Headache, migraine

Other names: Migraine

DEFINITION

A Migraine headache can cause intense throbbing or a pulsing sensation in one area of the head and is commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can cause significant pain for hours to days and be so severe that all you can think about is finding a dark, quiet place to lie down. Some Migraines are preceded or accompanied by sensory warning symptoms (aura), such as flashes of light, blind spots, or tingling in your arm or leg. Medications can help reduce the frequency and severity of Migraines.

SYMPTOMS

Migraine headaches often begin in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood. Migraines may progress through four stages, including prodrome, aura, headache, and postdrome, though you may not experience all the stages.

CAUSES

Although much about the cause of Migraines isn't understood, genetics and environmental factors appear to play a role. Imbalances in brain chemicals — including serotonin — also may be involved. Serotonin levels drop during Migraine attacks.

RISK FACTORS

Several factors make you more prone to having Migraines such as family history, age, sex, and hormonal changes.

COMPLICATIONS

Complications from Migraines include abdominal problems, medication-overuse headaches, serotonin syndrome, chronic Migraine, status migrainosus, persistent aura without infarction, and migrainous infarction.

PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

Before your appointment with a doctor trained in evaluating and treating headaches (neurologist), write down symptoms you're experiencing, key personal information, list of medications you're taking, questions to ask your doctor. Keep a headache diary and reduce stress while waiting for your appointment.

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS

Your doctor may diagnose Migraines based on your medical history, symptoms review, physical examination. They may also recommend blood tests, CT scan, MRI scan or spinal tap if needed.

TREATMENTS AND DRUGS

Migraines can't be cured but managed with medications like pain relievers and preventive medications. Lifestyle changes can also help reduce the number and severity of Migraines.

LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES

Avoiding triggers like certain foods or odors, regular exercise to reduce tension and prevent Migraines. Reduce the effects of estrogen if it triggers your headaches.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE Nontraditional therapies like acupuncture, biofeedback, massage therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy may be helpful for chronic Migraine pain. Some herbs and supplements like butterbur or riboflavin may prevent or reduce the severity of Migraines.

QUESTIONS

  1. What are some common symptoms of a migraine?

Intense throbbing or pulsing sensation in one area of the head.

Nausea.

Vomiting.

Extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

  1. What are some triggers for migraines?

Hormonal changes in women.

Foods like aged cheeses or processed foods.

Stress.

Sensory stimuli like bright lights.

  1. When should you see a doctor regarding migraines?

If the pattern of your headaches changes suddenly.

If you experience signs like fever or seizures with a headache.

If you have a chronic headache that worsens after certain activities.

  1. What are some complications associated with migraines?

Abdominal problems from pain relievers.

Medication-overuse headaches.

Serotonin syndrome.

  1. What lifestyle changes can help reduce migraines?

Avoiding triggers like certain foods or odors.

Regular exercise to reduce tension.

Establishing a daily routine with regular sleep patterns.

  1. What are some alternative therapies for managing migraines?

Acupuncture.

Biofeedback.

Massage therapy.

  1. How are migraines diagnosed by doctors?

Based on medical history and symptoms review

Physical examination

Blood tests

Imaging tests like CT scan or MRI

  1. What are some preventive medications for migraines?

Beta blockers

Tricyclic antidepressants

Anti-seizure drugs

  1. Can lifestyle changes alone cure migraines?

No, lifestyle changes can help manage migraines but cannot cure them entirely.

  1. Are there any herbal remedies that can help with migraines?

Yes, herbs like butterbur and supplements like riboflavin have shown some effectiveness in preventing or reducing migraine severity.