Thursday, June 16, 2022
HomeFactsCan Migraines Go Away For Years And Come Back

Can Migraines Go Away For Years And Come Back

Living With Chronic Headache: A Personal Migraine Story

Picture Your Life Without Migraine

ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

As I write this, a dull headache presses into the space above my left eye. The same headache visited me yesterday, and the day before that. In fact, for most of the last year, Ive had a headache every day, all day. Though its now manageable I can write with it, after all for the previous 12 months, my headaches took over my life. They were all I thought about. They became who I was.

On the good days, the pain was just a mild throbbing sensation. Other times, there was a general sense of an ever-tightening pressure. On the days when I couldnt get out of bed, it felt like someone was tightening screws into the sides of my head and pounding a hammer above my left eye. The pain never went away, unless I was asleep. So I slept a lot, as much as my body would let me.

Ive always gotten more headaches than the average person the mild, treat-with-an-over-the counter-pain-medication-and-theyll-go-away type. But following a drawn-out viral infection that left me sneezing and feeling run-down for weeks, I started to get headaches every day, and they were more painful than usual.

Why Does It Get Worse

The main reason for worsening migraine during menopause is the fluctuation of estrogen. This is also responsible for initial worsening of migraine at puberty, as it can take a few years for the hormones to reach the settled pattern of the menstrual cycle. From late teens to mid 30s, most women have a regular pattern of menstrual cycle hormones. For some women, the natural drop in estrogen that occurs around menstruation and during the pill-free week of oral contraception, can trigger. Others find that heavy, painful periods are linked to migraine. From early 40s, the menstrual cycle can become more erratic, with much more variable fluctuation in estrogen levels. Periods themselves can be more troublesome, with more pain and heavier bleeding. All these factors can make migraine more likely. As periods lessen, so the hormonal trigger for migraine lessens, which is why many women find migraine improves after the menopause.

There Are Others Risk Factors For Migraine

Individuals who serve in the military and professional athletes who both sustain head injuries as well as those with comorbid conditions are among those who have a greater likelihood of being diagnosed with migraine during this stage of life as well this is a direct result of their line of work or existing health issues.

Recommended Reading: Propranolol Causing Headaches

Causes Of Acute Headaches

  • Viral Illnesses. Most acute headaches are part of a viral illness. Flu is a common example. These headaches may relate to the level of fever. Most often, they last a few days.
  • Hunger Headaches. About 30% of people get a headache when they are hungry. It goes away within 30 minutes of eating something.
  • MSG Headache. MSG is a flavor enhancer sometimes added to soups or other foods. In larger amounts, it can cause the sudden onset of a throbbing headache. Flushing of the face also occurs.
  • Common Harmless Causes. Hard exercise, bright sunlight, blowing a wind instrument or gum chewing have been reported. So has severe coughing. “Ice cream headaches” are triggered by any icy food or drink. The worse pain is between the eyes .
  • Head Injury. Most just cause a scalp injury. This leads to a painful spot on the scalp for a few days. Severe, deeper or entire-head pain needs to be seen.
  • Frontal Sinus Infection. Can cause a headache on the forehead just above the eyebrow. Other symptoms are nasal congestion and postnasal drip. Rare before 10 years old. Reason: the frontal sinus is not yet formed. Other sinus infections cause face pain, not headaches.
  • Meningitis . A bacterial infection of the membrane that covers the spinal cord and brain. The main symptoms are a stiff neck, headache, confusion and fever. Younger children are lethargic or so irritable that they can’t be consoled. If not treated early, child can suffer brain damage.

So What Exactly Are Migraines And Why Do People Get Them

Symptoms of Brain Aneurysm: How to find Aneurysm in early days

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a migraine is a brain disease that causes various uncomfortable symptoms that can last anywhere from four hours up to three days.

While the exact cause of migraine headaches is unknown, the Migraine Research Foundation says that both genes and environmental factors likely play a role. We also know that the symptoms are brought on by a change in chemical activity that impacts both the central and peripheral nervous systems, explains Jessica Ailani, M.D., director of the MedStar Georgetown Headache Center in Washington D.C.

Read Also: Popular Migraine Medications

Are Migraines A Health Risk

People with migraine may be at higher risk for other medical conditions. For example, people who have migraines may be twice as likely to have a stroke at some point in their life. This may be especially true in people who have migraine with aura. The risk of stroke may also be higher for women, smokers, and people who take hormonal birth control pills.

People with migraines are also more likely to have other health conditions. These include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure , and high blood fats . In addition, 60% of people with migraine with aura may have a patent foramen ovale . These conditions may all increase the risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

Some people with migraines also frequently use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like Advil or Aleve. Using non-aspirin NSAIDs for a long time may also increase the risk of stroke or heart attack.

There are also questions about whether there is a connection between aura and seizures. In the past, some scientists have said that aura could potentially cause a seizure. This used to be called migralepsy. However, there doesnt seem to be any clear evidence that aura can cause a seizure. It is more likely that some seizure disorders could have headaches as a symptom.

Finally, people with migraine with aura may be at risk for depression, anxiety, and suicide. In one large study, women with aura were more likely to have depression and/or anxiety when compared with women without aura.

What Symptoms Must You Have To Be Diagnosed With A Migraine

Migraine with aura . This is a headache, plus:

  • Visual symptoms or vision loss.
  • Sensory symptoms .

Migraine without aura . A common migraine is a headache and:

  • The attacks included pain on one side of your head.
  • Youve had at least five attacks, each lasting between four and 72 hours.

Plus, youve experienced at least one of the following:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting.
  • Lights bother you and/or you avoid light.
  • Sounds bother you and/or you avoid sounds.

Also Check: Metoclopramide Migraine

What Can Cause A Migraine

Doctors are not sure what exactly causes migraines. But, many things can trigger a migraine. Different people have different triggers, which can include:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Changes in hormones
  • Bright lights, loud sounds, and strong smells
  • Smoking
  • Certain foods, such as chocolate, cheese, salty foods, or processed foods
  • Food additives such as MSG or aspartame
  • Not getting enough to eat
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Some medicines

How Prevalent Are Migraines

Biden administration wants Afghanistan crisis to âgo awayâ

Migraines are about three times more common in women than men, and may affect more than 12 percent of the U.S. adult population. Migraines often run in families, and can start as early as elementary school but most often in early adulthood. They often fade away later in life, but can strike at any time. The most common cause of recurring, disabling headache pain, migraines are also the most common underlying cause of disabling chronic, daily headache pain. While migraines are the No. 1 reason that patients see a neurologist, most cases are handled by primary care physicians.

Things that can make the headaches more likely to occur include:

  • Alcohol

You May Like: Over The Counter Migraine Medications List

What Causes Migraine Headaches

No one fully understands the exact cause of migraine headaches. Many experts think that a migraine begins with abnormal brainstem activity that leads to spasm of blood vessels in the cerebrum and dura . The first wave of spasm decreases blood supply, which causes the aura that some people experience. After the first spasm, the same arteries become abnormally relaxed, which increases blood flow and gives rise to migraine headache pain.

Certain chemicals normally found in the brain may be involved in causing migraines. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters because they transmit signals within the brain. Neurotransmitters can cause blood vessels to act in unusual ways if they are present in abnormal amounts or if the blood vessels are particularly sensitive to them.

Various triggers are thought to bring about migraine in people who have a natural tendency for having migraine headaches. Different people may have different triggers.

  • Certain foods, especially chocolate, cheese, nuts, alcohol, and monosodium glutamate can trigger migraines.
  • Missing a meal may bring on a headache.
  • Stress and tension are also risk factors. People often have migraines during times of increased emotional or physical stress.
  • Birth control pills are a common trigger. Women may have migraines at the end of the pill cycle as the estrogen component of the pill is stopped. This is called an estrogen-withdrawal headache.

Treatment Of Adult Migraines

Migraine treatment depends on several factors and treatment plans may be individualized. Some of the treatments of migraines in adults include things like over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers, medications to dilate blood vessels and block pain, caffeine combination drugs and medications to treat symptoms of nausea and pain.

One of the more exciting developments in headache medicine concerns new CGRP drugs that are designed specifically for migraine prevention. Prominent headache specialists like Dr. Amaal Starling have labeled it a “new era” for patient treatment. Aimovig is the first of these medications to hit the market and be approved by the FDA early results have been promising, but there are still questions about long-term effectiveness and possible side effects. But still, patients have reason to be optimistic.

Some may find relief in alternative therapies, such as:

  • Relaxation techniques

References:

1Bigal ME, Liberman JN, Lipton RB. Age-dependent prevalence and clinical features of migraine. Neurology. 2006 Jul 25 67:246-51.

2Carod-Artal FJ. Tackling chronic migraine: current perspectives. Journal of Pain Research. 2014 7:185-194. doi:10.2147/JPR.S61819.

3Kelman L. Migraine changes with age: IMPACT on migraine classification. Headache. 2006 Jul-Aug 46:1161-71.

4Stewart WF1, Bigal ME, Kolodner K, Dowson A, Liberman JN, Lipton RB. Familial risk of migraine: variation by proband age at onset and headache severity. Neurology. 2006 Feb 14 66:344-8.

You May Like: Daith Piercing Relieves Migraines

What Is A Migraine

A migraine is not simply a bad headache. A migraine is an intense headache that may be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea , vomiting , visual problems and an increased sensitivity to light or sound.

Migraines commonly last between four hours and three days. Some people experience migraines several times a week. Others might only experience attacks every few years. If you experience headaches on 15 days or more each month, and eight of these headaches are migraines, this is known as chronic migraine.

Although migraines are not life-threatening and do not shorten peoples life expectancies, they can significantly damage the quality of peoples lives. A World Health Organisation study identified migraine as the sixth highest cause worldwide of years lost due to disability . Repeated migraines can have a negative impact on family life, social life and employment.

There are two main types of migraine: migraine without aura and migraine with aura .

Women Are Increasingly More Likely To Be Diagnosed

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you ...

As noted in our exploration of childhood migraine, women start to supercede men in migraine-related diagnoses starting as teenagers, and this gap continues to widen as patients get older. In fact, of those adults with migraine, nearly 85% are women. Hormones are thought to be one of the main contributing factors to the onset of migraine in adult-aged women, although it is one of many potential causes.

Don’t Miss: Do Migraines Ever Go Away

What Will This Summary Cover

This summary will cover:

  • Medicines to treat severe migraines in the ER
  • What researchers have found about how well the medicines work
  • Possible side effects of the medicines
  • Things to talk about with the ER doctor

Note: This summary does not cover what researchers found about treating migraines at home or ways to prevent migraines. It only covers what researchers found about treating migraines in the ER.

Headaches Related To Stress Or Mood Disorders

Work to reduce stress and promote relaxation in your environment. Self-massage or massage therapy may help ease the tension that causes ongoing headaches. You may also benefit from reducing stimuli and resting in a dark, quiet room.

Your doctor can help you address your stress, anxiety, or mood disorder through a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medication.

Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications that can help relieve the tension and stress causing your prolonged headaches. Some medications for anxiety also work to reduce headache.

Also Check: Narcotics For Headaches

How Are Migraines Treated

Migraines that are severe, frequent or accompanied by neurological symptoms are best treated preventively, usually with a combination of dietary modification, lifestyle changes, vitamins and daily prescription medications. Most of our best preventive medications are often used for other medical purposes as well the majority are blood pressure drugs, antidepressants or epilepsy medications. Individual headache attacks are best treated early, often with one or more of the following types of medications: triptans, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , anti-emetics , and sometimes narcotics or steroids.

Migraines typically last a few hours to a couple of days and respond well to specific treatments. However, in some patients, the migraine is particularly severe and long-lasting and may even become chronic, occurring continuously for weeks, months or even years. If improperly managed or left untreated, intermittent migraines may essentially transform into a chronic daily headache, with continuous and smoldering symptoms that periodically erupt into a “full-blown” migraine. This condition is extremely difficult to treat.

At the Johns Hopkins Headache Center, located at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical center, we have expert physical therapists, nutritionists and psychologists who work closely with our neurologists to help manage patients with frequent migraines. Biofeedback and relaxation techniques are available to complement our standard medical treatments.

What Are Cluster Headache Symptoms

Woman with “unfixable” jaw who’s had 96 surgeries sobs, can’t speak when given Secret Santa gift

Cluster headaches tend to have very recognizable symptoms. When symptoms set in, it usually only takes 5 to 10 minutes for them to reach their worst. Common symptoms include one sided head pain and other symptoms involving the eye, nose and skin on the same side as the pain.

Pain from cluster headaches

Pain from cluster headaches has a few notable features:

  • Often described as a burning or piercing feeling.
  • Lasts 15 minutes to 3 hours at a time.
  • Typically felt on the same side of the head in the current cycle rarely may switch in the future.
  • Always centered behind one eye but can spread over the affected sides forehead, temple, nose and gums.
  • Can make you feel like you cant sit still and need to pace, unlike the relief lying down provides for migraines.

Other cluster headache symptoms

Cluster headaches may also cause:

  • Congestion: Your nose may run or become stuffy only on the side of the headache
  • Eye problems: You may experience a drooping eyelid, eye pain or a watering eye. Your pupil may also look smaller. These symptoms appear on the same side of the head as headache pain.
  • Face changes: You may start sweating and your face may become flushed on the side of the headache.

You May Like: How Long Does Sumatriptan Last

Could My Migraine Attack Be A Symptom Of Covid

We are still learning about migraine and COVID-19, says Spears. We do know that the COVID-19 headache usually presents differently than a typical headache. Its been described as intense pressure in the head that is made significantly worse with coughing and sneezing, he says.

Is it true that people with migraine are more likely to experience headache as a symptom of COVID-19? There isnt enough data to know if thats the case with COVID-19, but it is true in many other conditions, says Spears.

If someone has migraine and they develop a sinus infection, theyre more likely to develop a migraine-like headache. When people with migraine have anything going on thats head- or neck-related, theyre more likely to experience a migraine-like headache, he says.

This also applies in people with migraine who also have diabetes or high blood pressure, says Spears. If something is going on in the entire body or systemically, theyre more likely to manifest that in migraine-like headache if they have a history of migraine, he says.

Related: A Guide to Living With Migraine During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Phases Of A Migraine Attack

Often a migraine attack involves distinct phases, though people can experience them differently, says Roderick Spears, MD, a neurologist and headache specialist at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia.

Prodrome Phase This first phase of migraine can occur hours to days prior to the attack, says Dr. Spears. It typically involves a change in mood and energy certain cravings or excessive yawning can be a sign of prodrome, he says.

People sometimes confuse these prodrome, or premonitory, symptoms, with migraine triggers. Thats to say, a person who craves chocolate as a prodrome symptom may mistakenly believe that consuming chocolate triggered the migraine attack, according to MigraineAgain.

Aura About 25 to 35 percent of people with migraine have aura, says Spears. The most common aura is a visual change with a kaleidoscope-like phenomenon that can last anywhere from five minutes to an hour but usually much less than an hour, he says. Other aura symptoms may include tingling sensations, numbness, garbled speech, and clumsiness or weakness.

Headache Phase This stage can last 4 to 72 hours, and in most patients, its marked by a headache on one side of the head thats throbbing and pulsating in quality. Typically, the pain is described as moderate to severe, says Spears.

The headache phase is also associated with becoming sensitive to the environment, he adds. Light, sound, and odor sensitivity are common, as are nausea and vomiting, he says.

Recommended Reading: Non Drowsy Headache Medicine

RELATED ARTICLES

Popular Articles