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What are Migraine Headaches? Understanding Types, Treatment and Prevention

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

People often say that they are in a good ‘headspace’ when things are going well. However, headaches can cause severe turbulence in this headspace. Even seemingly simple tasks can come across as daunting for people facing such problems, especially those suffering from a migraine headache. A straightforward day can turn into a nightmare if your head is continuously paining. People describe it as a migraine. They tend to use the term Migraine Headache (MH) loosely. Not all headaches are MH. Read ahead to know more about MH, its causes, symptoms, and prevention measures.




What is a Migraine Headache?

Migraine headaches are headaches that occur due to physiologic changes in the brain. These changes cause severe pain in the head. A person going through a MH might also be sensitive to light, sound, and smell. The condition also causes nausea and vomiting.

MH can lead to pain in one or both sides of the head. People describe the pain during MH as throbbing. There are different types of headaches apart from MH such as Cluster Headaches or Tension Headaches. There are sub-categories of headaches within MH as well.

What are Migraine Symptoms?

People can experience multiple migraine symptoms at once. Mentioned below is a list of common symptoms of MH.

  • Throbbing pain

  • Enhanced pain during physical activity

  • Light sensitivity

  • Noise sensitivity

  • Smell sensitivity

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Upset stomach

  • Pain in the stomach

  • Loss of appetite

  • Feeling too warm

  • Feeling too cold

  • Pale skin

  • Experiencing fatigue

  • Blurry vision

  • Dizziness

Treatment for Migraine Headaches:

It is best to consult a doctor if you are experiencing MH and follow the medical advice. Listed below are some migraine treatments.

1) OTC Medication:

Some people rely on over-the-counter (OTC) medicine for migraine relief. It is suggested to visit a doctor if you have taken OTC medication for two days and the pain has not reduced.

2) Nausea Medication:

This type of treatment is suggested by doctors if you experience nausea along with MH.

3) Preventive Medication:

Preventive medication for MH includes antidepressants, medication for blood pressure and medication for seizure.

4) Biofeedback Technique:

Biofeedback is a technique that can help you manipulate some of your body’s functions by using visual or auditory feedback. The Biofeedback Technique can stop the headache from escalating.

5) Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS):

This prevention technique relies on magnetic energy to stop or minimize the intensity of your headache.

Different Types of Migraines and Headaches:

People suffer from different types of migraines. The intensity of the pain and the treatment differs from one type to the other. Here’s a list of MH.

1) Migraine With Aura:

In this context, an aura can be explained as sensory and visual changes experienced by the person going through MH. This is also termed as Complicated Migraine. One-fourth of people suffering from MH deal with this type.

2) Migraine Without Aura:

As the name suggests, this type of MH is not accompanied by an aura. They are referred to as Common Migraine. This type of MH does not come with warning phases.

3) Chronic Migraine:

Such headaches occur for more than fifteen days in a month. Such MH can occur because of overusing medication. People suffering from a Chronic Migraine face severe headache and have another type of chronic pain.

4) Acute Migraine:

Acute Migraine is also known as Episodic Migraine. Headaches that are not described as Chronic are termed as Acute. They occur for less than two weeks in thirty days.

5) Vestibular Migraine:

This type of migraine is associated with vertigo. Symptoms of Vestibular Migraine include losing balance and experiencing dizziness. These MH can be triggered by specific food items. Making dietary changes can prove helpful in mitigating the effects of this headache.

6) Optical Migraine:

Also known as Eye Migraine, the Optical Migraine affects one eye. However, the symptoms can be severe such as light flashes, blind spot, and lack of vision. They are a lesser-known kind of Migraine With Aura.

7) Complex Migraine:

This is a generic terminology used to describe a MH. It is not an accurate way of stating the difficulty faced and you should visit a medical professional for proper diagnosis of your MH.

8) Menstrual Migraine:

Menstrual Migraine can occur at the beginning, during, or at the end of menstruation. It can also occur during ovulation. Such MH causes nausea. Medications related to Serotonin and Hormonal treatments can be effective against this type.

9) Acephalgic Migraine:

Such migraines occur without a headache. They occur with aura. Therefore, in case of an Acephalgic Migraine, a person may experience aura but no headache. The symptoms include speech issues, numbness, and weakness.

10) Hormonal Migraines:

Such migraines are associated with the hormone Oestrogen. Females can experience Hormonal Migraines during periods, ovulation, pregnancy, and perimenopause. It can also occur in case of consumption of a birth control pill.

11) Stress Migraines:

This is not a technical term for a migraine but a term used for headaches caused because of stress. Such headaches are triggered because of excess stress and tension.

12) Cluster Migraine:

Technically, not a migraine but such headaches can cause a lot of pain. Cluster Migraine causes eye pain and nasal congestion. Such issues can be triggered by alcohol and smoking.

13) Vascular Migraine:

Again, not a type of migraine as per The International Headache Society. Headaches are termed as Vascular Migraines when there is a throbbing pain and pulsation because of a migraine.

14) Migraines in Children:

Children can have Abdominal Migraine instead of a headache. They can experience pain in their stomach. Toddlers can experience Benign Paroxysmal Vertigo and school-going children can face Cyclic Vomiting, which means vomiting up to five times in sixty minutes.

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What Causes Migraines?

There isn’t a definitive cause which leads to a migraine. There can be several reasons for a migraine. Some known factors can have an impact on causing one. One such factor is the change in Serotonin levels. Here’s a list of some of the factors that can cause a migraine.

  • Exposure to lights that are bright

  • Extreme weather conditions

  • Lack of hydration

  • Fluctuations in barometric pressure

  • Hormonal changes

  • Stress

  • High-intensity sound

  • Demanding physical activity

  • Missing meals

  • Modification in the sleep cycle

  • Unusual smell

  • Medication

How to Prevent Migraine Headaches:

In the case of migraines, medical professionals often ask patients about their day or the week regarding what they ate or the activities they experienced. Journaling such instances can clarify migraine triggers.

Once the triggers are known, adequate care can be taken to prevent the headache. Also, different types of migraines might require different solutions. Reduction in stress, eating and sleeping right, avoiding excess smoking and drinking can reduce triggers. Doctors might also suggest some migraine preventive medications.

Also, read: Preventive Health Check up

Home Remedies for Migraine:

Here’s a list of home remedies for migraine.  

  •  Apply lavender oil

  •  Acupressure techniques

  •  Apply peppermint oil

  •  Have ginger

  •  Perform Yoga

  •  Eat magnesium-rich food

  •  Apply slight pressure on temples

  •  Rest in a room with dim or no light and less noise

Migraines During Pregnancy:

Migraines during Pregnancy need to be handled with great care as it can harm the mother and the child. Seek professional help immediately in case of migraines during pregnancy. Hormonal shifts during pregnancy can either lessen or worsen the effects of a migraine.

One needs to pay special attention to ascertain the migraine triggers during pregnancy. Certain types of medication might be harmful during pregnancy, therefore extra care must be taken to take proper medication.

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How to Avoid A Migraine Before It Happens:

The best way to avoid a migraine is to understand what triggers it and stay away from it. Seek professional help if Migraine Headache symptoms intensify. Here are some ways to avoid a migraine before it happens.

  1. Stay away from bright lighting.

  2. Don’t expose yourself to loud noises.

  3. Watch what you eat and avoid food items that trigger headaches for you.

  4. Maintain a headache journal and avoid triggers.

  5. Don’t take stress.

  6. Maintain a proper sleep cycle.

  7. Eat a balanced diet.

  8. Choose less-strenuous physical exercises.

  9. Watch your medication.

  10. Be alert with respect to hormonal changes.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Here are some frequently asked questions about migraine headaches.

Can change in weather conditions cause a MH?


Yes, changes in weather conditions can act as a trigger for MH.

Is it possible for MH to be hereditary?


MH can be hereditary. That chances are more if both parents suffer from MH.

Is diarrhoea a symptom of MH?


Yes, diarrhoea can be a symptom of MH.

How to prevent migraine headache?


The crucial aspect of preventing a MH is to detect the triggers at an early stage and stay away from them.

Can the flu trigger MH?


Yes, it is possible that the flu can trigger a MH.

Is migraine a neurological condition?


Yes, migraine can be termed as a neurological condition.

Is massaging the scalp helpful in reducing MH pain?


Yes, it is possible that massaging the scalp can reduce MH pain. However, the results might vary depending on the type and intensity of the headache along with the person’s medical history.

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Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on industry experience and several secondary sources on the internet; and is subject to changes. Please go through the applicable policy wordings for updated ACKO-centric content and before making any insurance-related decisions.


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