What Are Period Migraines
First things first: You may get torturous headaches during your period, but that doesnt mean they are migraines. Dr. Holly L. Phillips, an internist who practices in New York City, says that more than 90 percent of headaches fall into the category of tension-type headaches. Far fewer people actually experience true migraines. Statistics published in Cephalalgia state that 11 percent of people worldwide get migraines, while tension-type headaches are far more common. Theres also a socio-economic link to your risk for any type of migraine, with people from lower-income households experiencing migraines at higher rates, likely due to more stressors that can trigger them.
There seems to be some confusion about what migraines really are and it often involves the level of pain. We tend to think of migraine as causing more severe pain than other types of headaches, but thats not always the case, says Phillips.
You can spot the difference between a menstrual migraine and a premenstrual syndrome headache by taking careful note of your symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, migraine headaches typically last anywhere from four hours to three days. Migraines are characterized by throbbing pain, usually on one side of your head, in addition to other symptoms. You may also have severe nausea that can cause vomiting.
- Sensitivity to light, sound, and smells
- Disturbances in your field of vision, known as migraine aura
- Dizziness and exhaustion, even after the pain subsides
Impact Of Migraines And Headaches On Elderly Patients
Most of the information surrounding how migraine impacts people over the age of 65 years centers around comorbid conditions that they may face. And the research is often mixed migraine may increase stroke potential and emotional disorders like depression, but it is not associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease. There is also no clear evidence that migraine enhances cognitive decline in elderly migraine patients, nor does it predict the onset of degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimers.11-13 Regardless, if a patient has been diagnosed with other conditions, it influences treatment and outcomes and therefore must be considered.
Risk Factors For Migraines Or Cluster Headaches
Risk factors vary depending on if it is a cluster headache or migraine.
Migraine risk factors
- Age migraines seem to start in adolescence and peak in a persons 30s
- Gender women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines
- Family history if a family member suffers from migraines, you are also at higher risk of developing them
- Hormonal changes some women experience migraines right before menstruation when hormone levels are high
Cluster headache risk factors
- Gender men are more likely to suffer from cluster headaches
- Age most people develop cluster headaches between 20 and 50 years old
- Smoking if you are a smoker, you are more likely to suffer from cluster headaches
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Migraines Stage Two: Aura
Symptoms in this migraine stage usually occur within the hour before the headache occurs. Most symptoms of aura are visual, and this is the stage where will answer our title question: Can migraines cause double vision? Here are some of the symptoms of migraine with aura.
- Uncontrolled movements
- Speech problems
- Numbness or weakness in the face and the limbs
- Vision loss Fortunately, vision loss associated with migraines is temporary and usually resolves within an hour
- Visual disturbances including seeing flashes of light, floaters of different shapes and sizes, and yes, blurred or double vision
Why Neck Pain Is Such A Common Symptom
Researchers have not addressed one of the most common problems regarding migraines. Up to 75% of patients experience neck pain either before or during the attack . What are some possible reasons for the link between neck pain and migraines? Consider the following effects that could occur if your neck pain is due to a misalignment of the atlas .
- Inhibited brainstem function The atlas surrounds and protects the sensitive area where the brainstem meets the spinal cord. Even the slightest misalignment can put pressure on this crucial component of the central nervous system .
- Reduced blood flow to the brain The cervical spine is responsible for helping blood reach the brain. Each of the vertebrae in the neck has two loops of bone called the vertebral foramen. This is the passageway that the arteries use to reach the head. However, a misalignment in the neck can affect this free flow of blood and, thus, CNS function.
- Diminished cerebrospinal fluid drainage A misalignment in the upper cervical spine can prevent cerebrospinal fluid from draining properly. As a result, this vital fluid may pool in the head and increase intracranial pressure. This pressure can, in turn, cause significant neurological disturbances.
Because of this clear connection between neck problems and CNS function, it makes sense to have the upper cervical spine examined if you are suffering from migraines. An upper cervical specific chiropractor may be just who you need to help you find natural relief.
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Alcohol Can Also Trigger Migraines
Drinking alcohol is a common trigger of headaches in both genders, but a higher prevalence of alcohol in the average man’s lifestyle means it correlates more with the increased incidence of migraines in men.
Interestingly, while changing weather patterns are a leading trigger of female migraines, this is 50 percent less likely to affect men.
Migraine Remedies That Work For Me
So, lets get into whats working. Again, I realize these may not work for everyone and some people would rather not dabble in prescriptions, but, for me, these have allowed me to finally live without wondering if Im going to wake up with a migraine tomorrow.
In the past three months since I started giving myself* monthly Aimovig injections, I havent had a single migraine. Not a single one. And I can count the number of headaches Ive gotten on my hands. Plus, when Ive gotten those few and far between headaches, one dose of regular Tylenol knocks them out.
*Okay, okay, Im not giving myself the injection. Adam has to do it because Im terrified of needles. It doesnt get any easier from month to month.
Ive tried many a prescription pill to take at the onset of migraines and this is the first one that consistently works. No, dont tell me to try Imitrex I did, for years, and it did not work. I was having 3-5 migraine days a week and taking a pill each time I got one. What I didnt know, until I saw a neurologist, was that I wasnt fully getting rid of the migraines and was actually making them worse the headache might go away when I first took a pill, but the pain that returned the next day was a rebound migraine. Now, I just have a prescription for Eletriptan, which actually works for me, and Ive only taken it once since starting the Aimovig .
DAILY MAGNESIUM SUPPLEMENTS
How Common Are Migraines
They can start in childhood, although they usually begin in adolescence or young adulthood. They strike nearly one in five women worldwide, one in 16 men and one in 11 children. One out of four households has at least one member with migraine. The condition seems to spring from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There is nothing a person can do to reduce the odds of developing migraine.
Preventing Migraines At Any Age
The healthy habits to prevent migraines are the same at any age. That said, how you fit those habits into your life may vary depending on the stage. This includes:
1. Good sleep hygiene
Whether youre a 20-year-old college student or a 31-year-old father of two, its important to get enough good-quality sleep. Remember, taking care of yourself to prevent migraines can help you better take care of others.
2. Eat regular, balanced meals
Many migraine experts believe that eating regularly is often more important than what you eat. If you have a schedule that makes it hard to have regular meals, have migraine-friendly snacks with you at all times.
3. Stay hydrated
Avoiding dehydration is one of the best prevention methods for migraines. This is easier for some than others. For example, a teacher might have to go hours at a time without using the bathroom. To cope with this, they might intentionally avoid drinking anything. This can lead to dehydration and trigger migraines.
If you know hydration is important for your migraine management, it might be worth talking to your boss or supervisor about accommodations at work that could help you drink enough water. This benefits everyone in the long run since it helps you avoid a migraine, which would affect your ability to work altogether.
4. Exercise regularly
5. Manage stress
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Treatment And Prevention Of Ocular And Visual Migraines
As already noted, visual disturbances caused by ocular migraines and visual migraines typically go away within an hour.
If you are performing tasks that require clear vision when an ocular migraine or visual migraine occurs, stop what you are doing and relax until it passes. If you’re driving, pull of the road, park your vehicle and wait for your vision to return to normal.
As soon as possible, see your eye doctor, family physician or a neurologist for evaluation of your migraine episodes. Your doctor can let you know about the latest medicines for treating migraines, including those that may help prevent future attacks.
It’s also a good idea to keep a journal of your diet and daily activities. Doing so can help you identify possible triggers of your ocular migraines or visual migraines .
Many migraine attacks are stress-related. You might be able to reduce how often they occur by:
Avoiding common migraine triggers
Getting plenty of sleep
Trying stress-busters such as yoga and massage
Migraines can be successfully managed so they are less frequent and debilitating. The first step is to see a doctor to discuss your symptoms including vision problems and discuss treatment and prevention options.
Do Hormones Improve Migraine Attacks Or Worsen Them
Hormones are linked to migraine attacks, but its the changes in hormone levels, rather than the amount of hormones themselves, that matter most, according to the American Migraine Foundation.
For example, if a drop in estrogen is rapid, such as right before a menstrual cycle, the likelihood of developing a migraine episode increases.
A 2021 review of 19 studies found a link between estrogen withdrawal and migraine, with the greatest impact occurring when estrogen levels fell below 45 to 50 picograms per milliliter .
The review also concluded that not all women experience the same effect, and more research is needed to examine these differences.
Hormonal changes in pregnancy have a similar effect. During pregnancy, estrogen levels increase, and most people experience fewer migraine attacks. However, after pregnancy, estrogen levels drop, and headaches can return.
Even though your estrogen levels decrease in menopause, so do the big hormonal fluctuations. Its for this reason that migraine attacks usually occur less frequently. It can take several years after the start of menopause for hormones to fully settle, but once they do, migraine episodes stop occurring for many people.
While hormones can trigger migraine symptoms at any point in your reproductive years, perimenopause might be the time youre most impacted. This is because hormonal fluctuations are more pronounced than ever and can change unpredictably.
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Migraines Through The Lifespan
In your 20s, many people attend college and enter the workforce. Both of which might shake up their routine more than expected. Adjusting to new schedules may change your sleep, food, and hydration habits. Drinking alcohol is also common at this age, which can trigger migraines.
In their 20s, 30s, and 40s, parenthood may affect migraine management. Raising children shifts their responsibilities, makes their daily schedules tighter, and likely adds stress. The challenge of balancing all their roles may make it challenging to stick to migraine prevention habits. Pregnancy alone can cause hormonal changes that affect migraines.
What Is An Ocular Migraine
An ocular migraine is a rare condition characterized by temporary vision loss or even temporary blindness in one eye. Ocular migraines are caused by reduced blood flow or spasms of blood vessels in the retina or behind the eye.
In an ocular migraine, vision in the affected eye generally returns to normal within an hour. Ocular migraines can be painless or they can occur along with a migraine headache. Ocular migraines are also called retinal migraines.
Unfortunately, “ocular migraine” often is used to describe a much more common condition called a visual migraine or migraine aura.
Visual migraines also cause temporary vision disturbances. But the vision problems caused by visual migraines affect both eyes, not just one eye, and tend to be somewhat shorter usually around 20 minutes in duration.
Now, lets take a closer look at ocular migraines and visual migraines .
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How Can I Tell If I Have A Migraine Or Just A Bad Tension
Compared with migraine, tension-type headache is generally less severe and rarely disabling. Compare your symptoms with those in this chart to see what type of headache you might be having.
|Aura before onset of headache||x|
Note: Rebound headache may have features of tension and/or migraine headache. Adapted from a table produced by the American Council for Headache Education.
Although fatigue and stress can bring on both tension and migraine headaches, migraines can be triggered by certain foods, changes in the body’s hormone levels, and even changes in the weather.
There also are differences in how types of headaches respond to treatment with medicines. Although some over-the-counter drugs used to treat tension-type headaches sometimes help migraine headaches, the drugs used to treat migraine attacks do not work for tension-type headaches for most people.
You can’t tell the difference between a migraine and a tension-type headache by how often they occur. Both can occur at irregular intervals. Also, in rare cases, both can occur daily or almost daily.
Migraine Treatment In The Elderly
Migraine treatment in older individuals depends on several factors and treatment plans will need to be individualized. Some of the treatments of geriatric migraines include things like weight modification, exercise and the use of intravenous and/or oral medications. The use of certain drugs may not be possible in the elderly due to other medical conditions which prohibit their use.4 In addition, the higher percentage of triptan-influenced rebound headaches in those over the age of 50 years can also limit treatment options.
Ultimately, identifying more effective treatments that reduce and prevent migraine attacks are sorely neededespecially for elderly patients.
1Song T-J, Kim Y-J, Kim B-K, et al. Characteristics of Elderly-Onset Headache Diagnosed Using the International Classification of Headache Disorders, Third Edition Beta Version. Journal of Clinical Neurology . 2016 12:419-425. doi:10.3988/jcn.2016.12.4.419.
2Martins KM, Bordini CA, Bigal ME, Speciali JG. Migraine in the elderly: a comparison with migraine in young adults. Headache. 2006 Feb 46:312-6.
3Kelman L. Migraine changes with age: IMPACT on migraine classification. Headache. 2006 Jul-Aug 46:1161-71.
4Hershey LA, Bednarczyk EM. Treatment of Headache in the Elderly. Current Treatment Options in Neurology. 2013 15:56-62. doi:10.1007/s11940-012-0205-6.
9Lisotto C, Mainardi F, Maggioni F, Zanchin G. Episodic hypnic headache? Cephalalgia. 2004 Aug 24:681-5.
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Weakness On One Side Of The Body
When an arm goes limp, it can be a sign of a migraine.
Some people experience muscle weakness on one side of the body before a migraine attack. This can also be a sign of a stroke, however, so consult a doctor to rule out any other causes.
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Managing Migraine In Women Often Means Managing Hormones
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Prevalence of migraine among women is about three times that of men, and fluctuations in female sex hormones often play a role in the onset of the condition. Women are particularly vulnerable to migraine during the childbearing years, which are also generally the most active and demanding years of a womans life.
The evolution of migraine in women is related to big hormonal times of change. It picks up at menarche and rapidly increases in incidence and prevalence during the teens, 20s and going into the 30s and 40s,Jelena Pavlovic, MD, PhD, of the Montefiore Medical Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, told Endocrine Today. In terms of burden, it culminates in the reproductive years, when women need to be the most productive, with young children and jobs.
Pavlovic talked to Endocrine Today about the mechanisms of hormonal migraine, how the condition is diagnosed, and the different treatments that may benefit patients with these debilitating headaches.
What types of hormonal changes are most likely to cause migraine?
How exactly do hormones affect migraine? Which hormones are involved?
This suggests that we need another trigger to come along and tip an already sensitive system over into migraine.
How should hormone-related migraine be treated during the different phases of a womans reproductive life?
For more information:
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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
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.