Migraine is a serious condition which needs attention.
Before discussing anything else, the first thing is to differ it from a headache.
Headaches are common. Majority of the people face it regularly due to certain triggers.
The pain is mainly on the head and relates to the nervous system.
Its intensity differs for different people. Where someone might have a dull pain, others have a throbbing and sharp sensation which becomes unbearable at times.
But they can be treated with medication and stress management.
How Migraines Differ from Headaches?
However a migraine is a stronger, pulsating headache that comes with conditions like nausea, vomiting and for some, high sensitivity to light.
This blog aims to provide you with complete information and latest statistics on what are migraines, types of headaches, the signs and symptoms and treatments that work and ways to prevent migraine.
The condition differs from regular headaches because it affects your lifestyle on a drastic level.
It can also cause psychological concerns like depression and isolation.
Where a headache is bilateral and feels like pressure is being applied, it is a tension headache and not really a migraine.
The major difference is you can continue with your daily routine and tasks without issues in normal headache but migraine is a different story.
Now let’s move onto how you can identify the pain you are feeling
The major symptom is you will have a throbbing and pounding pain and are facing one of your migraine attacks.
Sometimes it starts off as a dull sensation but it escalates to something unbearable.
If it continues at the same intensity, it will hinder your physical activities and daily tasks. Most often it can move from one side of the head to another position.
In certain cases the pain is spread across the full head and it can last for hours if not treated.
Migraine pain differs from one patient to another. Where some people get a few attacks in a month, others have to endure heavy pain more often.
The following are some of the most common symptoms a patient feels or will feel during their pain sensations:
- High sensitivity to light
- High sensitivity to noise and odours
- Feeling nauseous and vomiting
- Getting stomach and abdominal pain
- Having a loss of appetite
- Getting a sensation of cold chills
- Sweating profusely
- A pale colour
- Getting tired
- Dizziness taking over
- Blurred vision episodes
- Tender scalp sensation
- In certain diarrhea happens
- Another rarity is high fever
Other vague symptoms in certain cases- anxiety, mood swings, tiredness, fatigue, heavy food cravings and neck pain
Now we will talk about some of the common things that will trigger your headache:
These are headaches associated with pregnancy or when a woman ovulates. Symptoms can also arise in cases where a person using birth control, or has had a hormone replacement therapy.
It is common as your brain releases chemicals which make the blood vessels to constrict. This is a common trigger and the migraine starts off mildly but it can gradually become severe.
Types of Foods
There are certain kinds of food items which can trigger your migraine rapidly. These are aged cheese, food additives and processed foods.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a common item which triggers migraines.
Caffeine is also a major migraine trigger if you are getting too much caffeine or not much as you usually do.
Certain migraine types are easily triggered by weather conditions like stormy days, strong winds or facing a change in altitude.
Having to face certain loud noises, extreme bright lights can trigger certain migraines,
Even strong smells can set off a migraine.
There can be many kinds of activities which can trigger migraines which are rigorous and cause heavy exertion like extreme exercise.
Having a proper rest is will keep your health optimal. Sudden changes in your sleeping patterns will trigger a migraine. Either too much or too less sleep, both ways, can cause migraines.
So far this post was about understanding and identifying the symptoms and triggers of a migraine.
Let’s now talk about the types of migraines and we will kick start this discussion with hitting on:
What is an aura?
This is a concept which is relatively still unknown among migraine patients.
It is basically a warning signal that a migraine is going to set in soon. In certain cases this appears even after the pain, signaling that it will end soon.
It is known to affect your senses, causing effects like a ringing in the ears, having a tingling sensation in the arms or face and facing difficulty speaking.
You will also be subjected to changes in taste and smell, having a sense of strange odors.
An aura’s major identification is that it causes vision issues which include:
- Flashing light
- Seeing scattered dots
- Visioning blind spots
- Having a distorted vision
- Facing a temporary vision loss
- Seeing jagged lines
Some rare migraines are linked to specific neurological auras. These include:
Brainstem migraine– also called ‘basilar migraines’, it is known to occur mostly in adults. It is when the aura begins at the base of the brain which is the brainstem. It can also happen on both sides of the brain.
Hemiplegic migraine– this is also a rare kind of migraine in which the aura is very intense. So intense that it weakness one part of the body or area, which is then termed as hemiplegia. This is like a temporary paralysis of the body and you will feel numbness and dizziness.
Retinal migraine-this is considered as an aura-triggered migraine as it causes changes in your vision before the migraine even sets in.
Migraine with aura-this is also called a classic migraine. It is one of the most common kinds of migraines. It can take place with or without a headache. And has a consistency of staying for a while.
Now that we have a good understanding on what kinds of migraines associate with aura, we will now talk about migraines which happen without an aura.
These are much more common, targeting a huge age group. The major difference is that a person will not have a sensory disturbance before an episode sets in.
According to the Migraine Trust , 70 to 90% of episodes occur without aura.
And there are even some other kinds to look into:
Other Migraine Categories
Chronic migraine– a migraine which takes place on a fixed time-frame for example happening at least once every 2 weeks.
Menstrual migraine– this migraine depends on your menstrual cycle, taking place on its schedule every month.
Hemiplegic migraine-it causes temporary weakness in one part of the body.
Abdominal migraine-in case of irregular functioning of your abdomen, it will trigger a migraine. Some of the common symptoms of this type is you will be nauseous or vomiting regularly. It usually affects children under the age of 15.
Vestibular migraine– having severe vertigo identifies with this migraine type.
Basilar migraine– this is also rare and uncommon like aura-heightened migraines. It is associated with extreme risk factors and complications like neurological effects including speech impairment and neurological problems.
Are Migraines Curable?
Getting to know all the details and various kinds of migraines can take over your life, it is a scary realization.
And you will probably want to know if there’s a cure.
Unfortunately your migraine isn’t curable. However there are different medicines which can help to prevent and stop the symptoms from becoming too severe or unmanageable.
We will now look into ways in which you can manage your migraine:
Treatment with Medication
Let’s look into the migraine treatment you can opt for.
There are certain medications which will help to reduce the symptoms or prevent any more attacks. Let’s see what these are:
These are the kind of medicines you will take when you get the first sensation that a migraine is about to hit out. Several types are:
Pain relievers– simple pain-killers will not provide instant relief. You will need over-the-counter pain killers like Advil or Motrin IB. However they come with side effects like ulcers and gastrointestinal tract bleeding.
Simple medications like aspirin wouldn’t help unless you have a very mild migraine pain.
Triptans- they are prescription drugs. They work by blocking the pain pathways of the brain, like pills, shots or even nasal sprays. However a doctor’s full check-up will determine if suits your needs or no.
It can’t be given to those likely to get a stroke or have a heart condition.
Opioid medications– you will get this type of medication in case you aren’t suited for other kind of treatments. They contain codeine and are taken as last resort because they are addictive.
Anti-nausea drugs-if you are experiencing intense migraines and they cause nausea and vomiting, then this drug is for you. They help in combating the vomiting and are taken with certain pain medications.
Let’s now look into the:
These medications will help to prevent the setting of frequent migraines.
Some people are subjected to constant and severe headaches and it affects their daily routine heavily.
If you are not responding well to different treatments therefor this is a good option. It includes:
Blood pressure medications- you can opt for medicines which will lower your BP levels.It includes beta blockers like Innopran XL and Lopressor. Calcium channel blockers aim to control the triggering of migraines with aura.
Antidepressants-despite causing common side effects like laziness and lethargy, many people opt to have these to control the onset of severe migraines- with or without aura.
Anti-seizure drugs– Topamax is one of the popular kinds, which helps in high-frequency migraines. It comes with common side effects like lethargy, nausea and more.
Botox injections-these injections do more than just make your skin better. In some cases, adults with severe and regular headaches have talked on how Botox injections helped reduce the frequency of them.
Migraines cause major disruption to your daily routine.
But did you know that you have the power to control the extent of it by adapting some lifestyle changes?
Moving forward, we will now talk about:
Natural Home Remedies and Lifestyle Changes
As a migraine patient, you have some control over your painful episodes.
Be Your Own Doctor
Have a diary or log system to note when do they usually take place and what are the triggers or symptoms.
Make your own observation. This will help you to look at the patterns and identify factors that lead to migraine development.
Once you have a better understanding of their occurrence as well as through your own analysis, you can:
*Maintain a regular schedule for eating
*Adapt a proper sleeping pattern
*Avoid certain food items that are likely triggering a migraine
*Indulge in relaxation strategies and meditation
This includes relaxation exercises which help your muscles to relax and help in improving your breathing patterns. It includes mind-body activities like:
Progressive muscle relaxation
One of the major reasons which are ignored is the food you are consuming. There are many food items
A person consuming food items which are wholesome and natural foods without any preservatives or artificial flavorings are less likely to have severe and regular migraines.
While there isn’t a specific food plan that migraine patients can follow, to relieve symptoms, the PCRM considers the following foods and beverages pain-safe:
Orange, yellow, and green vegetables like summer squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, and spinach
Carbonated, spring, or tap water
Rice like brown rice
Dried or cooked fruits like cherries and cranberries
Natural sweeteners or flavours like maple syrup and vanilla extract
Understanding the particular triggers of your migraines and avoiding them may help some sufferers decrease the frequency of attacks.
Living with a Migraine
It is a medical condition and it happens often. It is more severe than a headache. As a result, a migraine can disrupt your daily routine and lifestyle.
However, it is something which you can manage and live with.
It is all about knowing what is your type and what triggers it. Create a life pattern around that.
As a result it will help you to manage the severity of your attacks.
If you need assistance, you can reach out to our highly capable team of medical professionals at Dr.Amal Al Qedrah.
We will provide you consultation and migraine treatment plan in identifying and managing a happy, healthy life around your migraine.
Remember you are capable to control it, and not the other way around.