We all get headaches occasionally, that widely vary in severity. A migraine is a certain type of headache that cannot be treated by the use of basic pain relievers because of its intensity. Migraines are characterized by severe headaches that affect one or both sides of the head and is commonly accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.
About 12% of Americans get migraines.
During a migraine attack, a person may experience increased sensitivity to stimuli such as light, sound, and smell. Warning signs that often precede a migraine attack include numbness in one or both limbs, a strange smell, seeing flickering lights, and blind spots, among others. Migraine attacks can be annoying and dangerous as it severely affects the nervous system. It may last between a few minutes to several hours and may force a person to lie still until the pain subsides. Only a qualified physician should be consulted with regards to treating migraines.
No one has been able to exactly pinpoint migraines to a single cause. It can only be inferred and attributed to the nervous system. Researchers have also identified that migraines can be hereditary. There are, however, common triggers to the problem, which include poor quality of sleep(1) and sometimes missing a meal(2). Other researchers have identified individual triggers like stuffy rooms, specific foods and caffeine withdrawals as common causes. Whereas exercise, sex, and other intense and emotional activity may be good for one’s health, extensive stress on the body may eventually trigger migraines (3).
Popular approaches to treating migraines can be classified into two categories, namely; acute treatment and preventive treatment. The first option is where the prescribed medication is ingested during the attack to stop it. This is usually much more effective and is expected to act within a short time. The second approach is where the patient regularly takes medication or undergoes therapy such as acupuncture that helps reduce or prevent the attacks and does this over a relatively long period of time. Over the counter pain-relievers used for acute treatment include acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen. Rare drugs used for managing migraines include certain drugs that were initially developed for epilepsy, depression and treating high blood pressure.
Migraines often go undiagnosed, untreated and can ruin one’s quality of life, so it’s pertinent that anyone suffering from it should immediately seek medical attention. Anyone experiencing headaches with double vision, weakness, fever or mental confusion should contact a qualified physician as soon as possible (4). Migraines can be commonly identified for their debilitating thunderclap-like headache. Behavioral changes such as high-cholesterol diets, smoking, and heavy drinking should be avoided. Some headaches have similar traits to migraines, and one should seek a qualified physician to further their understanding of the disease.
Most people hear migraines and imagine intense severe headaches that may be an indication of an underlying health condition. Psychological changes like sleep, hunger, and exercise immensely contribute to sensory disturbance, thereby triggering migraines. While symptoms vary from person to person, knowing how to identify the disease in time is critical in the prevention and treatment of migraines. It has been identified as one contributing factor that may lead to frustration, anxiety, and poor quality of life.