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Migraine: Symptoms, Types, Prevention and Treatment

Team AckoAug 23, 2022

Headaches can be of 150 different types! They can be divided into two categories, primary and secondary. If you are diagnosed with a primary headache, it would mean there is no other underlying cause or disease causing the headache. Migraines fall in this first category, i.e. they can be the primary cause of headaches. The following article has helpful information on symptoms, types, prevention and treatment for migraines for your reference. Have a look.

Migraine Headache

What is a migraine?

A migraine is a severe type of headache that produces a pulsing sensation and sharp pain on either side of the brain. These headaches may also accompany a sound or light sensitivity, nausea, or vomiting. Patients with migraines frequently experience severe dull pain in addition to perforating and hammering discomfort. It may begin on one side of the head before moving to the opposite.

What are the types of migraines? 

There are numerous varieties of migraines. The migraines that occur with an aura (sometimes referred to as a classic migraine) and those that occur without an aura are the two most typical types (or common migraine). Here is a list of other types of migraines that people can experience.

  1. Ophthalmoplegic migraine - Your eye's surrounding muscles become paralysed, causing pain around your eye. The migraine pain symptoms could be brought on by an aneurysm or strain on the nerves behind the eye leading to a medical emergency. A droopy eyelid, double vision, or different vision alterations are other symptoms.

  2. Vestibular migraine - Irrespective of a headache, you may experience balance issues, vertigo, nausea, and vomiting. This type typically affects people who have had motion sickness in the past.

  3. Menstrual migraine - When this occurs, the headache and a woman's period are related.

  4. Abdominal migraine - A lot is unknown about this variety among experts. It induces nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. It frequently affects kids and could develop into classic migraine headaches over time.

  5. Silent migraine - A migraine of this type is sometimes called an acephalgic migraine. You don't have a headache but have aura symptoms.

  6. Ophthalmic migraine - Ocular or retinal migraine is another name for this condition. It results in a brief, complete, or total loss of vision in one eye and a dull headache that may radiate to the rest of your head. If you notice any changes in your sight, seek medical attention immediately.

  7. Hemiplegic migraine - You experience a brief episode of weakness or hemiplegia on one side of your body. Additionally, you can have numbness, vertigo, or altered eyesight. Seek immediate medical attention because these migraine symptoms may also indicate a stroke.

  8. Status migrainosus - Over 72 hours may pass between attacks of this severe type of migraine. You might need to visit the hospital since the pain and nausea are so severe. They may occasionally be brought on by medications or drug discontinuation.

  9. Migraine with brainstem aura - Before the headache, there may be vertigo, confusion, or balance issues. The back of your head can be affected by the ache. These symptoms typically appear out of the blue and might be accompanied by vomiting, ringing in the ears, and difficulty in speaking. This particular type of migraine primarily affects young adult women and is closely related to hormonal fluctuations. 

Signs and symptoms of migraine

Migraine symptoms may differ as per the stage you are in. Sensitivity to light, sound, and scent are typical signs. According to physicians, there are four major stages of migraines. If you are wondering what the symptoms of migraine are, here’s a list.

Prodrome (pre-migraine symptoms) Being hypersensitive to scent, sound, or light, Yearning for food or a lack of appetite, Fatigue, Extreme thirst, Bloating or diarrhoea, Mood swings
Aura See wavy lines, flashes of light, black spots, or objects that aren't there (hallucinations), Tunnel vision, Blindness, One side of your body is tingling or numb, Inability to talk clearly, Heaviness in arms and legs, Ringing in ears, Alterations in your senses of taste, smell, or touch
Attack A migraine headache frequently starts as a dull aching that intensifies into throbbing pain. It can worsen if you exercise. The pain may be in the front portion of your head, travel from one side of your head to the other, or feel as though it is pervasive throughout your brain. Most people experience a headache and vomiting, and nausea. Additionally, you can feel dizzy, cold, or pale. The average duration of a migraine attack can be 4 hours, although more severe cases can continue for up to 3 days. Two to four headaches per month are typical. While some people only experience migraines once or twice a year, others may experience them frequently.
Postdrome Feeling worn out, drained, or irritable, Being unusually energised or content, Aching or weakened muscles, Craving some food items, Lack of appetite

What causes migraines?

There are numerous potential causes of migraines. The most frequent cause, according to medical studies, is aberrant brain activity, which momentarily alters nerve messages, blood vessels, and chemical composition in the brain. An individual experiences migraine pain when this and the triggers are present.

What triggers a migraine?

There have been several hypothesised migraine causes, including hormonal, emotional, physical, dietary, environmental, and pharmaceutical ones. These triggers are pretty personal, yet keeping track of them could help identify a pattern. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether something is a trigger or what you're experiencing is an early warning sign of a migraine attack. 

The following are common triggers based on the below-mentioned factors.

Hormonal changes Some women get migraines around the time of their period, which may be related to fluctuations in hormone levels like oestrogen. These migraines typically start two days before the period begins and may last for three days. Pure menstrual migraine is sometimes referred to as a condition where women only get headaches at this time. However, most women also suffer from them at other times, known as menstrual-related migraines. Menopause might cause headaches for a few women, other may find that their migraines improve after menopause.
Emotional triggers Anxiety, Excitement, Tension, Stress, Shock, Depression
Physical triggers Poor sleeping patterns, Poor posture, Tiredness, Work pressure, Jet lag, Low blood sugar, Exercise
Dietary triggers Dehydration, Excessive intake of caffeine, Chocolates, Citrus fruits, Cured meats, Smoked fish, Yeast extracts, Certain types of cheese
Environmental triggers Bright lights, Extended screen time, Smoking Loud noises, Strong smells, Cold weather
Medication Consuming certain medications like sleeping pills, contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy medication, etc.

Treatment process for migraine

Since migraine discomfort is typically chronic, a full recovery might be challenging. Patients can, however, work with doctors to create strategies for coping with migraine symptoms and treatment options. Your doctor may advise the following treatments.

  • Medication

  • Acupuncture

  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation

How to prevent migraine

There are methods to lower your chance of experiencing a migraine if you know your triggers. Although the precise causes of migraine are still unknown, researchers know that genetics and environment play a role. By reducing the ones you can, you can minimise the amount of migraine that will interfere with your lifestyle. Here are a few tips.

  1. Avoid stress, and use relaxation techniques

  2. Regularly take your medications and vitamins

  3. Avoid loud noises and bright lighting

  4. Avoid foods like red wine, sweets, chocolates, and processed meat

  5. Track alterations in your hormone levels

  6. Keep a diary of the times you get headaches

How to diagnose migraine

Migraines may not occur with prominent symptoms, which makes them unexpected. Sometimes it takes time to arrive at an appropriate diagnosis. Moreover, a precise test is not available to diagnose migraines. Identifying a pattern of recurrent migraine headache symptoms will help a doctor make an accurate diagnosis. If not, you will be advised to see a Neurologist.

Doctors may advise you to undergo the following tests.

  1. CT scan: In this test, a cross-sectional image of the body is created using X-rays and computers. If you have headaches every day or nearly daily, a head CT scan may be advised to rule out other diseases.

  2. MRI: Without using X-rays, this examination creates exceptionally sharp images of the brain. These images are created using a big magnet, radio waves, and a computer. If you experience headaches frequently, an MRI might be advised. It could also be suggested if a CT scan yields inconclusive results. Additionally, an MRI scan is used to examine specific areas of the brain that are difficult to see with CT scans, such as the back of the brain and the spine at the neck level.

  3. Sinus X-ray: Your doctor might order this test if your migraine attack symptoms point to sinus issues.

Migraine risk factors

People can have some modifiable and some non-modifiable risk factors for migraines.  Non-modifiable factors are those over which a person has little or no control. The following are different types of risk factors for migraines.

  1. Overuse of migraine medication

  2. Head injury

  3. Ineffective treatment

  4. Obesity

  5. Depression

Frequently asked questions

The following are some common queries about migraines.

What happens when you have a migraine with an aura?

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When you have a migraine with an aura, you may see wavy lines, dots, flashing lights, or stars. Some people experience blurry vision as well.

How long can a chronic migraine last for?

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The effect of a chronic migraine can last for many months if untreated.

Are migraines curable?

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Migraines are curable in some cases where the patient identifies triggers and takes preventive measures to avoid them. Medical advice from a certified professional can significantly help treat migraines.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet. As this content piece is not vetted by a medical professional, please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/migraines-headaches-migraines

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/migraine/

https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/guide/making-diagnosis-doctors-exam

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