migraine

A Complete Guide to Migraine

Migraines are extremely severe, throbbing headaches that last from anywhere from 4 hours to 3 days, and leave you completely exhausted and washed out at the end of it. They are quite common and affect anyone, regardless of their age group. Women are twice as likely to suffer from these types of headaches as men.

Types of Migraine

There are two types of migraine – Common migraine, which is migraine without aura and classic migraine, which is migraine with aura. Here, “aura” is a reference to the symptoms that affect the vision, such as confusion, clumsiness and disturbances that affect the hearing and other senses. Migraine with aura lasts for 4 minutes to 1 hour and affects 15 percent of those suffering from migraine.

Causes

Migraine attacks are caused by changes in the blood vessels around the brain. So far researchers haven’t been able to come to an understanding of why this happens. It is estimated that over 70 percent of those suffering from migraine also have a family history of migraine. So, it follows that these types of headaches are often inherited from one generation of a family to another.

Symptoms

Migraines are extremely painful, throbbing sensations that affect one side of the head and builds up gradually over minutes. Symptoms of these types of headaches are, sensitivity to light and sounds, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, clumsiness, weakness and visual problems such as blurred vision, flashing lights or blind spots. The early symptoms of migraine are referred to as the “Aura Stage.”

People who have migraine are affected by the slightest movement, light and sound, as they make the condition worse. Migraine attacks can come out of nowhere, without a warning. People suffering from migraine experience tiredness and a strong craving for sugary foods. Depression is one of the common consequences of migraine.

If you happen to have a severe headache that lasts for a day or more, and is accompanied by fever or neck pain, or have any unusual symptoms that you are worried about, then you must seek an appointment with a doctor and get yourself evaluated for migraine.

Prevention

The best way to prevent migraine is to know what triggers it. Some of the factors that are found to trigger a migraine are stress, missed meals, too much sleep or too little, binging on sweet, sugary foods, Chinese foods, bananas, an overdose of caffeine drinks such as coffee, tea and Coca Cola, alcohol (red wine in particular), contraceptive pills, jet lag and travelling non-stop, environmental changes, hormonal changes, especially during pregnancy, periods or menopause. Your migraine may have been triggered by one of these factors or by a combination of multiple factors. The trigger factors that cause migraine may be different from different individuals.

Diagnosis

During the diagnosis, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and their progression. They may carry out a physical examination. You will be asked to maintain a diary for a month, to see if there’s a pattern to your migraine attacks and to identify what triggers them.

Treatments

There is no perfect treatment or medication as yet. However, you can limit the severity of a migraine or even prevent it from happening by stopping all activities when you feel it is about to start, taking a paracetamol or an aspirin and lying down in dark, quiet room. If this technique doesn’t work for you, your doctor will suggest other medications. But for any medication to work, it is important that it should be taken at the start of the attack, not later. Your doctor may ask you to take preventive medication if you suffer from headaches at least once or twice a week. If your migraine is triggered by a certain factor, and you’re able to identify it, you can prevent it from occurring in the future by avoiding the trigger completely.

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