A little more than half of all Americans that suffer from chronic headaches are actually suffering from Migraines. A Migraine Headache is a severe pain felt on either one or both sides of the head. The location of the pain is usually in the front of the head around the temples or behind one eye or ear. In addition to the pain, a Migraine sufferer may experience nausea and vomiting, and be very sensitive to light and sound. Migraine Headaches can occur any time of the day; however, in most cases Migraines starts during the morning hours of the day. The pain form a Migraine can last a few hours or even up to one or two days. Consider the following common characteristics of people who suffer from Migraines:
- Many migraine sufferers inherent the condition from family
- Most often, migraine headaches affect people between the ages of 15 and 55
- Migraines often become less severe and frequent with age.
- Migraines are more common in women than men.
Many medical professionals have theorized that one potential cause of Migraines is either contracted or expanded blood vessels in the brain. This condition causes blood to flow irregularly through the brain. There are distinct symptoms that can arise from either blood vessel condition. Narrowing can constrict blood flow and cause problems with sight and even dizziness. Expanding blood vessels tend to press on nerves nearby causing pain. Contraction and expansion of brain blood vessels is controlled in part by chemicals in the brain that send messages (i.e. messages for blood vessels to get narrow or to expand) from one cell to another.
Presently, genes have been linked to Migraine Headaches. An inherited abnormal gene in some cases will not control the function of certain brain cells as it should. In these cases, an irritant or something sensitive to the body will in some way trigger the Migraine Headaches to occur.
Headache triggers can vary from person to person. Most Migraines are not caused by a single factor or event. The response to triggers can also vary from headache to headache. Consider the following causes of Migraines:
- bright light or loud noise
- lack of food or sleep
- weather changes
- some foods and food additives, such as MSG or nitrates
- hormone changes during the menstrual cycle
- stress and anxiety
- chocolate, alcohol, or nicotine
Talk with a doctor/medical professional about what causes your headaches in order to find the right treatment for you!
There are many forms of Migraine Headaches. The two forms seen most often are Classic Migraines ( Migraine with Aura ) and CommonMigraines ( Migraine without Aura ). Consider the following Migraine forms:
- Classic Migraine - is characterized by a neurological phenomenon (aura) that is experienced 10 to 30 minutes before the headache. Most auras are visual and are described as bright shimmering lights around objects or at the edges of the field of vision (called scintillating scotomas) or zigzag lines, wavy images, or hallucinations. Others experience temporary vision loss.
- CommonMigraines - is the most prevalent type and may occur on one or both sides (bilateral) of the head. Tiredness or mood changes may be experienced the day before the headache. Nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light (photophobia) often accompany migraine without aura.
- Basilar Artery Migraine - involves a disturbance of the basilar artery in the brainstem.
- Carotidynia - also called lower-half headache or facial migraine, produces deep, dull, aching, and sometimes piercing pain in the jaw or neck.
- Headache-Free Migraine - is characterized by the presence of aura without headache.
- Ophthalmoplegic Migraine - begins with a headache felt in the eye and is accompanied by vomiting.
- Status Migraine - is a rare type involving intense pain that usually lasts longer than 72 hours.
Consider the following treatment options:
- Lifestyle Changes – Find and avoid things that cause headaches to occur (i.e. diet, stress, quit smoking, quit drinking, better rest, etc.)
- Medicine – Prevent the attacks and or relieve the symptoms with prescription migraine relief or over-the-counter ( OTC ) migraine relief (i.e. asprin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, ergotamines, triptans, Relpax, etc.)
- Alternative Methods - Biofeedback is used to help people with Migraine. Other methods, such as acupuncture, relaxation,andcounseling, may help relieve stress.
Even though migraines have no cure, work closely with your doctor to arrive at a treatment plan that meets your needs. Make sure your plan has ways to treat the headache symptoms when they occur and reduce the frequency and or severity.
Many times Migraine Headaches are confused for Tension Headaches. Tension Headaches are more common than Migraines. Tension Headaches cause a more steady pain over the entire head rather than throbbing pain in one spot. TensionHeadaches can occur as often as every day. In most instances, Tension Headaches are brought on by fatigue and stress.