There are people who can tell when they are about to have migraine. These people usually see bright shimmering lights around objects, zigzag lines or wavy images. Others experience hallucinations or temporary loss of vision.
What is Migraine?
Migraine is a condition described as a very painful type of headache, with a throbbing and pulsating pain intensified by routine physical activities, coughing, straining, or lowering of the head. The debilitating pain is so severe that it interferes with daily activities. Oftentimes, migraine sufferers end up feeling weak and fatigued once the headache is gone.
People with migraine headaches start experiencing pain in a specific area on one side of the head. Later on, the pain spreads and builds in intensity for one to two hours, and then gradually subsides. However, migraine headache can last up to 24 hours long, and in some cases, even for several days.
Migraine is generally more common in women than in men and may occur at any age between 10 to 40, then diminishes at the age of 50.
Causes of Migraine
There is no known causes of migraine, a condition which may result from a series of reactions in the central nervous system due to changes in the body or in the environment. Oftentimes, a family history of the disorder suggests that migraine sufferers may inherit sensitivity to trigger that impair the blood vessels and nerves in the brain, thereby causing pain.
Any stimulus that produces a reaction is called a Trigger. Many things can trigger a migraine attack such as:
alcohol (eg. red wine)
caffeine (coffee, chocolate)
monosodium glutamate ( MSG usually found in asian foods)
nitrates (processed foods, hotdogs)
environmental factors (weather, altitude, time zone changes)
exposure to light (brightness, glare)
hormonal changes (in women)
lack of sleep
medications (over-the-counter and prescription)
Signs and Symtoms of Migraine
During migraine attacks, people tend to be very sensitive to light (photophobia) and sound (phonophobia). There may also be signs of nausea and vomiting. Other symptoms may include cold and sweaty hands and/or feet, as well as intolerance of unusual odors.
Types of Migraine
Migraine with aura is a neurological phenomenon (aura) experienced 10 to 30 minutes prior to the headache. Auras may either be visual or non visual. Visual migraines, also called scintillating scotomas, are described as bright flashing lights or glares at the edges of the field of vision.
Non-visual auras include motor weakness, speech or language difficulties, vertigo, dizziness, and the tingling sensation or numbness of the face, tongue, or extremeties.
Migraine without aura is the most common type and may occur on one (unilateral) or both sides (bilateral) of the head. Fatigue or mood changes may occur the day prior to the headache.
Abdominal migraine is most prevalent in children with a family history of migraine. Symptoms include abdominal pain without a gastro-intestinal cause (may last up to 72 hours), nausea, vomiting, and flushing or paleness. Children who have abdominal migraine often develop typical migraine as they grow older.
Basilar artery migraine is the disruption of the basilar artery in the brain stem characterized by intense headache, vertigo, double vision, slurred speech, and poor muscle coordination. This is prevalent among the youth.
Carotidynia, also known as lower-half headache or facial migraine, is described as deep, dull aching and sometimes piercing pain in the jaw or neck where there is tenderness and swelling over the carotid artery in the neck. This is most common in older people and may occur several times weekly and last a few minutes to hours.
Headache-free migraine is having the presence of aura without the headache. This is common to patients with a history of migraine with aura.
Ophthalmoplegic migraine is characterized by a headache that is first felt in the eye area and is accompanied by vomiting. As the headache intensifies, the eyelid droops (ptosis) and the nerves responsible for the eye movement become paralyzed.
Status migraine is a rare type that involves excruciating pain that can last even longer than 72 hours. The patient may require hospitalization.
There are several over-the-counter and prescription medicines that can help prevent migraine attacks or aid in relieving symptoms of attacks when they happen. For most people, treatments to relieve stress prove to be equally helpful as migraine remedies. Always remember to consult your physicians for proper diagnosis of your condition before taking any medication.
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