migraines

Migraine is a neurological disorder that can induce a variety of symptoms in addition to “very awful headaches.” While severe, incapacitating headaches are a common symptom, other signs and symptoms may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

The condition is commonly passed down through families and can affect people of various ages. People who are identified as female at birth are more likely to be diagnosed with migraine than people who are identified as male at birth.

Migraine diagnosis is made based on the patient’s medical history, reported symptoms, and the elimination of other possible causes. Episodic versus chronic migraine headaches (or attacks) are the most prevalent types, followed by those without aura and those with aura.

What does a Migraine feel like?

Migraine discomfort is described as:

  • Pulsating
  • Throbbing
  • Perforating
  • Pounding
  • Debilitating

It can also be described as a severe, dull, and constant ache. It’s possible that the discomfort will be moderate at first. However, if left untreated, it can progress from mild to severe.

Migraine pain is most typically felt in the area of the forehead. It often affects one side of the head, however, it might affect both sides or shift.

The average migraine attack lasts roughly four hours. They can persist anywhere from 72 hours to a week if they aren’t treated or don’t respond to treatment. Pain may overlap with or occur in the absence of an aura in migraines with aura.

Migraine Symptoms

Migraine symptoms can appear one to two days before the headache. This stage is referred to as the prodrome. During this time, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Cravings for food.
  • Depression.
  • Fatigue.
  • A lot of yawning.
  • Hyperactivity.
  • Irritability.
  • Stiffness in the neck.

The aura appears following the prodrome stage in migraine with aura. You may experience problems with your eyesight, sensation, mobility, and speech when experiencing an aura. The following are some examples of these issues:

  • Having trouble speaking clearly.
  • Tingling or prickling sensations in your face, arms, or legs.
  • Seeing shapes, flashes of light, or bright spots.
  • You may get temporary eyesight loss.

The attack phase is the next phase. When the actual migraine pain occurs, this is the most acute or severe of the phases. This can overlap or happen during an aura in some folks. Symptoms of the attack phase can last anywhere from hours to days. Migraine symptoms differ from individual to person.

Some signs and symptoms to look out for are:

  • Heightened sensitivity to light and sound
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or a fainting sensation
  • Pain on one side of your head (left, right, front, or back), or in your temples
  • Throbbing and pounding head pain
  • Vomiting

A person will frequently experience the postdrome phase after the assault period. Mood and feelings are likely to vary during this stage. These feelings might range from euphoria and great happiness to exhaustion and apathy. It’s possible that a mild, dull headache will continue.

These phases can last for varying amounts of time and severity in various persons. When a phase is skipped, a migraine episode might happen without creating a headache.

Diagnosis

Migraine is diagnosed by listening to your symptoms, getting a detailed medical and family history, and completing a physical check to rule out other possible causes.

Other causes can be ruled out through imaging studies like a CT scan or an MRI, such as:

  • Tumours
  • Brain structures that are abnormal
  • Stroke

Migraine Symptoms

What are the causes of migraines?

Migraine has yet to be definitively linked to a cause. They remain convinced, however, that the illness is caused by “abnormal” brain activity that affects neuron communication, neurotransmitters, and blood vessels in the brain.

There are plenty of other migraine triggers that are frequently mentioned, including:

  • Dazzling lights
  • Intense heat or other meteorological extremes
  • Dehydration
  • Barometric pressure changes
  • Oestrogen and progesterone fluctuations throughout menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause in those who were assigned female at birth
  • Excessive anxiety
  • Loud noises
  • A lot of physical activity
  • Missing a meal
  • Alterations in sleep habits
  • Certain drugs, such as oral contraceptives or nitroglycerin, may be used.
  • Abnormal odours
  • Specific foods
  • Smoking
  • Consuming alcoholic
  • Travelling

Your doctor may ask you to keep a headache journal if you have a migraine attack. Identifying your triggers can be as simple as writing down what you were doing, what foods you ate, and what medications you were taking before your migraine attack started.

Migraine types

Migraines come in a variety of forms. Migraine without aura and migraine with aura are the two most prevalent forms. Some folks are a mix of the two.

Many migraine sufferers suffer from multiple types of headaches.

Aura-free migraine

The majority of migraine sufferers do not have an aura with their migraines.

Migraine sufferers without an aura have had at least five attacks with the following characteristics:

  • Without therapy or if treatment fails, an episode usually lasts 4 to 72 hours.
  • At least two of these characteristics are present in the attack:

It only affects one side of the head (unilateral).
The pain pulsates or throbs.
The intensity of the pain is moderate to severe.
While you move, such as when walking or climbing stairs, the discomfort gets worse.

  • At least one of these characteristics can be found in an attack:

It makes you light-sensitive (photophobia)
It causes you to be more sensitive to sound (phonophobia)
If you get nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea, you should consult your doctor.

  • An attack isn’t brought on by another medical condition or diagnosis.

Migraine with aura

In around a quarter of migraine sufferers, an aura appears.

If you have a migraine with aura, you’re likely to have at least two bouts that look like this:

  • An aura that fades and is totally reversible, with at least one of the following symptoms:

Visual issues (the most common aura symptom).
Numbness, tingling, or dizziness are symptoms of sensory disorders in the body, face, or tongue.
Issues with speech or language.
Moving difficulties or weaknesses can last up to 72 hours.

  • Symptoms of the brainstem include:

Dysarthria – difficulty speaking (unclear speech).
Dizziness (a spinning feeling).
Tinnitus – ringing in the ears.
Diplopia is a condition in which a person has (double vision).
The inability to control one’s movements is known as ataxia.
Eye difficulties with only one eye, such as flashes of light, blind spots, or temporary blindness (called retinal migraines when these symptoms occur).

  • An aura with at least two of the following characteristics:

At least one symptom spread slowly over a period of 5 minutes or more.
Each aura symptom lasts between 5 minutes and 1 hour (if you have three symptoms, they may last up to 3 hours).
At least one aura symptom, such as vision, speech, or language impairments, affects only one side of the head.
The aura appears during the attack or 1 hour before it starts.

  • There isn’t another health concern causing the attack, and the transient ischemic attack has been ruled out as a cause.

Auras normally appear before the headache pain starts, but they might last throughout the attack. Alternatively, an aura could begin at the same moment as the assault.

Chronic migraine

Chronic migraine was once referred to as a “combination” or “mixed” headache since it might have both migraine and tension headache symptoms. It’s also known as a strong migraine headache, and it’s caused by taking too many medications.

Chronic migraine sufferers experience severe tension headaches or migraine attacks on more than 15 days per month for three months or longer. Migraine with or without aura accounts for more than eight of those attacks.

The following are some other risk factors that may render a person susceptible to chronic migraine:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Arthritis, for example, is another sort of persistent pain.
  • Comorbidities (additional significant health issues), such as high blood pressure
  • Previous neck or head traumas

Acute migraine is a word used to describe a migraine attack that isn’t classified as chronic. Episodic migraine is another name for this form of migraine.

Episodic migraineurs experience episodes up to 14 times each month. As a result, episodic migraine sufferers experience fewer attacks per month than chronic migraine sufferers.

Migraine-associated vertigo is another name for vestibular migraine. Vestibular migraine affects about 1% of the general population. The symptoms can produce dizziness, alter balance, or both. Vestibular migraine attacks can affect people of any age, including youngsters.

If you’ve been diagnosed with vestibular dysfunction, your doctor may recommend that you consult a vestibular rehabilitation therapist. When your symptoms are at their worst, they can give you activities to help you keep balanced. Because migraine attacks can be so debilitating, you and your doctor may discuss the possibility of using preventative drugs.

Menstrual-related migraine affects up to 60% of women who have any type of migraine, according to the National Headache Foundation. It can happen with or without the presence of an aura. Before, during, or after menstruation, as well as during ovulation, attacks might occur.

Menstrual migraines are more painful, last longer, and cause more nausea than migraines unrelated to the menstrual cycle, according to research.

A migraine aura without headache, also known as a silent migraine or visual migraine without headache, is when a person experiences an aura but does not experience a headache. People who begin suffering headaches after the age of 40 are more likely to have this form of migraine.

Symptoms of the visual aura are the most common. The aura may appear gradually in this type of migraine, with symptoms spanning over many minutes and progressing from one symptom to the next. Numbness, speech difficulty, and/or tingling in the face or hands may occur after visual symptoms.

Hormonal migraine, often known as menstrual migraine, is caused by female hormones, most notably oestrogen. Many women who ovulate experience migraine headaches during the following periods:

  • Their period
  • Ovulation
  • Pregnancy
  • Perimenopause

Migraine triggers

While migraine attack triggers differ from person to person, certain meals or food elements may be more likely to cause an attack than others. These may include the following:

  • Alcoholic beverages or caffeinated beverages
  • Nitrates (a preservative in cured meats), aspartame (an artificial sweetener), and monosodium glutamate are examples of food additives (MSG)
  • Tyramine, which is found in several foods naturally

When foods are fermented or aged, tyramine levels rise. Some aged cheeses, sauerkraut, and soy sauce are examples of these foods. However, continuing research is examining the function of tyramine in migraines, as it may not be as significant a trigger as originally assumed.

Other migraine attack triggers are numerous and appear to be random:

  • Hormone triggers in those who were born females
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Excitement
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Rigorous exercise (If you don’t do it often)
  • Dazzling lights
  • Climatic changes
  • Drugs for hormone replacement therapy

Keeping a diary of your migraine attacks can aid in the identification of your personal triggers.

Treatment

Although migraines cannot be cured, your doctor can help you manage them by teaching you how to address symptoms as they arise, which may lead to fewer episodes overall. Migraine treatment can also help migraines become less severe.

Migraine is a neurological disorder that can induce a variety of symptoms in addition to “very awful headaches.” While severe, incapacitating headaches are a common symptom, other signs and symptoms may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

The disease is commonly passed down through families and can affect people of various ages. People who are allocated female at birth are more likely to be diagnosed with migraine than people who are assigned male at birth.

The diagnosis of migraine is made based on the patient’s medical history, reported symptoms, and the elimination of other possible causes. Episodic versus chronic migraine headaches (or attacks) are the most prevalent types, followed by those without aura and those with aura.

Migraine nausea

Nausea is a common migraine symptom for many people. Many people vomit as well. These signs and symptoms may appear at the same time as the attack. They usually begin approximately an hour after the headache discomfort begins.

Nausea and vomiting that accompany an attack can be as distressing as the assault itself. You may be able to take your regular migraine treatments if you merely have nausea. Vomiting, on the other hand, can make it difficult to swallow medicines or retain them in your body long enough to be absorbed. Migraines are likely to become more severe if you have to put off using your migraine medication.

Treating nausea and preventing vomiting

If you suffer nausea and vomiting, your doctor may prescribe anti-nausea or antiemetic medications to help you feel better. The antiemetic can help avoid vomiting and alleviate nausea in this scenario.

Acupressure may be beneficial in the treatment of migraine nausea. According to a 2012 study, acupressure lowered the severity of migraine-related nausea as early as 30 minutes and improved over 4 hours.

Migraine prevention

If you’ve been diagnosed with migraine, you have a few alternatives for preventing migraine attacks. Some may suit you better than others:

  • Learn which foods, odours, and situations set off your migraine attacks and stay away from them as much as possible.
  • Keep yourself hydrated. Dizziness and headaches are both symptoms of dehydration.
  • If at all possible, avoid skipping meals.
  • Concentrate on getting enough rest. The importance of a good night’s sleep for general wellness cannot be overstated.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Make stress reduction a top goal in your life.
  • Spend time and effort honing your relaxation skills.
  • Exercise on a regular basis. Exercise has been linked to a reduction in stress.

Devices for migraine

Although surgery for migraine is not indicated, various medical techniques have been explored and found to be effective in reducing migraine attacks by reducing or enhancing nervous system activity. The FDA has currently approved four neuromodulation treatments:

  • A handheld device that produces a magnetic impulse that changes electrical signalling in the brain is known as a single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulator.
  • A transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulator is a tiny, noninvasive device that uses electrical stimulation to stimulate the vagus nerve in the neck.
  • A transcutaneous supraorbital neurostimulator is a device that uses electrical stimulation to replicate the supraorbital nerves.
  • A headset that can target numerous nerves in the head is known as a multi-channel brain neuromodulation device.

Consult a doctor to determine the best neuromodulation treatment for you and your particular migraine type.

Migraine in children

Many of the same forms of migraines can affect children in the same way as adults.

Children may be more prone to developing symptoms on both sides of the head until they are in their late teens. Headache discomfort in the back of the head is uncommon in youngsters. Their migraine assaults usually last between 2 and 72 hours.

In youngsters, a few migraine types are more common. Abdominal migraine is one of the most prevalent types of migraine.

Abdominal migraine

Instead of a headache, children with abdominal migraine may experience a stomachache. The discomfort can be mild or severe. The pain is usually felt in the centre of the stomach, near the belly button. However, the pain may not be localised to one place. It’s possible that your stomach simply feels “sore.”

Your child may also be suffering from a headache. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Inability to eat
  • Nausea accompanied by or without vomiting
  • Light or sound sensitivity

As adults, children with abdominal migraine are more likely to develop conventional migraine symptoms.

Migraine attacks when pregnant

Many pregnant women report that their migraine headaches lessen during their pregnancy. However, due to abrupt hormonal alterations, they may worsen after birth. Attacks that occur during pregnancy require further care to ensure that the cause of the attack is identified.

Although further research is needed, a recent small study found that women who suffer from migraines during pregnancy are more likely to have:

  • Early or preterm delivery
  • Preeclampsia
  • A child who was born with a low birth weight
  • Certain migraine drugs might not be safe to take while pregnant.

Aspirin is one example. If you get a migraine while pregnant, consult with your doctor to identify migraine treatments that won’t harm your baby.

Overuse of Medication

The most frequent types of headaches, migraine and tension headaches, have several characteristics in common. However, migraine is accompanied by a number of symptoms that are not shared by tension headaches. Migraine and tension headaches respond to the same therapies in different ways.

Tension headaches and migraines can both have the same symptoms:

  • Mild-to-moderate discomfort
  • A constant aching
  • Both sides of the head hurt

These are symptoms that can only be experienced by migraine sufferers:

  • Moderate-to-severe discomfort
  • Throbbing or thumping
  • A lack of ability to carry out your customary activities
  • On one side of the head, there is a lot of pain.
  • Nausea accompanied by or without vomiting
  • An aura
  • Light, sound, or both sensitivities

 

Migraine vs. tension headache

The most frequent types of headaches, migraine and tension headaches, have several characteristics in common. However, migraine is accompanied by a number of symptoms that are not shared by tension headaches. Migraine and tension headaches respond to the same therapies in different ways.

Tension headaches and migraines can both have the same symptoms:

  • Mild-to-moderate discomfort
  • A constant aching
  • Both sides of the head hurt

These are symptoms that can only be experienced by migraine sufferers:

  • Moderate-to-severe discomfort
  • Throbbing or thumping
  • A lack of ability to carry out your customary activities
  • On one side of the head, there is a lot of pain.
  • Nausea accompanied by or without vomiting
  • An aura
  • Light, sound, or both sensitivities

Home remedies

There are a few things you can do at home to assist relieve migraine pain:

  • Lie down in a dark, quiet place.
  • Massage your temples or scalp.
  • Place a cold towel behind your neck and across your brow.

Outcome

Migraine symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for stroke symptoms. It’s critical to get medical help right away if you or a loved one is suffering from a headache that:

  • Produces slurred speech or facial drooping on one side
  • New leg or arm weakness
  • Fever, neck stiffness, confusion, seizure, double vision, weakness, numbness, or difficulty speaking develop suddenly and severely with no lead-in symptoms or warning.
  • Has an aura characterised by symptoms that last more than an hour
  • Would be dubbed the “worst headache of all time”
  • Is accompanied by a state of insanity

If headaches are interfering with your everyday activities and you’re not sure if they’re a migraine symptom, consult your doctor. Headaches can indicate other problems, and while migraines can be terrible at times, there are a variety of therapies available.

The sooner you begin to discuss your symptoms with your doctor, the sooner you may begin a treatment plan that may include medication as well as lifestyle changes.