Migraines are severe headaches that are accompanied by some other symptoms such as nausea, sensitivity to light, sound and smell and vomiting. This problem can even run in generations and there are certain links to genetic components. Migraines might affect people from all age group and it may go undiagnosed for young children. The attack of a migraine can last for days and most such attacks tend to last for at least four hours. If a person is suffering from migraine pain for more than three days then he/she should consult a doctor immediately. For more information visit, https://patientmd.com/.
One will have to experience all the four stages if a migraine attack takes place. However, it is even possible to skip one or more phases. Some people might even experience migraine attack without experiencing the ‘a headache’ part which is known as a silent migraine. There are however some debates as to whether a migraine is a neurological disorder or if it is a neurological disease. The pain of migraine attacks is not due to another disorder or disease and so they are classified as primary headaches. The symptoms along with the severity can, however, vary from one person to another.
Types of migraine:
According to the International Headache Society, there are several types of migraine attacks. A migraine with aura and migraine without aura are the most common types of a migraine.
A migraine with aura:
The most common effects of an aura include the following:
- Confusing thoughts and experiences
- Blind spots
- Difficulty in speech
- Unpleasant smells
- Stiff necks, shoulders or limbs
Migraines with aura might affect the vision and the person might even see things that are not present. They might even see some parts of objects and feel that the vision keeps on appearing and disappearing simultaneously. The visual disturbance that a person might experience can be similar to the sensation that comes after being exposed to a bright light.
A migraine without aura:
A menstrual migraine or a hormonal migraine is the commonest migraine without aura. A person might experience an attack without any kind of sensory disturbances. Most of the migraines take place without an aura.
Some other types of migraine also exist such as:
An abdominal migraine: The most common migraine for children is an abdominal migraine in which there are abdominal pain, vomit and nausea.
A hemiplegic migraine: This results in weakness on one side of the body for a temporary time period.
A chronic migraine: This triggers an attack on more than 15 days a month.
A migraine with brainstem aura: A rare type of migraine, this instigates neurological symptoms such as disturbances in speech.
There is another type of migraine known as a retinal migraine. There are however a number of headaches that are not classified as a migraine and these include cluster headaches, sinus headaches and tension-type headaches. Consultation with a doctor is necessary after any type of migraine can be identified. They will guide with a suitable treatment plan.
Triggers of a migraine:
The triggers of a migraine vary from one person to another. The abnormal activities in the brain have an impact on the way the nerves communicate. The most well-known triggers are related to food and drinks that include caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, certain cheeses and citrus fruit. The following triggers set off migraines:
Emotional triggers such as anxiety, stress, shock, depression as well as excitement can trigger a migraine.
Hormonal changes: Women might have an experience of migraine during menstruation because of change in hormone levels.
Physical: A migraine can be due to insufficient sleep along with tiredness, tension in the neck area and poor postures. Some other physical causes such as jet lag and low blood sugar can also trigger migraine pain.
Environment: Strong smells, loud noises, bright light and second-hand smoke can trigger a migraine.
Medications: Medications such as sleeping pills, contraceptive pills and hormone replacement therapy medicines can trigger a migraine.
The symptoms can show up before a headache, during a headache and after a headache. Even though there are different types of a migraine, the typical symptoms include:
- Severe or throbbing pain
- Pain on any one side of the head
- Increase in pain during physical activity
- Lack of ability in performing regular activities
- Increase in sensitivity to bright light and strong sound
- Too much sweat
- Change in body temperature
- Body ache
What is the difference between a migraine and a headache?
There is a difference between a migraine and headache even though some may think of them as the same. Headaches do not occur in a recognizable pattern in a way that a migraine does. A migraine will attack in a moderate to a severe headache on any side of the head along with other symptoms. Migraine attacks might or might not include headaches and there is a different neurological symptom attached to a migraine. In order to identify a migraine headache, it is advisable to keep a diary of symptoms that records the time of onset, triggers, duration and signs and symptoms that lead to a migraine attack. It can also record the medication taken to relieve a headache, any relation to menstruation and the severity of the headaches.
According to the International Headache Society, ‘5, 4, 3, 2, 1′ criteria need to be followed to diagnose a migraine. This criterion stands for:
- 5 or more attacks within 4 hours to 3 days.
- Either of two qualities such as occurrence on any one side of the head, moderate-to-severity in pain, pulsating in nature and direct relation with physical activity.
- At least one of the symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, sensitivity to light or sound.
The doctor might even suggest test so as to exclude any other causes of headaches.
Here are a few natural remedies that can help with migraine attacks.
The application of pressure on certain parts of the body is acupressure. One will have to stimulate certain parts of the body so as to release muscle tension and alleviate pain. One of the most popular points is LI-4 which is the space between the base of the left thumb and pointer finger. When firm pressure is applied to this part then it may release the headache pain. According to a study conducted on 40 people who had a migraine without aura, it has been found that nausea or vomiting associated with a migraine can be reduced with pressure on PC6 acupoint. PC6 acupoint is located on the inside of the arm, 3 fingers from the wrist.
There are certain foods that can trigger a migraine such as alcohol, chocolate, caffeine, wine and processed foods. Keeping a journal or being aware of the triggers is necessary. Migraines can be prevented with such small changes in the diet.
One of the natural remedies is essential oil. It can be inhaled or used as an antimicrobial in the homemade cleaning products. An essential oil such as lavender oil might be used for anxiety, stress and headaches.
A systematic review conducted in 2012 showed that for people suffering from a migraine, acupuncture is an effective method. A licensed practitioner must be consulted in order to obtain treatment.
Yoga can improve the flow of blood while reducing muscle tension thereby providing relief from migraine attacks. According to a comprehensive study, conventional migraine treatment along with yoga showed a better result than without yoga.
Stress is another common trigger for a migraine. Stress creates a cycle wherein it gets worse by the migraine pain that results in another migraine. Some outlets such as a journal, exercise or even meditation are required to prevent future migraines. There are also stress management class and people may also choose to take a warm bath or listen to music to relieve the stress. These positive actions can help a person in controlling the way that their body responds to stress.
There are two herbal supplements that can be used in case of a migraine. These are feverfew and butterbur which can definitely help in decreasing the pain along with the frequency with which it can appear. According to the American Migraine Foundation, when a daily dose of 150 milligrams of butterbur is consumed for 3 months, then the migraine frequency is lowered. Some risk lies with the use of these herbs and therefore one must consult a doctor before consuming it.
A well-known trigger of a migraine is not drinking enough water. Even a minor dehydration can lead to a migraine. In order to avoid dehydration, people must ensure that they are consuming enough water throughout the day. Severe dehydration cases require oral rehydration so as to replace the missing electrolytes. To stay hydrated it is necessary to drink enough water while maintaining a healthy diet.
The severity and frequency of a migraine can be reduced using B vitamins as it helps in regulating the neurotransmitters in the brain. These vitamins are water soluble and so the excess levels are not stored in the system. However, too much vitamin B cannot be consumed as the body excretes vitamin B easily and quickly.
To relieve the tension, alleviate the migraine pain a massage of the muscles in the shoulder and neck area is required. Such a massage can reduce stress and a tennis ball can also be used for conducting a self-massage.
A headache associated with menstrual-migraine specifically appears when there is a deficiency in magnesium. The migraine aura appears which causes a visual disturbance that might not appear for everyone who gets a migraine. According to research, magnesium supplements are useful to reduce the frequency of migraines.
Warm or cold compress:
The use of a warm or cold compress on the head can be soothing and can reduce the pain. It may vary from person to person and comfort can be obtained from either the warm or cold compress. The people who have a circulatory problem or problem of the skin must avoid the use of such extreme temperatures.
Too much sleep of the lack of it can result in migraine pain. It is advisable to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep so as to reduce stress and prevent a migraine.
Even after taking the required precautions, it is necessary to consult a migraine specialist so as to chalk out a plan that is helpful. The effective remedies can only be provided after a proper identification is done for the triggers.