Migraine is not just a headache it’s a complex neurological disease that impacts more than one billion people worldwide. Women are more commonly affected than men, and they usually begin in early adulthood, but can occur at any age, including in children.
But what exactly is a migraine?
Migraines usually affect one side of the head and cause throbbing or pulsing pain. Along with the headache, people also commonly experience increased sensitivity: to light, noise, and smells, and may also experience nausea or vomiting. Each episode usually lasts anywhere between an hour to a few days, with symptoms typically easing after rest in a dark and quiet room.
The cause of migraines is not yet well understood, though we think it has something to do with the blood vessels, nerves, and chemicals in the brain. Genetics might have a role since migraines can run in families. There are lots of different types of migraines and so the symptoms are very different from person to person. These symptoms can occur in stages, although not all people experience all the stages.
How Migraine Triggers
For people who suffer from migraines, certain triggers can lead episodes to occur. These include stress and exertion, lack of sleep, particular foods and drinks, skipping meals, weather changes, hormonal changes, and environments with bright lights, noise, or smell. These triggers will vary from person to person. There is no specific test for diagnosing migraines, so doctors will ask about your symptoms. To aid in the diagnosis, it might help to keep a headache diary, by noting down: when they happen, what you are doing at the time, how long they last, and what other symptoms you experience. For more exciting stuff please subscribe to our Facebook Page.
So how is migraine treated?
When a migraine occurs, sleeping or lying down in a dark and quiet room can help, along with simple pain relief medication. Your doctor might suggest a group of drugs called triptans, which act on the chemicals and blood vessels in the brain. Anti-sickness medication can also be used if nausea and vomiting are a problem. If these medications are not enough to treat migraine episodes, there is another preventative medication that doctors may try, to reduce the frequency and severity of episodes, although these may not always work. Another way of managing migraines is to avoid the triggers that bring them on. If you keep a diary of migraine symptoms, patterns may emerge that help you identify what triggers to avoid. It can also help to maintain a generally healthy lifestyle, including regular sleep, exercise, and meals, and limiting caffeine, smoking, and alcohol intake. For more exciting stuff please subscribe to our Facebook Page.