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How To Deal With Severe Migraines

What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Menstrual Migraines

Learn How to Deal with Menstrual Migraines
  • Am I experiencing a menstrual migraine or another type of migraine?
  • Should I change any of the medications Im taking?
  • What treatment do you recommend?
  • What medications should I take?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

A migraine is more than a bad headache. Not only can menstrual migraines get severe, but women have reported that they can be even worse than a migraine that occurs when theyre not on their period. Talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms. There are preventative measures and treatment options. A menstrual migraine might not be something you just have to live with every month.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/03/2021.

References

Make A Treatment Plan

Developing a good relationship with the doctor who is helping you manage your migraine is important. Review your symptoms and triggers with your doctor. Together, you can create a treatment plan that will not only help you manage the pain when a migraine happens, but keep them from developing in the first place.

A good treatment plan should include:

  • identifying the type of migraine you have
  • identifying triggers

What Else Can I Do To Prevent Migraines

While there are no sure ways to keep from having migraine headaches, here are some things that may help:

  • Eat regularly and do not skip meals.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule.
  • Exercise regularly. Aerobic exercise can reduce tension and keep your weight in check. Obesity can contribute to migraines.
  • Keep a migraine journal to track what triggers your migraines and what treatments are most helpful.

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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.

What Causes A Migraine

Migraines: Coping, Support, and Living Well

The cause of migraine headaches is complicated and not fully understood. When you have a headache its because specific nerves in your blood vessels send pain signals to your brain. This releases inflammatory substances into the nerves and blood vessels of your head. Its unclear why your nerves do that.

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What Are The Symptoms Of A Menstrual Migraine

The symptoms of a menstrual migraine are the same as the symptoms for other types of migraines:

  • Headache pain that ranges from dull to a severe throb.
  • Feeling very warm or cold .
  • Sensitivity to light, noise and smells.
  • Tender scalp.
  • Nausea and vomiting, stomach upset, abdominal pain.
  • Diarrhea or fever .

Managing Migraines At Home

A migraine is a common type of headache. It may occur with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. Most people feel a throbbing pain on only one side of their head during a migraine.

Some people who get migraines have warning signs, called an aura, before the actual headache begins. An aura is a group of symptoms that includes vision changes. An aura is a warning sign that a bad headache is coming.

Migraine headaches can be triggered by certain foods. The most common are:

  • Any processed, fermented, pickled, or marinated foods, as well as foods that contain monosodium glutamate
  • Baked goods, chocolate, nuts, and dairy products
  • Fruits
  • Meats containing sodium nitrates, such as bacon, hot dogs, salami, and cured meats
  • Red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken liver, figs, and certain beans

Alcohol, stress, hormonal changes, skipping meals, lack of sleep, certain odors or perfumes, loud noises or bright lights, exercise, and cigarette smoking may also trigger a migraine.

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Drink Caffeinated Tea Or Coffee

Sipping on beverages that contain caffeine, such as tea or coffee, may provide relief when you are experiencing a headache.

Caffeine improves mood, increases alertness and constricts blood vessels, all of which can have a positive effect on headache symptoms .

It also helps increase the effectiveness of common medications used to treat headaches, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen .

However, caffeine withdrawal has also been shown to cause headaches if a person regularly consumes large amounts of caffeine and suddenly stops.

Therefore, people who get frequent headaches should be mindful of their caffeine intake .

Certain herbs including feverfew and butterbur may reduce headache symptoms.

Feverfew is a flowering plant that has anti-inflammatory properties.

Some studies suggest that taking feverfew supplements in doses of 50150 mg per day may reduce headache frequency. However, other studies have failed to find a benefit .

Butterbur root comes from a perennial shrub native to Germany and, like feverfew, has anti-inflammatory effects.

Several studies have shown that taking butterbur extract in doses of 50150 mg reduces headache symptoms in both adults and children .

Feverfew is generally considered safe if taken in recommended amounts. However, butterbur should be treated with caution, as unpurified forms can cause liver damage, and the effects of its long-term use are unknown (

Foods containing them have been shown to trigger headaches in some people.

What Are Some Migraine Risk Factors And Triggers

Dealing with Migraine Headaches

Some risk factors make you more likely to get migraine headaches. Other things may trigger a migraine.

Common migraine risk factors include the following:

  • Family history: You are much more likely to have migraines if one or both of your parents had migraines.
  • Sex: Women are more likely than men to have migraines.
  • Age: Most people have their first migraine during adolescence, but migraines can start at any age, usually before age 40.

Common migraine triggers include the following:

  • Food and drink: Certain food and drink may cause migraines. Dehydration and dieting or skipping meals may also trigger migraines.
  • Hormone changes: Women may experience migraines related to their menstrual cycles, to menopause, or to using hormonal birth control or hormone replacement therapy.
  • Stress: Stress may trigger migraines. Stress includes feeling overwhelmed at home or work. But you can also become stressed by exercising too much or not getting enough sleep.
  • Senses: Loud sounds, bright lights , or strong smells may trigger migraines.
  • Medicines: Certain medicines may trigger migraines. If you think your migraines might be related to your medicine, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medicine.
  • Illness: Infections, such as the cold or the flu, may trigger migraines, especially in children.

Foods that may trigger migraines:

  • Aged, canned, cured, or processed meat
  • Aged cheese
  • Soy sauce

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Changes In The Weather

Storms, excessive heat and changes in barometric pressure are common weather-related migraine triggers that can lead to a migraine attack. High humidity and heat can easily lead to dehydration, another common trigger.

How to cope: We cant control the weather, so if the current conditions are not favorable for your migraine, stay inside or adjust your schedule accordingly. If theres an errand you need to run and its the middle of July in Arizona, take care of it in the morning before it gets too hot!

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.

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What Is Status Migrainosus

This problem can happen to anyone with migraine. When our typical medicines stop working and migraine keeps going beyond the usual 4-72 hours, we may be experiencing a complication of migraine called status migrainosus.

In A Neurologists Guide to Status Migrainosus Therapy in the Emergency Room, Drs. Gelfand and Goadsby state, It must be stated at the outset that an ED visit for migraine represents a failure of appropriate outpatient management, and modifications in the patients rescue plan need to be made to avoid such visits in the future.1

Are Headaches A Sign Of Covid

Cluster Headache Relief

Headaches can be typical conditions for many, whether they are associated with allergies, stress, lack of sleep, eye strain, or many other common causes. Due to this, headaches may be overlooked and not taken as seriously as they should.

Although not mentioned as much as the loss of smell and taste, headaches can also be early symptoms of COVID-19 for all age groups, with headaches being less common in children.

The headaches tend to start at the beginning of the illness.

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Data and research continue to determine why headaches are a cause of COVID, but like any other respiratory infection, the link between headaches and COVID is not that uncommon.

Some medical specialists suggest that another theory may be that fluid enters around the brain, possibly triggering a headache in COVID patients.

In addition, dehydration or hunger as a result of eating and drinking habits changing while dealing with COVID can be culprits.

Persistent headaches also appear to occur in those who have previously had COVID, also known as post-COVID headaches.

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Were Also Living In A Stressful World Full Of Migraine Triggers

Theres a reason that migraines from stress are so common. Try as we might escape it, stress is a normal part of human life . According to another APA survey, the pandemic isnt the only thing on peoples minds these days. Political division and unrest are also a big stressor for many peopleyet another thing we cant always control.4

And humans handle and cope with stress differently, which means that any number of situations can be a potential trigger for a stress-induced migraine if youre susceptible to them.

Big life changes, such as moving to a new city or starting a family are common culprits for stress-induced migraines. However, something as simple as watching the news can also create enough stress to set the stage for an attack. Or even something much smaller, like spilling coffee on your favorite pair of pants, can bring on a migraine attack if youre already feeling tense.

The American Migraine Foundations Guide To Triggers & How To Manage Them

The sudden onset of migraine means a dark room, bed, and a cool towel for most of us. While these seem to come out of nowhere, many will find that there are usually some signs that a migraine attack is on its way. These signs can reveal a pattern in your symptoms, and even provide you with preventative tools for managing migraine. Everyone has different triggers, but there are a few common culprits that affect a large number of people living with migraine. When you can identify your triggers, you are one step closer to effectively managing your migraine and avoiding future attacks.

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What Causes Abdominal Migraine

The cause of abdominal migraine is unknown. We dont know the exact connection between an abdominal migraine and a classic migraine, but we do know theres a connection between the gut and the brain, says Deena Kuruvilla, MD, a neurologist and specialist in facial and headache pain at Yale Medicine. Many of the drugs we use to treat depression, for example, are effective in treating an abdominal migraine.

Are Migraines Hereditary

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Migraines tend to run in families. As many as four out of five people with migraines have a family history. If one parent has a history of migraines, their child has a 50% chance of having them. If both parents have a history of migraines, the risk jumps to 75%. Again, up to 80% of people with migraines have a first-degree relative with the disease.

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When To Call The Doctor

  • You are experiencing “the worst headache of your life.”
  • You have speech, vision, or movement problems or loss of balance, especially if you have not had these symptoms with a headache before.
  • You have a fever with your headache.
  • A headache starts suddenly or is explosive in nature.

Schedule an appointment or call your provider if:

  • Your headache patterns or pain changes.
  • Treatments that once worked are no longer help.
  • You have side effects from your medicine.
  • You are pregnant or could become pregnant. Some medicines should not be taken during pregnancy.
  • You need to take pain medicines more than 3 days a week.
  • You are taking birth control pills and have migraine headaches.
  • Your headaches are more severe when lying down.

Rest In A Quiet Dark Room

Many people with migraine report sensitivity to light and sound, which can make headaches worse. According to a study published in Nature Neuroscience, the pain caused by light can be traced to a group of light-sensing cells in the eye called intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells , which help maintain sleep-wake cycles and pupil response to light. In rats, these cells converge on brain cells that transmit pain.

Exposure to light activates the ipRGC cells and the pain-transmitting cells, and the cells remain activated for several minutes. The researchers theorize that that mechanism could be the reason headache pain gets worse in the light and improves 20 to 30 minutes after being in the dark.

Go to a room thats dark and quiet, and you may be able to sleep, Dr. Good says. Not all headaches respond to sleep, she notes, but the chemicals released in your brain during sleep may help ease your pain. Also, she says, if youre sensitive to sounds, blocking them out could help.

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What Causes Chronic Migraine

Its not fully understood what causes chronic migraine.

For a lot of people chronic migraine develops gradually with migraine attacks becoming more frequent over time. Around 2.5 out of 100 people with episodic migraine will develop chronic migraine each year. For some people chronic migraine will go into remission within 2 years of becoming chronic.

The pattern of chronic migraine will vary depending on your individual circumstances. For some people it may return to episodic migraine, some people find it stays the same and others find that it gets worse.

There are a number of medical conditions that can increase your tendency to have migraine. These include:

Managing these can help with managing migraine and the effectiveness of migraine treatment.

How Prevalent Are Migraines

How Hard Is It To Live With Migraine Disease

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

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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

Lifestyle Modification And Trigger Reduction

When patients have chronic severe headaches, it can be difficult to recognize specific triggers. Paradoxically it is often the case that as chronic headaches start to improve with treatment, triggers become more obvious. Regularity of regimen with regard to meals, hydration, sleep and stress is always helpful in reducing the tendency to migraines recognizing that this is helpful is straightforward, but actually making the requisite changes in a modern busy life may be more difficult.

Many patients with chronic migraine will have other problems that exacerbate their tendency to headaches: these include depression, anxiety, other pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia, localized pain in head and neck structures, and conditions that create metabolic strain such as sleep apnoea or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. Proper management of these is necessary to maximize the effect of any other migraine treatments. It is particularly important to recognize and manage medication overuse as failure to do so will render most attempts at preventive treatment ineffective .

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