How Are Migraine Headaches Treated
Migraine is a complex medical condition with a range of symptoms. For most people, the main issue is a severe, painful headache. There are several ways to treat migraine headaches including self-care measures, using prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs. Most individuals can take care of mild-to-moderate attacks with the following strategies:
- Applying a cold compress on the areas of pain
- Resting with pillows supporting the neck and head
- Sleeping in a dark and silent room
- Sipping caffeine
Migraine treatments are helpful to relieve headaches and prevent future attacks. There are several medicines to combat the condition. Medications used to treat migraine can be classified into two broad categories:
- Medications for high blood pressure – Beta-blockers, Calcium channel blockers
- Antidepressants – Nortriptyline , Amitriptyline
- Antiseizure drugs – Valproic acid , Gabapentin , topiramate
- Some anti-allergy and antihistamines drugs, including cyproheptadine and diphenhydramine
When To See A Doctor
Not all headaches require a physician’s attention. But headaches can signal a more serious disorder that requires prompt medical care. Immediately call or see a physician if you or someone you’re with experience any of these symptoms:
- Sudden, severe headache that may be accompanied by a stiff neck.
- Severe headache accompanied by fever, nausea, or vomiting that is not related to another illness.
- “First” or “worst” headache, often accompanied by confusion, weakness, double vision, or loss of consciousness.
- Headache that worsens over days or weeks or has changed in pattern or behavior.
- Recurring headache in children.
- Headache following a head injury.
- Headache and a loss of sensation or weakness in any part of the body, which could be a sign of a stroke.
- Headache associated with convulsions and/or shortness of breath.
- Two or more headaches a week.
- Persistent headache in someone who has been previously headache-free, particularly in someone over age 50.
- New headaches in someone with a history of cancer or HIV/AIDS.
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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How Are Mild Headaches Diagnosed
When you have no serious symptoms, testing is not necessary with mild headaches. Blood tests are usually not helpful because the results are almost always normal unless other symptoms are present. Without injury, X-rays or CT scans are usually not necessary. Even with an injury to the head, X-rays or scans are often not needed. Physical examination in mild headache is generally normal, except for possible tenderness of the muscles of the scalp or neck.
Can Cluster Headaches Be Prevented
Since cluster headache episodes may be spaced years apart, and since the first headache of a new cluster episode can’t be predicted, daily medication may not be warranted.
Lifestyle changes may help minimize the risk of a cluster headache flare. Stopping smoking and minimizing alcohol may prevent future episodes of cluster headache.
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Coeliac Disease And Gluten Sensitivity
Coeliac disease is a serious condition where a persons immune system reacts when they eat gluten and causes damage to the lining of their gut. When this happens, they have symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating, vomiting and stomach cramps. There can also be serious complications if it is not treated, such as anaemia. There is no cure for coeliac disease and people with it need to avoid gluten all their life.
There have been studies into the link between coeliac disease and migraine. There is no evidence to suggest that coeliac disease causes migraine. It is thought that if people with coeliac disease and migraine follow a gluten-free diet, this may help with both of their conditions.
Gluten sensitivity is when a person has a bad reaction if they eat gluten. They may have similar symptoms to coeliac disease, but there is no damage to the lining of their gut or the risk of serious complications that can happen with coeliac disease.
Gluten is found in foods that contain wheat, barley or rye. These include pasta, bread, cakes, some sauces and most ready meals.
One of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity is headache. But there is no evidence that gluten sensitivity causes migraine. However, if you are sensitive to gluten, you may find that if you eat food containing gluten, it makes migraine attacks more likely or the symptoms more painful.
The Truth About Agonising Migraines
MIGRAINES are a common headache that affect millions of people around the world.
There are a number of reasons why we might get a migraine but not many people know why they keep coming back.
The Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 lists migraine as one of only eight chronic medical conditions to affect more than 10 per cent of the population worldwide.
The NHS says that one in every five women and around one in every 15 men experience migraines.
Speaking to The Sun Dr Richard Day explained that a migraine is a complex syndrome which can be divided into four distinct phases.
The medical adviser, who studies medical sciences and medicine said first there is the pro-drome, which includes constipation or diarrhoea sometimes followed by an aura.
Dr Day who is an adviser at BioKult said that this is when the headaches come along, with general feelings of discomfort and tummy problems.
He explained: The exact mechanisms that underpin the development of migraine are yet to be fully understood.
Recent clinical trials using advanced MRI and PET scans have shown that changes in blood flow within the brain occur during the aura phase of a migraine.
While the headache phase has been shown to involve the activation of nerves in the head and face which lead to the release of neurotransmitters causing inflammation of the cerebral blood vessels and irritation of the protective tissues surrounding the brain.
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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.
What Is A Migraine Attack And How Do You Manage It
Migraine is the leading cause of disability in people aged 15 to 49, yet this brain disease is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed. Heres what you need to know.
I was a teenager when I had my first migraine attack. I was sitting in my sunny living room and I started to see spots. Bright and iridescent, they gradually morphed into a swirling pattern that spread across the left side of my vision. I couldnt see past it, and I had no idea what was happening to me.
The episode soon passed, but it was followed by a throbbing headache. My mom instantly recognized the signs of migrainesomething she was all too familiar with.
Over the years, I had the odd migraine attack, but nothing I couldnt manage with a nap and some ibuprofen. But after I had kids, my attacks increased, and I developed some concerningand confusingsymptoms.
I became painfully sensitive to noise and had bouts of tinnitus , but ear exams showed nothing. I had dizzy spells and thought my thyroid medication needed adjusting, but my bloodwork was normal. I was often exhausted, but I blamed it on parenting. Ditto for my anxiety and depression, which were at an all-time high.
Then I started getting pins and needles in the side of my face, along with tingling in my arm, tightness in my chest, and heart palpitations. After two visits to the ER and a full cardiology workup, I was assured that my heart was healthy. I was relieved, but mystified. What was going on with me?
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What Are The Symptoms Of Migraines
The primary symptom of migraine is a headache. Pain is sometimes described as pounding or throbbing. It can begin as a dull ache that develops into pulsing pain that is mild, moderate or severe. If left untreated, your headache pain will become moderate to severe. Pain can shift from one side of your head to the other, or it can affect the front of your head, the back of your head or feel like its affecting your whole head. Some people feel pain around their eye or temple, and sometimes in their face, sinuses, jaw or neck.
Other symptoms of migraine headaches include:
- Sensitivity to light, noise and odors.
- Nausea and vomiting, upset stomach and abdominal pain.
- Loss of appetite.
- Feeling very warm or cold .
- Pale skin color .
- Euphoric mood.
What Are The Treatments For Migraine
There is no absolute cure for migraine. However, lots of treatments are available to help ease the symptoms of a migraine attack.
When a migraine attack occurs, most people find that lying down in a quiet, dark room is helpful. Sleeping can also help. Some people find that their symptoms die down after they have vomited .
Most people affected by migraine will already have tried paracetamol, aspirin and perhaps anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen before they seek advice from their doctor. If ordinary painkillers alone are not relieving your symptoms, your GP might prescribe you a triptan to be taken in addition to over-the-counter painkillers . Triptans are available in different forms to suit individuals , although it is important to note that some people develop short-term side effects when taking triptans. Your doctor may also prescribe you anti-sickness medication. If your situation does not improve after treatment, you might be referred to a specialist migraine clinic.
It is important to avoid taking painkillers on more than two days per week or more than 10 days per month as this can in fact make things worse by triggering medication overuse headaches.
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How Disabling Is Migraine
Migraine is the worlds third most common ailment and the leading cause of disability in those aged 15 to 49.
In the peak productive years of most peoples lives and careers, this is the most disabling condition, says Dr. Christine Lay, a Professor of Neurology and the founding director of the Headache Program at the University of Toronto.
Three times as many women as men suffer from migraine. Our migraines also last longer, happen more often, and are more intense. More women experience nausea, aura, and sensitivity to light and sound.
Despite being such a common and disabling disease, migraine is sorely misunderstoodeven by physicians. According to Lay, close to 50 percent of patients with migraine are misdiagnosed they are often told they have a tension or vascular headache and dont receive appropriate treatment. Among those who are accurately diagnosed, half are given the wrong therapyor their treatment isnt adjusted when it needs to be. She says its critical for doctors to be educated about the disorder.
In medical school, the average doctor will receive only four to six hours of teaching in headache, says Lay, Yet migraine is one of the most disabling health conditions.
Because of this misunderstanding, migraineurs often lack the support and empathy they need.
As a result, people try to power through their migraine attacks. But migraine can make it impossible to get work doneand causes an even greater loss of productivity than calling in sick.
What Are Some Ways I Can Prevent Migraine
The best way to prevent migraine is to find out what triggers your attacks and avoid or limit these triggers. Since migraine headaches are more common during times of stress, finding healthy ways to cut down on and cope with stress might help. Talk with your doctor about starting a fitness program or taking a class to learn relaxation skills.
Talk with your doctor if you need to take your pain-relief medicine more than twice a week. Doing so can lead to rebound headaches. If your doctor has prescribed medicine for you to help prevent migraine, take them exactly as prescribed. Ask what you should do if you miss a dose and how long you should take the medicine. Talk with your doctor if the amount of medicine you are prescribed is not helping your headaches.
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Common Causes Of Migraines
The trigeminal nerve in your head runs your eyes and mouth. It also helps you feel sensations in your face and is a major pathway for pain. Your levels of a chemical called serotonin may fall at the start of a migraine, and this nerve can release chemicals called neurotransmitters that travel to your brain and cause pain.
What Are The Stages Of A Migraine
There are four stages of migraines, prodrome, aura, headache and post-drome.
There are four stages of migraines, prodrome, aura, headache and post-drome.
Below are the symptoms for each, as shared by the Mayo Clinic.
- Mood changes, from depression to euphoria
- Food cravings
- Visual phenomena, such as seeing various shapes, bright spots or flashes of light
- Vision loss
- Pins and needles sensations in an arm or leg
- Weakness or numbness in the face or one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking
- Uncontrollable jerking or other movements
- Pain on one side or both sides of your head
- Pain that feels throbbing or pulsing
- Sensitivity to light, sounds, and sometimes smells and touch
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lightheadedness, sometimes followed by fainting
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What Treatment Can I Take
Drugs can be very effective at controlling migraine symptoms but not all pain-killers are equal.
Medications from the aspirin and Ibuprofen family work better than Paracetamol, and codeine is best avoided. A family of migraine specific painkillers known as Triptans also work well and probably work by reversing the changes in the brain that cause migraines.
The most important thing is to act quickly. There is a window of opportunity during a migraine attack before the stomach stops working effectively when any drugs you take will not be absorbed properly. To help your stomach absorb the medicines better, take a large dose of the painkiller and try to choose a soluble form which you can dissolve. Adding an anti-sickness drug, such as domperidone 10mg not only stops you feeling sick, but helps the medication be absorbed by reversing this gastric stasis.
If the drugs do not work individually, taking them all together as soon as possible at the start of the attack can be effective: e.g. taking sumatriptan, ibuprofen and domperidone at the same time .
Even more important for prevention is dealing with the migraine triggers, the lifestyle choices, which can really improve migraine. These are listed above.
What Are The Side Effects Of Migraine Treatment
Preventive medication does not always stop the headaches completely and medications may lead to certain side-effects.
- Topiramate may cause diarrhoea, nausea, weight loss, memory difficulties and concentration problems.
- Triptans can cause sleepiness, tingling sensations, tightness in the throat and chest, flushing.
- Ergotamines can cause nausea,
- Beta-blockers can cause depression, fatigue, nausea, low blood pressure, dizziness
- Calcium channel blockers can lead to constipation, weight gain, low blood pressure, dizziness
- Tricyclic antidepressants can cause to dry mouth, weight gain, low libido, sedation
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What Are Secondary Headaches
Secondary headaches are those that are due to an underlying structural or infectious problem in the head or neck. This is a very broad group of medical conditions ranging from dental pain from infected teeth or pain from an infected sinus, to life-threatening conditions like bleeding in the brain or infections like encephalitis or meningitis.
Traumatic headaches fall into this category including post-concussion headaches.
This group of headaches also includes those headaches associated with substance abuse and excess use of medications used to treat headaches . “Hangover” headaches fall into this category as well. People who drink too much alcohol may waken with a well-established headache due to the effects of alcohol and dehydration.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Migraine
A migraine attack happens in stages and lasts from a few hours to several days. The symptoms vary depending on the stage:Prodrome: This early stage can include a host of symptoms: fatigue, uncontrollable yawning, insomnia, nausea, gastrointestinal upset, neck stiffness, food cravings, tinnitus, and sensitivity to light and sound. Anxiety and depression are also common. The prodrome is the best time to treat a migraine attack, but it can be hard to pinpoint since many of the symptoms can be caused by other issues.
Aura: Roughly a quarter of migraineurs experience aura. It can start with spots in the visual field, which gradually spreadusually on one side. People describe seeing shimmering lights, geometric patterns, and zigzag lines. Aura can be particularly alarmingespecially if youre in publicbecause it blocks your vision. Some people also experience sensory phenomena like a tingling hand or arm. This phase lasts from five minutes to an hour and usually precedes the headache, but the two can happen simultaneously.Headache: A migraine headache is typically a throbbing pain on one side of the head, which sometimes spreads to other areas. The headache can also be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, insomnia, anxiety, and sensitivity to light, sound, and smell. This phase lasts from four to 72 hours. While this is the most well-known symptom, some people dont experience the headache phase at all, or not with every attack.
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