A migraine is a painful and severe headache. It is usually experienced on one side of the head and often activated by specific situations and environment. It is most commonly found in women and may inhibit a person from carrying out daily tasks. They are accompanied by warning signs like sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, vomiting, tingling in legs etc. This pain can last for hours and sometimes even days.
Symptoms of Migraine:
Migraines start with intense pain, usually on one side of the head. The pain circulates towards the eyes, forehead and temple. As a result of this excruciating pain, a person may develop nausea, vomiting and some vision problems.
Pain increases as a person undertakes physical activity. Patient also experiences sensitivity to light and sound, finds relief in darkened areas. Other symptoms include sweating, change in temperatures, and stomach ache.
Migraines with aura:
For many, who are suffering from migraines, aura acts as a pre-telling sign that warns a person that the headache is soon to arrive. Auras are not experienced by everyone. Around 20 percent of the people experience aura. It starts an hour before the actual pain starts.
Auras are disturbances that cause confusing thoughts. People perceive zigzag lines and flashing lights in the field. Difficulty in speaking is experienced and shoulders, neck etc. may feel stiff. When aura occurs, people may see things that are not actually present. They may see only a part of an object and not see the complete object present in front of them.
Around 25 percent of the patients experience prodromal phase. It develops a day before migraine starts. This phase is comprised of mood changes and development of sensitivity to smell and taste.
For people with migraines, not being able to sleep properly or wake up feeling tired is a common complaint. People suffer from insomnia as a result of migraines. It is a vicious cycle. Migraine cause lack of sleep which further aggravates the condition.
People with migraines also report sinus like symptoms. Stuffy nose or watery eyes is very common. Frequent urination is another symptom, which means migraine may be on its way. You must be careful if you are yawning every few minutes. It is also a symptom of migraine.
Causes of Migraines:
Genetics and environmental factors are thought to be the major causes of migraine.
There may be a chemical imbalance in the brain. Chemicals like serotonin may be out of place. It regulates pain in the nervous system. The levels of serotonin decrease during migraine attacks. This results in releasing of neuropeptides by trigeminal nerves. Neuropeptides travel to brain’s meninges and cause migraine pain
Triggers of Migraines:
- Sensory Stimulus: Bright lights and loud sounds induce migraines. Even strong smells such as paint, perfume etc. may trigger migraine.
- Anxiety and Stress: Anxiety and stress at home or work can potentially induce migraine. In order to avoid migraine from happening, try to lead a stress-free life.
- Lack of food and Sleep: Regular intake of food and lack of sleep interruptions may help in avoiding migraines. Intake of alcohol may trigger hormones.
- Hormonal Changes: Fluctuating levels of estrogen may cause headaches in women. Periods in women may trigger migraine as there is quite a drop in estrogen level. Hormonal medications and consumption of contraceptives may make migraines worse.
Treatment of Migraines:
There are many types of migraine medicines. Some common ones are aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium. These medicines may be helpful but should not be overused as they may cause toxicity and sometimes make migraines worse. Triptans are most commonly used treatment for migraines. However, these are not recommended for people with heart disease, hypertension and stroke. Another class of medicines prescribed are ergotamines. These may have potential side effects and may undergo interactions with other drugs.