What Happens During A Migraine
Every migraine begins differently. Sometimes people get a warning that a migraine is on its way. A few hours or even days before the actual headache, people might feel funny or “not right. They might crave different foods, or feel thirsty, irritable, tired, or even full of energy. This is called a “premonition.”
Some people get auras. These are neurological symptoms that start just before the headache and last up to an hour. An aura is different in every person, but it often affects vision. For example, a person might:
- have blurred vision
- see spots, colored balls, jagged lines, or bright flashing lights
- smell a certain odor
- feel tingling in a part of their face
Once the headache starts, light, smell, or sound may bother people with migraines or make them feel worse. Sometimes, if they try to continue with their usual routine, they may become nauseated and vomit. Often the pain begins only on one side of the head, but it might eventually affect both sides. Trying to do physical activities can make the pain worse.
Most migraines last from 30 minutes to several hours; some can last a couple of days.
Stages Of A Migraine Attack
It is often difficult to know when a migraine attack is going to happen. However, you can often tell the pattern of each attack as there are;well defined stages.
It is these stages and their symptoms that distinguish a migraine from a headache.
However, not everyone will experience all of the symptoms of each stage and the stages can overlap. In adults, we can divide a migraine attack into four or five stages that lead on from each other.
Learning to recognise the different stages of a migraine attack can be useful. You might get one, all, or a combination of these stages, and the combination of stages may vary from attack to attack. Each stage can vary in how long and how bad it is. Recognising different symptoms at different times during your attack can give your doctor information which may help them make a diagnosis. Taking medication as soon as you notice the pain may stop or shorten an attack.
Migraine attacks in children are often much shorter than in an adult. It may be easier to tell the different headache stages in a child.
What Are The Acute Treatments For Migraine
An isolated visual migraine, without headache, typically does not require any acute treatment, since the visual symptoms resolve on their own fairly quickly. The first few times someone experiences a visual migraine it usually causes a lot of anxiety. Once someone has become familiar with the symptoms of a visual migraine, new episodes no longer cause the same level of anxiety.
It can be helpful to try to rest during the episode. Some patients benefit from other strategies, including eating something, having caffeine, or taking an over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen .
Patients in whom the visual symptoms are accompanied by a severe headache often benefit from additional therapies. The goal of these medications is to try to cut short the headache before it becomes too severe. Some patients find naproxen , which is a stronger anti-inflammatory medication, to be helpful. Other patients try a class of medications known as triptans.
Triptans are specially designed to work on receptors on blood vessels and brain cells in order to halt a migraine at an early stage. Although there are a number of different triptans, made by several different pharmaceutical companies, each of these is approximately equally effective. Triptans are often taken orally, but also come as injections and nasal sprays. These medicines are generally not considered safe in patients with a history of strokes, heart attacks, or other vascular diseases.
Don’t Miss: Migraine Headache With Fever
Consider What Caused It
If you can determine the cause of your migraine, you may be able to take additional steps to find relief. For instance, are you getting a migraine because you havent had enough to eat today? Some migraines can be triggered by a lack of food, which can cause . If you think your headache is triggered by hunger, eat something thats easy on the stomach such as saltine crackers. This, in combination with your medications, may give you additional relief. The National Headache Foundation says some people may crave carbohydrates just before a migraine hits. If this is the case, listen to your body and have a snack.
Dehydration can cause headaches too, and may make your migraine worse. If you havent had enough fluids today, get a drink of water. Sip slowly to avoid triggering nausea or vomiting.
I’m Pregnant Can My Migraines Still Be Treated
Some migraine medicines should not be used when you are pregnant because they can cause birth defects and other problems. This includes over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Talk with your doctor if migraine is a problem while you are pregnant or if you are planning to become pregnant. Your doctor might suggest a medicine that will help you and that is safe during pregnancy. Home treatment methods, such as doing relaxation exercises and using cold packs, also might help ease your pain. The good news is that for most women migraines improve or stop from about the third month of the pregnancy.
Read Also: How Does Amitriptyline Work For Migraines
Migraine Is Much More Than Just A Headache
There are different;types of migraine;that involve different symptoms. There are many features or symptoms that are a part of migraine. There are also differences in how severe a symptom might be.
The most common symptoms of a migraine attack include:
- throbbing headache
- sensitivity to light, noise and smell
How To Relieve Migraine Ear Pressure
Reliable treatments that have been used effectively for years to treat classic migraine head pain are generally effective against atypical symptoms of migraine as well. That means migraine ear pressure can be treated with migraine preventative and abortive medications. In fact, even those who have ear pressure caused by other conditions such as Menieres Disease may improve this symptom with migraine treatment.
Proven migraine preventative supplements can also help improve migraine ear pressure. Particularly magnesium. Your goal in life if you have migraine is to keep your hyper-responsive brain calm and magnesium works to help that happen by blocking the excited pain pathway in the brain. In addition to migraine preventative and abortive medications there are other treatment strategies that may help improve ear pressure symptoms.
You May Like: What Causes Migraines And Blurred Vision
Tips To Ease Migraine Pain
Even if you avoid your triggers and practice healthy habits, you may still experience migraines. Here are some home remedies that might bring relief.
Thinkstock ; Shutterstock
You take prevention medication and steer clear of your known triggers but still, youre hit with a migraine. Sometimes you cant avoid it. So, what can you to do relieve the pain?
Once an attack begins, you can take medication to help ease pain, says an associate professor of neurology at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. And beyond taking migraine medication, you may want to give a few home remedies a try.
There arent a lot of studies to show they are definitively effective, Dr. Good says, but many of her patients do say they help.
My Experience With The Covid
My fears about the vaccine triggering a migraine attack didnt come true, and I cant wait to hug my parents again soon.
I have been looking forward to the opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccine for over a year.
Or, maybe its not that Ive been looking forward to the vaccine so much as the freedom from fear and worry that it represents.
My reasons are my parents, ages 90 and 88, and my 17-year-old nephew with type 1 diabetes. Reducing their exposure has been a family goal.
We used to get together as a family every Thursday, order pizza from my brothers pizza shop, and catch up. That all stopped a year ago which was hard, since weve been having pizza night every week since 1996.
We switched over to Zoom pizza night for a while and socially distant and outside in the summer, but we have missed seeing each other in person.
I miss hugging my parents.
While I was excited about the possibility of getting vaccinated once it was my turn, as someone living with chronic migraine, I had some concerns.
The COVID-19 vaccine is a frequently discussed topic in chronic migraine online support groups, with good reason.
Many people living with chronic migraine have daily symptoms and are worried that the COVID-19 vaccine will increase them a rather daunting thought.
And those rumors
I heard a lot of rumors about the vaccines, even before they were available to the public. Most didnt have much to do with science.
I tested positive for COVID-19 in February 2021.
Don’t Miss: Do Daith Piercings Help With Migraines
Increase Your Turkey Intake
You’ve heard that eating turkey on Thanksgiving can make you sleepy thanks to its tryptophan. Did you know that it can also help you to find relief from migraine pain faster?
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that stimulates dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the “happy” chemical, one that helps us to feel great, and it is also a key component in the release of serotonin within the body. Serotonin works to relax the body, alleviating anxiety, worry, and negativity. Even more importantly, as tryptophan helps to produce dopamine and, in turn, serotonin, it relaxes the muscles surrounding the brain, soothing the capillaries of the scalp.
Image via Shutterstock
Tips To Relieve Migraine Pain
Rest in a quiet, dark room. Many people with migraines report sensitivity to light and sound. Make your bedroom dark and quiet, and you may be able to sleep, 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.
Apply a hot or cold compress. Place the compress across your forehead or the back of your neck. Many of my patients prefer a cold compress, says Lawrence C. Newman, MD, director of the Division of Headache at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City and a board member of the American Migraine Foundation.
Ice can have a numbing effect. It detracts the brain from the migraine, says Good. Youre stimulating other nerve endings where youre putting the compress.
Some people may prefer a warm compress, Dr. Newman says. Heat can help relax tense muscles. You may also try taking a warm bath or shower.
Smell the lavender. The scent of lavender may help you relax. You can sip some lavender tea, or inhale lavender essential oil, which is available in pharmacies and health food stores. A small study published in European Neurology in 2012 evaluated the use of lavender essential oil in people experiencing a migraine. In the trial, those who inhaled lavender essential oil for 15 minutes reported greater reduction of headache severity than those who did not.
You May Like: Can Dehydration Cause A Migraine Headache
Massage The Pain Away
A regular massage may seem like a luxury, but when a migraine strikes, it can be the best way to relive all that’s built up in your head.
Learn how to give yourself a calming and pain relieving massage, and you can prevent your migraines from growing worse, quickly. As you stretch and massage both the neck and the base of the scalp, you will stimulate blood flow and relaxation, sending the pain away from your head.
Check out Theory & Practice of Therapeutic Massage for more on how to relieve the pain of headaches and migraines through massage.
Image via Shutterstock
Are There Different Kinds Of Migraine
Yes, there are many forms of migraine. The two forms seen most often are migraine with aura and migraine without aura.
Migraine with aura .;With a migraine with aura, a person might have these sensory symptoms 10 to 30 minutes before an attack:
- Seeing flashing lights, zigzag lines, or blind spots
- Numbness or tingling in the face or hands
- Disturbed sense of smell, taste, or touch
- Feeling mentally “fuzzy”
Only one in five people who get migraine experience an aura. Women have this form of migraine less often than men.
Migraine without aura .;With this form of migraine, a person does not have an aura but has all the other features of an attack.
You May Like: How To Fake A Migraine
Have A Treatment Plan
A solid plan can give you the power to relieve a migraine before the pain becomes severe. This may be the most important weapon you have against future migraine attacks.
Your plan will likely include taking medications when you feel a migraine coming on. Knowing which medication to take can lower your stress level because it removes some of the guesswork of what you should do. Your plan may include over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription medications, or some combination of the two. You should work with your doctor to develop a migraine treatment plan thats right for you.
Acupressure May Help Relieve Tense Muscles
Acupressure is used in traditional Chinese medicine and can improve tightness and tension in the neck and shoulder muscles, which can sometimes trigger or worsen a migraine attack or headache.
According to UCLA Integrative Medicine, acupressure sends a signal to the body to turn on self-healing or regulatory mechanisms. Its performed by applying firm pressure to stimulate each pressure point. You can do acupressure to yourself or have someone else do it.
A few common pressure points for treating headache include:
- Gallbladder 20 , also called feng chi, is located by feeling the mastoid bone and following the groove back to where your neck muscles connect to the skull.
- Triple Energizer 3, or zhong zhu, is found in the groove formed by the tendons of the fourth and fifth fingers, behind the knuckles
Recommended Reading: How Long Migraine Headache Last
From General Contractor To Manufacturer’s Sales Rep
Chris was a General Contractor building large retail projects, constantly exposed to toxic migraine smells, including paint, hammering, heat and humidity, and deadlines. He loved the build, but it was constantly triggering Migraine attacks he couldn’t medicate enough.
He took his industry knowledge into a manufacturer’s rep job that gave him flexibility and a chance to get paid for results, not deadlines.
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
Read Also: Can You Get Migraines When Pregnant
Magnesium May Reduce Migraine Frequency And Intensity
In a meta-analysis published in 2016 in Pain Physician, oral magnesium was shown to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. There was also evidence that intravenous magnesium could help reduce the severity of an acute migraine attack within 15 to 45 minutes.
What Are The Types Of Headaches What Type Of Headache Is A Migraine
There are over 150 types of headaches, divided into two categories: primary headaches and secondary headaches. A migraine is a primary headache, meaning that it isnt caused by a different medical condition. Primary headache disorders are clinical diagnoses, meaning theres no blood test or imaging study to diagnose it. A secondary headache is a symptom of another health issue.
You May Like: Are Migraines And Alzheimer’s Related
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.