Migraine More Common Than Cluster Headache
More people have likely heard of migraine than of cluster headaches because migraine is much more common. The National Headache Foundation reports that more than 37 million Americans have migraine. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraine is the third most prevalent illness in the world.
Cluster headaches, on the other hand, are rarer, affecting between an estimated 200,000 and one million Americans, according to Eileen Brewer, president of the patient advocacy group Clusterbusters, speaking to the American Migraine Foundation.
What About Menstrual Migraines Morning Migraines
If you’re wondering: where is Hormonal Migraine? Morning Migraine? Complex Migraine? Well, these technically aren’t official Migraine types anymore, according to the IHS. I asked Peter Goadsby, MD, one of the top doctors influencing IHS and AHS policies why these new terms were adopted.
His explanation: the World Health Organization needed a common language to define all the Migraine sub-types so that doctors and patients around the world could compare notes and exchange data. That seems like a very good idea.
If you suffer from Menstrual Migraine attacks three days before every period, you can keep calling that. Ditto for Weather-Related Migraine and Morning Migraine, the kind that wrecks your day before it even starts. As Migraine Warriors, we tend to think of the occasions when attacks occur and major symptoms to name our pain.
Personally, I discovered after decades of suffering from Chronic Migraine without Aura that my own pain didn’t start at 23, but instead at 12 with Abdominal Migraine complications and a Migralepsy seizure.
What To Expect At Your Office Visit
Your provider will take a medical history and will examine your head, eyes, ears, nose, throat, neck, and nervous system.
Your provider will ask many questions to learn about your headaches. Diagnosis is usually based on your history of symptoms.
Tests may include:
- Blood tests or a lumbar puncture if you may have an infection
- Head CT scan or MRI if you have any danger signs or you have been having headaches for a while
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Brain Function And Blood Flow
Some research suggests that a temporary disturbance in brain function, or cortical spreading depression , may be linked to migraine with aura.
CSD can disrupt the brains electrical impulses and, in turn, decrease blood flow to the part of the brain that deals with visual perception. However, scientists still do not fully understand why people with migraine with aura experience spontaneous CSD or how to prevent it.
One 2010 study also states that changes in blood flow to the brain may be the cause of migraine and stroke in certain people.
It is possible that a person who develops an increasing number of migraine with aura episodes may have experienced some change that affects blood flow to their brain.
Is Your Treatment Working
After you have treated two or three headaches, ask yourself some simple questions. Are you getting the relief you need? If not, you should ask your doctor about altering treatment. Be sure you take medications early in the attack — at least within two hours of migraine pain. If medications are not working, your doctor may prescribe use of an external medical device that stimulates the trigeminal nerve, the vagus nerve or nerves in the back of the head that are linked to migraines.
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Learn More About Each Stage Of A Migraine:
One or two days before a migraine, you might notice subtle changes that warn of an upcoming migraine, including constipation, mood changes from depression to euphoria, food cravings, neck stiffness, increased thirst and urination or frequent yawning.
For some people, aura might occur before or during migraines. Auras are reversible symptoms of the nervous system. They’re usually visual, but they also can include other disturbances. Each symptom usually begins gradually, builds up over several minutes and lasts 20 minutes to one hour.
Examples of auras include:
- 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
A migraine usually lasts from four to 72 hours if untreated, and the frequency varies by the person. Migraines might occur rarely or strike several times a month.
During a migraine, you might have:
- Pain, usually on one side of your head, but often on both sides
- Pain that throbs or pulses
- Sensitivity to light, sound, and sometimes smell and touch
- Nausea and vomiting
After a migraine attack, you might feel drained, confused and washed out for up to a day. Some people report feeling elated. Sudden head movement might bring on pain again briefly.
Learn more about headaches:
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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What Can I Do To Prevent Migraines
One of the best ways to prevent migraines is to try to avoid the things that might trigger your attacks. Most people benefit from trying to get stable sleep, eating regular meals, drinking plenty of fluids to keep hydrated, and trying to manage stress. Taking regular exercise may also help prevent migraines since it helps with breathing, improving blood sugar balance and maintaining general wellbeing. Although you should take care not to engage in very strenuous activity that your body is not used to as this can sometimes act as a migraine trigger.
Keeping a diary of your migraines can be a useful way to record when and where you experience attacks, check for any patterns, and try to identify your triggers. Take the diary when you see your GP so you can communicate your symptoms with them and they can find the best way to help you.
Is It A Migraine Attack Or A Cluster Headache
Migraine and cluster headaches have different symptoms and require different treatments.
Whether youre having a migraine attack or a cluster headache, the pain it causes can be debilitating.
But because the treatments for the two diseases are very different, its crucial to figure out which you have or whether you have something else entirely to have the best chance at easing your pain.
Without the correct diagnosis, its difficult to find relief for your headache, says Merle L. Diamond, MD, associate director of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago.
Heres what you need to know about the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for these two different types of headaches.
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Treatment: Triptans Or Ditans
Triptans and ditans are the most common medications prescribed for migraine headaches. They are most effective when taken early in an attack. They include almotriptan, eletriptan , frovatriptan , lasmiditan , naratriptan , rizatriptan and sumatriptan and zolmitriptan . People with high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and other conditions may not be able to take triptans. And because of possible serious drug interactions, you should talk to your doctor about other medications you take, such as antidepressants or anti-seizure drugs. Side effects of triptans include nausea, dizziness, tingling, numbness, and chest pain.
Treating Migraine With Aura
When a person begins experiencing aura symptoms, it can be helpful to move into a quiet, dark room and close the eyes. Placing a cold compress on the forehead or the back of the neck may also help ease migraine pain.
There are three main areas of treatment for migraine with aura. These are as follows:
- lifestyle and trigger management
- acute treatments, such as medications to stop a migraine episode while it is happening or reduce its severity or duration
- These include analgesics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, gepants, and ditans.
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Tracking Your Migraine Symptoms
Keeping a record of your migraine symptoms may help you figure out patterns and triggers to your attacks. It may be helpful to record such things as:
- When and where your pain or symptoms start
- Whether the pain spreads to your entire head or neck
- How well and how quickly acute treatment helps reduce the pain or other symptoms
- How long your pain or symptoms last
- Whether you experience other symptoms such as vision changes, nausea, or light sensitivity
Trigger: Lack Of Food Or Sleep
It’s important for people prone to migraine headaches to have a regular pattern of meals and sleep. Low blood sugar from skipping meals can trigger a migraine. Eating too much sugar also can cause a spike, then a “crash” in blood sugar. Drink water throughout the day to avoid dehydration and sleep at least six to eight hours a night.
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What Does It Mean When You Have A Headache On One Side Of Your Head
There are few things that can shut down your entire day and everything you planned to do like a bad headache. While some are minor and can be tackled by popping an aspirin, drinking some water, and eating a snack, others are much more severe and require medical intervention to treat. While minor headaches often have causes like lack of sleep, lack of hydration, too much alcohol, or caffeine withdrawal, some headaches are symptomatic of an actual medical condition. If you have severe headaches that focus on one particular side of your head, there are a few things that could be going on, and you should definitely speak to your healthcare provider to determine which type of headache you’re having so that you can properly take them on and reduce your symptoms and occurrences. Much more is known now about the various types of headaches, and treatment options are always expanding.
How Is Migraine Pain Treated
Migraine pain can be treated with several different types of drugs. Acute treatments are drugs taken at the first signs of an attack to reduce the severity and length of the migraine.2
Mild pain may be controlled with over-the-counter pain relievers. This includes aspirin, acetaminophen, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen or ibuprofen.2
Prescription drugs called triptans may be needed to control pain that does not improve with over-the-counter pain relievers. Triptans can be delivered by capsule, tablet, nasal spray, skin patch, or injection. Some of the brand names of triptans include Alsuma, Frova, Maxalt, and Zomig.2
Your doctor may also prescribe drugs to help prevent migraine. Drugs used to prevent migraine include beta-blockers, antidepressants, anti-seizure medicines, and calcium channel blockers. Among natural remedies, the herb feverfew has been the most studied. Some studies found it helps prevent migraine but most experts feel it does not.2
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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.
Can Using Birth Control Pills Make My Migraines Worse
In some women, birth control pills improve migraine. The pills may help reduce the number of attacks and their attacks may become less severe. But in other women, the pills may worsen their migraines. In still other women, taking birth control pills has no effect on their migraines.
The reason for these different responses is not well understood. For women whose migraines get worse when they take birth control pills, their attacks seem to occur during the last week of the cycle. This is because the last seven pills in most monthly pill packs don’t have hormones they are there to keep you in the habit of taking your birth control daily. Without the hormones, your body’s estrogen levels drop sharply. This may trigger migraine in some women.
Talk with your doctor if you think birth control pills are making your migraines worse. Switching to a pill pack in which all the pills for the entire month contain hormones and using that for three months in a row can improve headaches. Lifestyle changes, such as getting on a regular sleep pattern and eating healthy foods, can help too.
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What Is The Main Cause Of Migraines
The exact cause of migraines remains a mystery. However, several factors are associated with migraines. Some of the factors are:
- Migraines happen due to changes in the blood supply to the brain accompanied by inflammation, according to the neurovascular theory.
- Migraines may be due to changes in the level of a chemical in the brain called serotonin. Low levels of serotonin cause the vessels that supply blood to the brain to swell up. This leads to pain and other symptoms of a migraine.
- Genes also play a role in causing migraines. Around 70% of migraine patients report their parents, grandparents or siblings suffer from migraines.
- The higher occurrence of migraines in women suggests the role of hormones in causing migraines.
Other factors causing migraine events are:
- Exposure to bright or fluorescent lighting
- Strong odors
- Fasting or skipping meals
- Red wine
- Certain foods and food additives , citrus fruits, aged cheese, meats with nitrites)
Causes And Triggers Of Migraine Versus Cluster Headaches
Genetics play a significant role in migraine. If one or both of a persons parents have migraine, theres a 50 to 75 percent chance that they will, too, according to the American Migraine Foundation.
Genetics are believed to less strongly influence the occurrence of cluster headaches but are suspected to be involved in about 10 percent of people with cluster headache, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders .
The underlying cause of cluster headache is not known. The direct cause of pain is thought to be a result of blood vessels dilatating and creating pressure on the trigeminal nerve, says NORD.
Alcohol may trigger both types of headaches, but migraine attacks may also be triggered by hormonal fluctuation and relaxation after stress, says Richard Lipton, MD, a professor and vice chairman of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and director of the Montefiore Headache Center, both in New York City.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Migraine
The main symptoms of migraine are an intense, throbbing or pounding headache often affecting the front or one side of the head, nausea and sometimes vomiting , and an increased sensitivity to light smells and sound. The throbbing headache is often made worse by the person moving.
Other symptoms of migraine might include poor concentration, feeling hot or cold, perspiration , and an increased need to pass urine. This can occur before, during or after the migraine attack.
People might also experience stomach aches and diarrhoea.
It is common for people to feel tired for up to two or three days after a migraine.
Are Migraine Headaches More Common In Women Than Men
Yes. About three out of four people who have migraines are women. Migraines are most common in women between the ages of 20 and 45. At this time of life women often have more job, family, and social duties. Women tend to report more painful and longer lasting headaches and more symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting. All these factors make it hard for a woman to fulfill her roles at work and at home when migraine strikes.
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What Does A Migraine Feel Like
Migraines are not felt the same way by everyone. The usual symptoms of a migraine are:
- A severe, throbbing headache that increases with movement.
- Pain is usually limited to one side of the head, around the forehead and around the eyes. However, it can be felt anywhere around the head or neck.
- Pain builds up between one to two hours, progressively increasing and becoming more diffuse.
- A migraine headache can last for four hours to three days.
- Nausea occurs in 80% of the cases.
- Almost half of the people with a migraine complain of vomiting.
- Sensitivity or discomfort to light and sound.
The typical features of a migraine aura are:
- Aura can occur before, during or after the onset of a headache.
- An aura can also occur independently, with no relation to the headache.
- An aura usually builds up over five to 20 minutes and lasts less than an hour.
- Most commonly, visual symptoms occur during the aura. The person may report seeing flashes of light, colorful or bright shapes, shimmering spots, or loss of vision.
- Hearing various kinds of sound.
- Difficulty talking.
- Weakness or numbness of the face or one side of the body.