A migraine is a painful, severe headache that is often accompanied by sensory warning signs such as flashes of light, blind spots, nausea, tingling in the arms and legs vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light and sound. The extreme pain that migraines bring can last for hours or even days.
Causes of migraines:
Some people who suffer from migraines can clearly identify the cause of headaches. Migraine triggers include:
1. Allergies and allergic reactions
2. Bright lights, loud noises and certain odors or perfumes
3. Smoking or exposure to smoke
4. Skipping meals or fasting
6. Physical or emotional stress
7. irregular sleep or wrong sleep patterns
8. Birth control pills, Menstrual cycle fluctuations, hormone fluctuations during menopause onset
9. Tension headaches
10. Foods containing tyramine (red wine, aged cheese, chicken livers, smoked fish, figs, and some beans), monosodium glutamate (MSG), or nitrates (like bacon, hot dogs and salami)
11. Other food items such as chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, avocado, banana, citrus, onions, dairy products and fermented or pickled foods.
Migraines with auras - Many people experience migraines with auras just before or during the head pain, but most do not.
Auras are perceptual disturbances as follows:
· confusing thoughts or experiences
· the perception of sparkling, strange lights, or flashing lights
· lines in the visual field
· blind spots
· pins and needles in an arm or leg
· stiffness in the shoulders, neck or limbs
· unpleasant smells
Signs and symptoms
Any time, Symptoms of migraine can occur immediately before and after the headache. Although not all migraines are same, some very common symptoms are:
Usually confined to one side of the head, moderate to severe pain, but switching in successive migraines
· Pulsing and throbbing head pain
· Increasing pain at physical activity
· Not able perform regular activities due to pain
· Increased sensitivity
New developments on migraine symptoms from MNT news
Researchers and experienced from INSERM, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Bordeaux, and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, found that women who have migraines with aura have a higher risk of heart attack, while those taking newer contraceptives may have a greater risk of blood clots.
How is migraine diagnosed?
Firstly Physicians look at family medical history and check the patient for the symptoms explained above in order to diagnosis of migraine.
The International Headache Society recommends the "5, 4, 3, 2, 1 criteria" to diagnose migraines without aura.
It stands for:
5 or more attacks
4 hours to 3 days in duration
At least 2 of unilateral location, moderate to severe pain pulsating quality, aggravation by or avoidance of routine physical activity
At least 1 additional symptom such as:
· Sensitivity to light
· Sensitivity to sound
Some Tests such as
1. electroencephalography (EEG)
2. computed tomography (CT)
3. magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Spinal tap can also be performed that check for:
· Bleeding within the skull
· Blood clots within the membrane that covers the brain
· Either too much or too little cerebrospinal fluid
· Dilated blood vessel in the brain
· Nasal sinus blockage
· Postictal headache (after stroke or seizure)
· Inflammation of the or spinal cord or membranes of the brain
Treatment and prevention
· Getting enough sleep
· Reducing stress
· Drinking plenty of water
· Avoiding certain foods
· Regular physical exercise.
Migraine treatment (abortive therapies) and prevention (prophylactic therapies) focus on avoiding triggers, controlling symptoms and taking medicines.
Medications such as:
· Acetaminophen (paracetamol)
Other analgesics like:
Excedrin (aspirin with caffeine) are often the first abortive therapies to eliminate the headache or substantially reduce pain.
Anti-emetics may also be used to control symptoms such as nausea and vomiting -
Serotonin agonists such as sumatriptan may also be prescribed for severe migraines or for migraines that are not responding to the over-the-counter medications. As like some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) -antidepressants such as tricyclics - are prescribed to reduce migraine symptoms although they are not approved in all countries for this purpose.
Another kind of abortive treatment is called ergots, which are usually effective if administered at the first sign of migraine.
Other drugs have also been used to treat migraine such as combinations of paracetamol or aspirin, barbituates and caffeine (Fioricet or Fiorinal) and combinations of acetaminophen, dichloralphenazone, and isometheptene (Amidrine, Duadrin, and Midrin).
Prophylactic therapies (prevention)
Migraine can only prevent by avoiding things that trigger the condition. Exactly prophylactic therapies reduce the pain and duration of migraine headaches and to increase the effectiveness of abortive therapies.
There are many more categories of migraine medicine, ranging from diet changes and exercise to prescription drugs.
Prescription beta blockers, anticonvulsants and antidepressants
Botulinum toxin A (Botox)
Herbs and vitamins such as:
· coenzyme Q10
· magnesium citrate
There is some Surgery that severs corrugator supercilii muscle and zygomaticotemporal nerve in the brain
Spinal cord stimulator implantation
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
Exercise, sleep, sexual activity
Visualization and self-hypnosis
Chiropractic care or acupuncture
Special diets such as gluten free
It is possible for people to get medication excessive use headache (MOH), or rebound headache, when taking too many medications in an attempt to prevent migraine.