For the millions of people in the world who suffer from migraines (myself included) there is absolutely nothing like them. The sensitivity to light, sound, television even just holding your open can be terrible. However to make matters worse new medical studies have linked migraines to other things such as brain tumors and stroke. While the only person who can definitively tell you if you are having a migraine, is your doctor. you may be able to adequately predict your headaches and even treat them if you know a little about them.
What is a migraine?
Often though of as genetic, a migraine is a type of headache that is referred to as a vascular headache. Meaning that it has to do with the vascular system of the body. Migraine headaches are caused by an enlargement of the blood vessels in the brain that cause nerve fibers coiled around them to be stretched and to release certain chemicals. These chemicals cause pain, inflammation, and further enlargement of the arteries. As the arteries continue to dilate the stretching of the nerves is enhances causing the pain to become shaper and more severe.
Migraines often effect the sympathetic nervous system of the body. This is the system that controls the responses to the fight or flight syndrome, stress and pain. It is the effects of the migraine on this system that causes many of the symptoms of that migraine sufferers face. Migraine attacks are often chronic and last between 4 to 72 hours and effect more women then men.
What are migraine symptoms?
Because of the nature of the headaches, migraines are often classified as chronic attacks. Unfortunately though, migraines are under diagnosed and many doctors fail to recognize them. It is for this reason that you become familiar with migraine symptoms, so that you may alert and report them to you doctor.
The symptoms of a migraine include but are not limited too:
- Intense and throbbing pain that can involve either one or both temples in the brain and is associated with pain in the forehead, sides of the head or temples, around the eyes, in the back of the head and neck, or in the back.
- migraines are usually aggravated by daily activities and it is for this reason most suffers prefer to lay in a quite, dark and cool room during the attack.
- Sufferers may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sensitivity to light, sounds, flushes or pale face, or cold hands and feet.
- An aura during an attack. Occurring in about 20% of migraine suffers, the aura may appear as a brightly colored flashing light that moves in a zigzag pattern and away from the line of vision or as a blind spot in the visual field.
There are also pre-migraine symptoms that often warn a suffer that he or she is about to have an attack. These include but are not limited too:
- Sleepiness, fatigue and excessive yawning
- depression or euphoria
- craving for sweet or salty foods.
Although migraines can be a real hurdle to daily activities they can be treated. Treats range from at home remedies such a neck rub, ice packs, relaxation exercises and a hot sower. However, medicinal treatments are more common. These include over the counter medications such as Tylenol or Excedrin (my over-the counter medicine of choice). They can also be treated with prescription medicines such as Imitrex and Midrin. The medicinal treatment that you use should be evaluated by a doctor especially for those who suffer from severe migraines. There are many differing kinds of medicinal treats that your doctor should be able to discuss with you.
In conclusion, if you are having frequent debilitating headaches and you meet any of the symptoms above you should really see a doctor to be put on a treatment plan. Migraines can and will effect daily life and activities and its important that you find what triggers yours and the best method of treatment is for your body.