Theories About Migraine Pain
Older theories about migraines suggested that symptoms were possibly due to fluctuations in blood flow to the brain. Now many headache researchers realize that changes in blood flow and blood vessels don’t initiate the pain, but may contribute to it.
Current thinking regarding migraine pain has moved more toward the source of the problem, as improved technology and research have paved the way for a better understanding. Today, it is widely understood that chemical compounds and hormones, such as serotonin and estrogen, often play a role in pain sensitivity for migraine sufferers.
One aspect of migraine pain theory explains that migraine pain happens due to waves of activity by groups of excitable brain cells. These trigger chemicals, such as serotonin, to narrow blood vessels. Serotonin is a chemical necessary for communication between nerve cells. It can cause narrowing of blood vessels throughout the body.
When serotonin or estrogen levels change, the result for some is a migraine. Serotonin levels may affect both sexes, while fluctuating estrogen levels affect women only.
For women, estrogen levels naturally vary over the life cycle, with increases during fertile years and decreases afterwards. Women of childbearing age also experience monthly changes in estrogen levels. Migraines in women are often associated with these fluctuating hormone levels and may explain why women are more likely to have migraines than men.
Can Using Birth Control Pills Make My Migraines Worse
In some women, pills improve migraine. The pills may help reduce the number of attacks and their attacks may become less severe. But in other women, the pills may worsen their migraines. In still other women, taking birth control pills has no effect on their migraines.
The reason for these different responses is not well understood. For women whose migraines get worse when they take birth control pills, their attacks seem to occur during the last week of the cycle. This is because the last seven pills in most monthly pill packs don’t have hormones they are there to keep you in the habit of taking your birth control daily. Without the hormones, your body’s estrogen levels drop sharply. This may trigger migraine in some women.
Talk with your doctor if you think birth control pills are making your migraines worse. Switching to a pill pack in which all the pills for the entire month contain hormones and using that for three months in a row can improve headaches. Lifestyle changes, such as getting on a regular sleep pattern and eating healthy foods, can help too.
When To See A Doctor
If youve been diagnosed with cancer elsewhere in your body and you start to experience strong headaches, tell your doctor. The cancer may have spread to your brain. Be ready to describe all your symptoms in detail. The nature of your headaches will help your physician make a better treatment plan.
If you have no cancer history, see your doctor or a neurologist if a headache lasts for several days or weeks with little or no relief.
A headache that continues to worsen with no response to traditional pain treatment should also be evaluated. Weight loss, muscle numbness, and sensory changes that accompany a headache should be checked promptly, too.
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How Are Migraines Treated In The Er
Many medicines are used to treat severe migraine headache pain in the ER, including those listed on the next page. The ER doctor may also give you other medicines for nausea and may treat you for dehydration .
Medicines for Pain Relief
Researchers found that the medicines listed below work to lessen or stop migraine pain. Nearly all of these medicines are given as a shot or through an intravenous tube in your arm. Some NSAIDs can also be taken by mouth.
|Neuroleptics and antiemetics are medicines that change the way certain chemicals act in your brain. Some of these medicines may also treat nausea and vomiting.|
|Sumatriptan||Sumatriptan is a headache medicine that narrows the blood vessels in your brain.Note: People with heart problems, such as narrowing or hardening of blood vessels in the heart, should not take this medicine.|
|NSAIDs||NSAIDs are medicines that relieve pain.|
|Opioids||Opioids are medicines that relieve pain. But, these medicines are rarely used for migraines because of possible side effects and the fact that other medicines work well to relieve migraine pain.Note: Taking opioids repeatedly to relieve pain can lead to overuse. Opioids can be addictive.|
|Dihydroergotamine||Dihydroergotamine is a headache medicine that narrows the blood vessels in your brain.|
Medicines To Stop the Migraine From Coming Back
The doctor may also give you a medicine to help stop the migraine from coming back within the next day or two.
Ocular Migraine And Visual Migraine Symptoms
Ocular migraine symptoms generally include a small blind spot that affects your central vision in one eye. This blind spot gets larger, making it impossible for you to drive safely or read with the affected eye.
In some cases, the entire visual field of one eye may be affected. Generally, the episode lasts less than an hour.
Visual migraine symptoms can vary, and may include:
Visual migraines often appear suddenly and may create the sensation of looking through a cracked window. The visual migraine aura usually moves across your field of view and disappears within 30 minutes.
A flickering blind spot in the center or near the center of your field of view
A wavy or zigzag ring of colored light surrounding a central blind spot
A blind spot that slowly migrates across your visual field
The symptoms of a visual migraine typically affect both eyes and last less than 30 minutes. A migraine headache may occur shortly after the symptoms of a visual migraine subside or no headache may occur.
If you’re experiencing a blind spot or other visual disturbance and you’re not sure if it’s an ocular migraine or a visual migraine , cover one eye at a time. If the visual disturbance affects just one eye, it’s probably an ocular migraine. If it affects both eyes, it’s likely a visual migraine.
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You Also Have A Stiff Neck Or High Fever
If you have a headache and a fever, you may think its the flu. But add in the telltale symptom of a stiff neck, and you may have meningitis.
The infection, which can be bacterial or viral, affects the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. The swelling of these membranes is what can trigger a headache and stiff neck. You may also have nausea, vomiting or even seizures if you have meningitis. Although meningitis is hard to diagnose because it can mimic other infections, if you have a headache along with these other symptoms, its best to get checked by your doctor.
Symptoms From Lymphoma In The Chest
When lymphoma starts in the thymus or lymph nodes in the chest, it may press on the nearby trachea , which can cause coughing, trouble breathing, or a feeling of chest pain or pressure.
The superior vena cava is the large vein that carries blood from the head and arms back to the heart. It passes near the thymus and lymph nodes inside the chest. Lymphomas in this area may push on the SVC, which can cause the blood to back up in the veins. This can lead to swelling in the head, arms, and upper chest. It can also cause trouble breathing and a change in consciousness if it affects the brain. This is called SVC syndrome. It can be life-threatening and must be treated right away.
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Signs Your Headache Is Actually A Migraine
Once you know the symptoms you can properly treat your pain.
If you think your really bad headaches arent migraines, you may want to take a closer look at your symptomsespecially if youre a woman.
More than half of all migraine sufferers are never diagnosed, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. And according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, migraines are three times more common in women than in men. Crazy, right?
When Should I Seek Help For My Headaches
Sometimes, headache can signal a more serious problem. You should talk to your doctor about your headaches if:
- You have several headaches per month and each lasts for several hours or days
- Your headaches disrupt your home, work, or school life
- You have nausea, vomiting, vision, or other sensory problems
- You have pain around the eye or ear
- You have a severe headache with a stiff neck
- You have a headache with confusion or loss of alertness
- You have a headache with convulsions
- You have a headache after a blow to the head
- You used to be headache-free, but now have headaches a lot
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Who Gets Migraines What Are The Risk Factors
Its difficult to predict who may get a migraine and who may not, but there are risk factors that may make you more vulnerable. These risk factors include:
- Genetics: Up to 80% of people who get migraine headaches have a first-degree relative with the disease.
- Gender. Migraine headaches happen to women more than men, especially women between the ages of 15 and 55. Its likely more common in women because of the influence of hormones.
- Stress level. You may get migraines more often if youre high-stress. Stress can trigger a migraine.
What To Expect After Symptoms Of Aura And Headache
Many migraine headaches gradually fade in intensity. Some people find that taking a 1- to 2-hour nap is enough to relieve their symptoms. Children may only need a few minutes rest to see results. This is known as the resolution phase.
As the headache begins to lift, you may experience the recovery phase. This can include a feeling of exhaustion or even of elation. You may also feel moody, dizzy, confused, or weak.
In many cases, your symptoms during the recovery phase will pair with symptoms you experienced during the warning phase. For example, if you lost your appetite during the warning phase you may now find that youre ravenous.
These symptoms may last for a day or two after your headache.
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Data Shows Benefits Of Having Vaccine
While these blood clots are extremely rare, it is important to know the warning signs.
If your headache is new, severe, isnt alleviated by painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen and gets worse when you lie down or bend forwards, you might need some blood tests.
The same is true if your headache is combined with blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, difficulty speaking, weakness, drowsiness or seizures.
Other symptoms that should be checked are new and unexplained pinprick bruising or bleeding shortness of breath chest pain and leg swelling or constant abdominal pain.
Blood tests can help look for any signs of a potential clot, so if you are worried, dont delay and speak to your doctor as soon as you can.
Remember, these blood clots are very rare.
The current estimate is four in a MILLION.
Whats more, data last week showed your risk of suffering one of these rare clots is actually higher if you catch Covid itself.
Scientists at Oxford University found the risk of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis was eight times higher from Covid infection than from having the AstraZeneca jab.
How To Treat A Migraine Vs How To Treat A Headache
You can treat a headache by:
Drinking water, particularly if you think your headache may be caused by dehydration.
Eating regularly – skipping meals or snacking too much can cause changes in your blood sugar that may trigger headaches.
Relaxing using deep breathing techniques – this can help ease headaches caused by tension or stress.
Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
You can help treat a migraine by:
Turning off the lights and lying down in a quiet area. Migraines can make you more sensitive to light and sounds.
Taking an NSAID medication along with a small caffeinated drink. Caffeine can help the medication work more effectively against migraines.
Taking a triptan drug like sumatriptan or rizatriptan . These are prescribed by your doctor.
Using a cold compress on your head or neck to numb any pain. You can also use a hot compress to relax any tense muscles that can worsen a migraine.
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What Are Migraines
Migraines are severe headaches that typically last for between 4 and 72 hours. Migraine sufferers may experience nausea and vomiting as well as sensitivity to light or sound. They also frequently report throbbing pain that worsens with normal activity.
Migraines are common and usually very painful. There may be ways to prevent them, and there are good treatments for them.
What Is A Headache
There are many different types of headaches, which experts have classified into two main groups primary and secondary.
Primary headaches refer to independent conditions that cause pain in the head, face, or neck. Examples of primary headaches include migraines and tension headaches.
Secondary headaches occur as the result of another medical condition, such as an infection, stress, or medication overuse.
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Whats A Migraine What Does A Migraine Feel Like
A migraine is a common neurological disease that causes a variety of symptoms, most notably a throbbing, pulsing headache on one side of your head. Your migraine will likely get worse with physical activity, lights, sounds or smells. It may last at least four hours or even days. About 12% of Americans have this genetic disorder. Research shows that its the sixth most disabling disease in the world.
Signs And Symptoms Of Non
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can cause many different signs and symptoms, depending on the type of lymphoma and where it is in the body. Sometimes it might not cause any symptoms until it grows quite large.
Having one or more symptoms doesnt mean you definitely have lymphoma. In fact, many of the symptoms listed here are more likely to be caused by other conditions, such as an infection. Still, if you have any of these symptoms, have them checked by a doctor so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
Some common signs and symptoms include:
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Feeling full after only a small amount of food
- Chest pain or pressure
- Shortness of breath or cough
- Severe or frequent infections
Some people with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma have what are known as B symptoms:
- Fever without an infection
- Drenching night sweats
- Weight loss without trying
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Headaches Are Interfering With Your Daily Life
If you have headaches that are landing you in bed all day or otherwise making you unable to perform your normal daily activities, its time to see a doctor. You may be experiencing migraines, or the headaches could be a symptom of another underlying issue such as the ones listed above. Only a doctor can assess the cause, so get help as soon as possible.
Make an appointment with one of our headache specialists at Keck Medicine of USC. If youre in the Los Angeles area, schedule an appointment by calling or by visiting neuro.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment.
Learn More About Each Stage Of A Migraine:
One or two days before a migraine, you might notice subtle changes that warn of an upcoming migraine, including constipation, mood changes from depression to euphoria, food cravings, neck stiffness, increased thirst and urination or frequent yawning.
For some people, aura might occur before or during migraines. Auras are reversible symptoms of the nervous system. They’re usually visual, but they also can include other disturbances. Each symptom usually begins gradually, builds up over several minutes and lasts 20 minutes to one hour.
Examples of auras include:
- Visual phenomena, such as seeing various shapes, bright spots or flashes of light
- Vision loss
- “Pins-and-needles” sensations in an arm or leg
- Weakness or numbness in the face, or one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking
- Uncontrollable jerking or other movements
A migraine usually lasts from four to 72 hours if untreated, and the frequency varies by the person. Migraines might occur rarely or strike several times a month.
During a migraine, you might have:
- Pain, usually on one side of your head, but often on both sides
- Pain that throbs or pulses
- Sensitivity to light, sound, and sometimes smell and touch
- Nausea and vomiting
After a migraine attack, you might feel drained, confused and washed out for up to a day. Some people report feeling elated. Sudden head movement might bring on pain again briefly.
Learn more about headaches:
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How Are Migraines Prevented Or Managed
There are many ways to manage migraines both to prevent an attack and to treat an attack once it starts . It is important to have a migraine management plan and this will probably involve lifestyle changes and medication.
If you suspect you are getting a migraine, you may get some relief from pain-relief medicines. Some people find they can prevent a migraine by treating it early.
Some people can manage migraine with pain relief available from pharmacies others might need prescription medications to deal with an acute attack. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about options.
During the migraine, rest in a quiet, dark room. Get as much help as possible with responsibilities at work, for family and so on.
If you get migraines fairly often, there is a wide range of preventive medicines that can reduce the number and severity of the attacks.
If you have just started getting migraines, keeping a diary about them can help you understand when they happen, and what triggers them. That may help you prevent them, and may also help you to explain what you are experiencing with your doctor.
In the longer term, non-medicine therapies can also help to prevent migraine. These include:
- relaxation training, such as yoga and meditation