What Are The Steps Of Migraine Diagnosis
The steps of migraine diagnosis will depend on your overall health, family history, and a few other factors.
You can start by seeing a primary care doctor. In some cases, you might need to see a neurologist for further testing and treatment. During your migraine diagnosis, a doctor will:
- gather your medical history
- order scans to rule out other conditions
You can read more about each step below.
Tips For Managing And Preventing Visual Migraines
If your visual migraine occurs frequently, here are some tips to help you prevent or manage the condition.
- Acupressure. This is an evidence-based practice of applying pressure with hands to specific points on the body to relieve pain and other symptoms. It can be an effective alternative therapy for migraine headaches.
- Lavender oil. Lavender oil can be inhaled or applied diluted to the temples to ease your migraine pain.
- Peppermint oil. According to a 2010 study, the menthol in peppermint oil can minimize migraines.6 The research showed that applying menthol to the forehead and temples relieved migraine-related pain, nausea, and light sensitivity.
- Yoga. Yoga uses breathing, meditation, and body postures to promote health and well-being, relieving the frequency, duration, and intensity of migraines.
- Massage therapy. Massage reduces stress and enhances coping skills. It also lowers heart rate, anxiety, and cortisol levels.
- Herbal supplements. Butterbur and feverfew are common herbal remedies that may aid with migraine pain and frequency reduction.
- Avoid Triggers. Ocular migraine triggers such as caffeinated foods, alcohol, dehydration, smoking, or stress
- Unwind at the end of the day. Basic things like listening to soothing music or taking a warm bath after a long day can help your body relax and prevent migraines.
Migraine Is More Than A Headache Learn About Other Symptoms Of Migraine Including Uncommon And Surprising Signs
How do you know if your symptoms add up to migraine? A migraine attack typically involves moderate to severe head pain, often on one side of the head. Headache is a general term to describe head pain and is a common symptom of migraine. However, not all headaches are caused by migraine, and not all migraine involves head pain.
For the 39 million people living with migraine in the U.S., attacks usually involve other symptoms besides head pain. Some common symptoms are nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, smells and sounds. But other signs are less common or overlooked. Many people who experience these symptoms may not realize they are related to migraine.
Knowing all the symptoms of migraineeven the uncommon onesis important for getting the proper diagnosis and treatment. Weve outlined nine surprising symptoms of a migraine attack to help guide you.
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Economic Impact Of Migraine
The economic cost resulting from migraine-related loss of productive time in the US workforce is more than $13 billion per year, most of which is in the form of reduced work productivity. In the American Migraine Study, more than 85% of women and 82% of men with severe migraine had some headache-related disability. Migraineur men required 3.8 bed-rest days per year, whereas women required 5.6 bed-rest days per year.
Migraine And Vascular Disorders
Migraine and ischemic strokes reportedly occur in 1.4-3.3 per 100,000 population and account for 0.8% of total strokes. Milhaud et al showed that in young patients with active migraine who had suffered ischemic stroke, risk factors such as patent foramen ovale, female gender, and oral contraceptive use were much more likely to be present posterior circulation stroke was characteristic. Surprisingly, older patients characteristically lacked vascular risk factors .
Even in patients older than 45 years, women with migraine are more likely to suffer from ischemic stroke.
Migraineurs, male and female, have a 2.5-fold increased risk of subclinical cerebellar stroke and those with migraines with aura and increased headache frequency are at the highest risk.
Migraineurs also have a higher incidence of adverse cardiovascular profiles , and they are more likely to be smokers, have a family history of early heart attacks, and have an unfavorable cholesterol profile. The odds of an elevated Framingham risk score of coronary artery disease are doubled with migraine with aura, and women who have migraine with aura are more likely to be using oral contraceptives.
These findings have been confirmed in a population-based study by Bigal et al. Similarly, a study by Gudmundsson et al found that men and women who have migraine with aura are at a higher risk for cardiovascular and all-cause mortality than are those without headache.
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Seek Help Early And Advocate For Yourself
Many responders wished they knew what migraine truly was before receiving their diagnosis. But they also reported wishing they had more information on how to treat migraine in its early stages. Several members shared the painful realization that receiving medical attention for their condition sooner could have prevented things from worsening. If you suspect that you could be experiencing migraine, its important to see a doctor. As MAM member Gina wrote, ignoring or getting inadequate treatment for the episodic migraines can lead to chronic migraines down the road.
Early intervention in the management of migraine is key. This goes for preventing episodic migraine from becoming chronic, as well as for treating a migraine attack. Take the as soon as you feel the migraine coming, because it wont go away on its own. Migraine pain is real, and Im not being dramatic or a sissy to feel the pain that I feel. Migraine is awful and can be debilitating, said MAM member Emily.
Acute treatments for migraine can help greatly shorten or reduce the intensity of a migraine attack, and may help a person resume their day. The sooner theyre taken, the quicker they can begin to work. Even as the number of treatment methods available for migraine increase, it may take time to find the right treatment for you. Finding the right doctor is part of that process, too.
Our Team: We Are Here To Help
We are a small, dedicated app development team that wants you to better understand your migraines and triggers. Everyone on the team has lived with migraines at some point in their lives. We are your community, and were here to help. Reach out any time with questions. .
As always please seek the advice of a doctor for medical questions. Our app team cannot give medical advice.
Track Your Triggers
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Diagnosis Of Migraine With Aura
About 1 out of every 4 people with migraine will have migraine with aura. Aura is a group of temporary changes to vision, hearing, or touch that come with migraine head pain. To be diagnosed with migraine with aura, you doctor will look for the same symptoms as migraine without aura, plus:1
- At least 2 attacks
- Changes in sight, hearing, speech, movement, numbness, or tingling that spread over 5 minutes or longer
- Aura symptoms that last 5 minutes to 1 hour and then wear off
- Aura symptoms that begin up to 1 hour before the head pain or overlap with head pain
How Is Chronic Migraine Diagnosed
Your doctor will take a detailed medical history. The doctor will ask about:
- Your pattern of migraine pain, including when and how migraines begin if they are episodic or continuous how long the migraine lasts if there are any triggers or factors that make the migraine worse.
- Your description of the pain, including its location, sensation, and severity.
- Other symptoms that accompany the pain, such as auras, lack of energy, stiff neck, dizziness, changes in vision or in senses, and nausea/vomiting.
- Your current and previously tried treatments, including when the medications are taken, dosages, outcome and side effects and use of alternative or complementary therapies.
- Your medical history including other health problems , family history of headache, current non-headache medications, and lifestyle choices .
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Ocular Migraines: Common Questions And Answers
Below are some frequently asked questions about ocular migraines:
Can dehydration cause ocular migraines?
Dehydration is one of the triggers of ocular migraines. Keeping your body hydrated will help prevent or reduce the frequency of occurrence of migraines.
Can anxiety cause ocular migraines?
Just like dehydration, anxiety is also a trigger of ocular migraines. The symptoms of ocular migraines can also cause anxiety, which worsens ocular migraines.
Simple reassurance from your doctor will lower anxiety levels and decrease or eliminate ocular migraines.
Can high blood pressure cause ocular migraines?
Researchers are working to fully understand the relationship between high blood pressure and ocular migraines.
Current research points to the fact that migraine attacks are prevalent in people with high blood pressure.
Anyone suffering from high blood pressure is advised to get it under control, especially those with a known history of ocular migraines.
Are ocular migraines a symptom of a brain tumor?
A migraine that is accompanied by vision issues can be associated with certain tumors, such as the occipital lobe tumor.
Although this is a rare condition, migraines are common among patients with brain tumors.
Is an ocular migraine a sign of a stroke?
An ocular migraine is not necessarily a sign of a stroke, but can indicate increased risk.
However, research indicates that people with a history of ocular migraines are at a higher risk of stroke.
In this article
Tests That May Be Used To Rule Out Other Diseases
Blood tests Blood tests can be done to rule out some other diseases that can cause headache.
Computerized tomography scan
Magnetic resonance imaging Similar to a CT scan, an MRI can also produce detailed images of your brain and blood vessels to help your doctor diagnose any tumors, strokes, bleeding, infections, or other neurological conditions that may be causing symptoms.
Lumbar puncture If your doctor suspects that your symptoms may be caused by an infection or neurological damage, you may be asked to undergo this procedure . In a lumbar puncture, your doctor will first sterilize the skin overlying two vertebrae , then anesthetize the area with an injection of a local anesthetic. After that, the doctor will insert a thin needle into the space between the vertebrae to remove a sample of cerebrospinal fluid for laboratory analysis.
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A Process Of Elimination
Why all the questions? Doctor want to rule out other types of head pain, such as sinus headaches and cluster headaches, as well as other potential causes. Red flags that something else is going on include fever, weight loss, runny nose, eye tearing or sudden onset of headaches. Doctors use a method called SNOOP to elicit whether any of these worrisome symptoms could be a sign of a serious health situation such as a brain aneurysm or brain tumors . Your physical exam will include vital signs and simple neurologic tests to help rule out those possibilities. In the rare case that your doctor finds cause for concern, blood tests and/or imaging studies will be ordered to pinpoint the root cause, says Dr. Seng.
More On Migraine Symptoms
Not all migraine symptoms are going to be strong or ones that will immediately indicate being unwell. Head pain, sensitivity to light, noise, odours, dizziness and blurred vision will be symptoms that will sound an alarm right away that youre developing a migraine. But feeling tired, losing appetite, or having a tender scalp may not. As mentioned, its best to take migraine headache treatment medication during stage 1 the prodrome stage and so if youre going to focus on any one set of migraine symptoms it should be on the ones for the 1st stage of a migraine headache:
- Problems concentrating
- Sensitivity to sound and light
- Food cravings
- Difficulty with speaking or reading
- Excessive yawning and / or unexplained sleepiness
- Nausea or muscle stiffness
- Frequent urination
All of these go along with certain standard migraine symptoms like seeing your skin become pale , getting diarrhea, or running a fever suddenly.
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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.
Acute Migraine Headache: Treatment Strategies
LAURA MAYANS, MD, MPH, and ANNE WALLING, MB, ChB, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Wichita, Kansas
Am Fam Physician. 2018 Feb 15 97:243-251.
Patient information: A handout on this topic is available at .
Migraine is a primary headache disorder characterized by recurrent attacks. Acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, triptans, antiemetics, ergot alkaloids, and combination analgesics have evidence supporting their effectiveness in the treatment of migraine. Acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are first-line treatments for mild to moderate migraines, whereas triptans are first-line treatments for moderate to severe migraines. Although triptans are effective, they may be expensive. Other medications such as dihydroergotamine and antiemetics are recommended for use as second- or third-line therapy for select patients or for those with refractory migraine. The pharmacologic properties, potential adverse effects, cost, and routes of administration vary widely, allowing therapy to be individualized based on the pattern and severity of attacks. Several treatment principles, including taking medication early in an attack and using a stratified treatment approach, can help ensure that migraine treatment is cost-effective.
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SORT: KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PRACTICE
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Predisposing Factors And Triggers
Contrary to popular belief, predisposing and trigger factors are of limited importance in migraine, and their role is often overemphasized. An important exception is menstruation, as some womens migraine attacks are exclusively or frequently menstruation-related. True trigger factors are often self-evident. Moreover, aggravating factors should not be conflated with predisposing factors. The former worsen headache during migraine attacks , whereas predisposing factors increase susceptibility to the development of a migraine attack .
Nevertheless, if predisposing and trigger factors can be correctly identified and subsequently avoided , some headache control might be achievable without further intervention. For instance, lifestyle changes can benefit patients with poor sleep quality or physical fitness, though any changes should not result in unnecessary avoidance behaviour, which can itself damage quality of life.
How To Ensure A Correct Diagnosis For Your Headache
Even though headaches afflict a large number of people, very few actually consider seeing a doctor. Headaches are not taken seriously because they are mostly episodic, not contagious and are rarely known to cause deaths. The individuals who do end up visiting the doctors clinic are those who can no longer bear the pain or want to eliminate fear that the headache could be a symptom of a more serious illness. Either way, treating frequent headaches effectively can go a long way in improving your quality of life.
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Recognizing My Limits And Respecting Them
I often dont respect my limits or even know what they are because I dont respect myself as someone with an illness. I think this is mostly because people around me dont take my illness seriously, so I begin thinking, why should I? If everyone is telling me migraines are no big deal, why should I plan my life around them and ask for accommodations? Why not push through them?But thats a mistake because every time I do push through my migraines I inevitably crash and burn. Then I end up even more unwell and I get mad at myself. Its a horrible feeling.
This is still something Im working on: respecting and accepting my body as a body struggling with chronic illness, being gentle while I find my limits, and not pushing past those limits.
I will always have struggles in life with chronic intractable migraine. I am not perfect and I certainly dont have everything figured out but that is OK. Its OK to be struggling. Its normal. I try to tell myself that every day. Once I conquer these current struggles, Im sure new ones will pop up. I do believe, however, that I have taken a huge first step by being able to acknowledge my current struggles and share them. I believe the first step to coping is understanding why you think what you think and do what you do. Most importantly though, I will never give up fighting the struggles I face with my diagnosis. And to anyone out there who struggles because of their chronic illness, never stop fighting.
Getty image by Draganab.
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.
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Can You Prevent Migraine
If youve already been diagnosed with migraine, your doctor can help you figure out the best prevention methods. Often, your first step will be keeping a migraine journal so that you can figure out what triggers your attacks and avoid them.
Many migraine triggers are related to everyday health habits. This includes:
- not getting enough sleep
- not exercising enough
- being under stress
For some people, managing those things can help you prevent or lessen migraine. You can also avoid common trigger foods and drinks, such as: