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Understanding Migraine, the mighty headache

Migraine Means:

  It is a primary headache disorder defined as recurrent episodes of headache that are moderate to severe, throbbing or pulsating in nature and typically affect the one half of the head and last from four to 72 hours. Headache may be associated with vomiting, nausea, sensitivity to sound, light or smell. The pain is commonly made worsen by physical activity. Medical management can helpful Medications can help prevent some migraines and make them less painful.

Talk to your doctor about different migraine treatment options if you can’t find relief. The right medicines, combined with self-help remedies and lifestyle changes, may help.

Symptoms and causes

Migraines often start in childhood, youth or early middle age. Migraines may progress through four stages: prodrome, aura, headache and post-drome, though you may not experience all stages. To the fact, 70% of the children having migraines are hereditary.

Prodrome phase:

Prodromal or premonitory symptoms occurs one or two days before a migraine, you may notice unpleasant changes that warn of an upcoming migraine. These include:

  • Changes in bowel habit – Constipation
  • Changes in mood, from depression to excitement
  • Carving of food or aversion to food
  • Stiffness of Neck
  • Need for liquids and urination
  • Recurrent yawning

Aura Phase:

An aura phase may or may not occur prior to headache depending upon the type of migraine. It is a temporary focal neurological sensation occurs before or during the headache. Auras appears gradually over a number of minutes and generally last less than 60 minutes. Symptoms may be visual, sensory or motor in nature and many people experience more than one. Visual effects occur most frequently.

Headache Phase:

The frequency of headache varies from person to person.  A migraine usually lasts from four to 72 hours if untreated.

During a migraine, you may experience:

  • Pain on one side or both sides of your head
  • Throbbing or pulsating headache
  • Sensitivity to light, sounds, and sometimes smells and touch
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision

Post-drome Phase:

This phase is a last phase of migraine attack and which occurs after migraine attack so known as post-drome. In this phase you may feel

  • Confusion
  • Moodiness
  • Dizziness
  • Faintness or weakness
  • Sensitivity to light and sound.

SEE RELATED: Why Migraines Cause Poor Sleep?

When will you meet doctor?

In Majority cases Migraine is undiagnosed and untreated. If you frequently experience signs and symptoms of migraine, keep a record of attacks and how you treated them.

Meet or consult your doctor and inform about such incidence. Give proper history of headache including frequency, pattern and type.

Meet your doctor urgently if you face any of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Sudden severe headache
  • Headache with fever, stiffness of neck, confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness or trouble in speaking
  • Severe Headache after severe head injury
  • A long-lasting headache which is worse after coughing, exertion, straining or a sudden movement

Reasons:

The exact cause of migraine is not yet find out, but genetics and environmental factors appear to play a role. Imbalances in brain chemicals that is serotonin, which helps regulate pain in your nervous system. The level of Serotonin levels drop during migraine attacks.

What are the triggers of Migraine:

  • Hormonal changes in women or Medications:

In majority of woman cases it is found that they have history of migraine attack immediately before or after of their period. It is due to the higher level of estrogen in their blood. This estrogen seems to be trigger headaches in women. In some female it is found to have an increased tendency to develop migraines during pregnancy or menopause. Oral contraceptive pills or other contraceptive pills may causes or worsen the headache.

  • Foods or food additives: Some food like cheeses, salty foods or processed foods may trigger or increases migraines. Sometimes fasting may causes migraine. The preservatives may trigger migraines.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol or highly caffeine containing drinks may trigger migraines.
  • Mental Stress or Physical factor: Psychological Stress at work or intense physical exertion, including sexual activity, may aggravate the headache.
  • Sensory stimuli: Bright lights or sun light, loud noisy sound, strong smells, paint thinner, smoke can increases migraine attack.
  • Changes in sleep pattern: Missing sleep or getting too much sleep may trigger migraines in some people, as can jet lag.
  • Environmental Changes: A change of weather or barometric pressure can prompt a migraine.

Risk factors

  • Family history
  • Age. Migraines can begin at any age, it often occurs during youth. Migraines tend to peak during your 30s, and gradually become less severe and less frequent in the following decades.
  • Gender: Women are three times more likely to have migraines. Headaches tend to affect boys more than girls during childhood, but by the time of puberty and beyond, more girls are affected.
  • Hormonal changes

Diagnosis

  • History: History plays an important role to diagnose migraine. If you have migraines or a family history of migraines, a doctor trained (neurologist) will likely diagnose migraines based on your medical history, sign and symptoms, and physical and neurological examination.

Your doctor may recommend more tests to rule out other possible causes for your pain if your condition is unusual..

  • Blood tests
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computerized tomography scan (CT SCAN)
  • CSF fluid – lumbar puncture tapping
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Dr. Vishal Jogi

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