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What To Do During Migraine Attack

Theories About Migraine Pain

Things to Do During a MIGRAINE // Relief, Productivity, and Entertainment during a Migraine Attack

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.

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.

Symptom Relief During Migraine Attacks

A variety of treatments and medications, which are suitable for adults and children, are available to reduce the acute symptoms during a migraine attack. These include:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

These include medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin. They can be purchased over the counter or prescribed, depending on the type and strength. NSAIDs are helpful in reducing headache pain their anti-inflammatory properties can relieve the migraineâs characteristic throbbing/pulsing sensation.

However NSAIDs are not suitable for daily use, as they can cause complications, including gastrointestinal disorders. People who experience frequent migraine attacks and need regular pain relief should consult their doctor to ensure that their use of NSAIDs is appropriate. An alternative painkiller that is safe for ongoing use may be prescribed.

Triptan medications

These medications work by making blood vessels constrict and blocking pain pathways in the brain, which is thought to be a causal factor of migraines. They are often prescribed if OTC or prescription NSAIDs have proved ineffective for treating headache pain and work by imitating the action of a brain chemical called 5-hydroxytryptamine , also known as serotonin, which reduces inflammation and constricts the widened blood vessels associated with a migraine attack.

Ergotamine medications

Also Check: Does Excedrin Migraine Contain Ibuprofen

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.

Women And Migraine Disease

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Female hormone fluctuations, the oral contraceptive, menopause and pregnancy may affect migraine.

  • Migraine attacks often happen around your period or at other regular times of your cycle .
  • Many women find migraine disappears during pregnancy.
  • Oral contraceptives containing oestrogen may change migraine frequency.
  • Some women get migraine during menopause.

Non-migraine headache is also a common feature of pre-menstrual syndrome.

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Can Migraines Be Prevented

You can’t prevent every migraine. But learning your triggers and trying to avoid them can help. Take a break from activities that might start a migraine, such as using the computer for a long time. If you know that some foods are triggers, skip them. Some people find that cutting back on caffeine or drinking a lot of water can help prevent migraines.

Make a plan for all the things you have to do especially during stressful times like exams so you don’t feel overwhelmed when things pile up. Regular exercise also can reduce stress and make you feel better.

The more you understand about your headaches, the better prepared you can be to fight them.

How To Avoid Migraines At Work

More important than treating migraines once they come on is avoiding episodes to begin with, says Diamond. That means taking steps to adjust your work routine and office environment as much as possible in order to mitigate the specific factors that prompt episodes.

Ultimately lifestyle plays a role, and so we talk about the migraine brain being more irritable, says Diamond. It doesnt like change. Establishing solid routines and sticking to them can be an important factor in avoiding migraines, she says. That means waking up and going to sleep at a regular time every night, staying hydrated, keeping daytime naps relatively short and not skipping meals.

Some people who experience migraines may want to avoid fluorescent lighting, as bright light can trigger their headaches. So can strong odors for some patientsso if a colleague uses strong-smelling perfume or aftershave that triggers your symptoms, that might call for a respectful conversation between co-workers.

You might not be able to change everything about your work environment to avoid migraines, but its important to adjust what you can control to make episodes less likely to occur.

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Q How Often Can Migraines Occur Per Month

A. There is no set answer for this because it depends on many things. If you tend to do things that trigger migraines then you will get many migraine attacks every month. However, if you take preventative measures then you might be less prone to migraine attacks. Some people get a migraine attack a month while others experience migraine attacks weekly.

What To Do When You Have A Migraine Attack

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A migraine attack may strike without notice. Fortunately, the sooner an individual identifies the signs of a migraine attack, the sooner he or she can take the necessary steps to address migraine pain.

Migraine symptoms vary from person to person. Common migraine symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Changes in vision

If an individual experiences one or more of the aforementioned symptoms, a migraine attack may be underway. In this scenario, there are several things a person can do to alleviate migraine pain, such as:

It may be beneficial to keep a migraine diary, too. Migraine pain typically lasts between two hours and three days. If a person finds he or she experiences migraines regularly, a migraine diary enables this individual to log the exact date and time of his or her migraine attacks. Then, this individual can provide his or her migraine diary to a primary care doctor or neurologist as part of a migraine evaluation.

If an individual receives a migraine diagnosis, he or she may be prescribed different types of migraine medications. These medications generally fall into three categories:

For chronic migraine sufferers who find their current medications fail to deliver the desired results, Dr. Cabin can help. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Cabin, please contact us today at 310.461.0303.

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When Should I Call An Ambulance

Most headaches are not serious. But headaches can also be a sign of a serious illness, such as a stroke or meningitis.

  • it comes on suddenly, is very severe, or has made you lose consciousness
  • you have suffered a head injury
  • you have trouble seeing, walking or speaking
  • your arms or legs feel numb
  • you have nausea or vomiting
  • you have a high fever
  • you are sensitive to light and have a new rash

Keep Your Rescue Medication Easily Accessible

If you use acute rescue medications, take time when youre not in the middle of an attack to organize them to be easily accessible.

This might mean putting together a migraine first aid kit or stocking a drawer in your bedside table with meds, nausea-friendly snacks, and water bottles.

If you live with others, it can be helpful to show them where you keep things and what you need in the middle of an attack.

One thing that has not changed in my decade of living with migraine is the advice from every neurologist echoing that the sooner the treatments are administered, the more effective they are.

Knowing how crucial this timing is, Im careful to not leave the house without a mini migraine first aid kit on hand that includes my rescue medications.

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What Is An Aura

An aura is a group of sensory, motor and speech symptoms that usually act like warning signals that a migraine headache is about to begin. Commonly misinterpreted as a seizure or stroke, it typically happens before the headache pain, but can sometimes appear during or even after. An aura can last from 10 to 60 minutes. About 15% to 20% of people who experience migraines have auras.

Aura symptoms are reversible, meaning that they can be stopped/healed. An aura produces symptoms that may include:

  • Seeing bright flashing dots, sparkles, or lights.
  • Blind spots in your vision.
  • Numb or tingling skin.

What Should You Do In Case Of An Immediate Migraine Attack

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Migraine is a severe nerve condition that can affect either side or half of the head. The resulting headache is excruciating. Read on to view the full details…

Migraine is another sort of headache, although it is not the same as a regular headache. It is a severe nerve condition that can affect either side or half of the head. The resulting headache is excruciating. It is as if someone is pounding on the interior of your skull.

Migraine attacks disrupt one’s daily routine and make one irritable. When a migraine attacks, a person requires relief. For people in Mumbai, there is good news that they can receive the most-effective migraine treatment by consulting Dr. Gurneet Sawhney, one of the leading neurosurgeons in Mumbai, India.

Moreover, Dr. Sawhney can assist you in receiving the best migraine treatment by thoroughly examining your condition. In addition to consulting with the best neurosurgeon in Mumbai, India, follow some helpful tips to alleviate the migraine attack.

In this article, we will go through what to do if you have a migraine attack.

Read Also: How To Fake A Migraine To A Doctor

Make Your Shower Migraine Friendly

Two words: shower stool. I never thought Id own a shower stool in my 20s, but here we are!

One of the most effective ways for me to find temporary pain relief is to let hot water wash over my throbbing head and eyes. A shower stool makes this possible and comfortable, even when Im really struggling.

I spent years sitting on the shower floor during migraine attacks never a pleasant experience and wish I had discovered this tool sooner.

There are inexpensive, compact versions easily available online. Depending on your sensitivity to smells, it can also be helpful to put a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil on the shower floor.

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.

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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.

Treatments For Preventing Headache Attacks

Symptoms and Stages Of A Migraine

Behavioral changes that are recommended for preventing migraine attacks include:

  • Developing techniques to manage and reduce stress, such as deep breathing exercises and regular physical activity
  • Keeping a diary to identify migraine triggers, such as exposure to strong smells, which can then be avoided if possible
  • Sleeping well, and establishing a consistent sleep cycle
  • Staying hydrated, by drinking water and other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages throughout the day
  • Establishing regular meal times, and adopting a healthy, balanced diet
  • Devising a new medication plan with oneâs doctor, if any medications which a person takes regularly are thought to be causing the headaches
  • Following a safe weight-loss programme is recommended, for obese people affected by migraine headaches

In some cases, particularly if a person has more than two headache episodes per month, medication may be prescribed to prevent migraine headaches. The medications that have been found most effective at migraine prevention include:

  • Anticonvulsant medications, such as those used to treat epilepsy
  • Non-selective beta-receptor blocking agents, such as those used to treat high blood pressure
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • OnabotulinumtoxinA injections are approved by the FDA as a treatment for chronic migraine

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What Happens To Me During A Migraine

Headaches are an unfortunate part of life, but for roughly 15% of the population, headaches are just the tip of the iceberg. Migraine headaches can bring a whole new level of pain into your life, with debilitating side effects which are often reoccurring problems, growing stronger with every new attack. But why do some of us find ourselves suffering over and over with migraine headaches while others have never had a single attack and what exactly is happening inside our bodies when a migraine strikes?

How Are Migraines Treated

Migraine headaches are chronic. They cant be cured, but they can be managed and possibly improved. There are two main treatment approaches that use medications: abortive and preventive.

  • Abortive medications are most effective when you use them at the first sign of a migraine. Take them while the pain is mild. By possibly stopping the headache process, abortive medications help stop or decrease your migraine symptoms, including pain, nausea, light sensitivity, etc. Some abortive medications work by constricting your blood vessels, bringing them back to normal and relieving the throbbing pain.
  • Preventive medications may be prescribed when your headaches are severe, occur more than four times a month and are significantly interfering with your normal activities. Preventive medications reduce the frequency and severity of the headaches. Medications are generally taken on a regular, daily basis to help prevent migraines.

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What Causes Migraine Attacks

Migraine genes set the brain to be less able to process sensory inputs and make the brain vulnerable to attacks. But that is not the whole story.

Epigenetics, the interaction of genes with our behaviours and environment, is important too. The more the brain is challenged by these stimuli, the more pain neurochemicals are produced. Migraine threshold theory suggests that combinations of changes irritate the brain and trigger attacks once pain neurochemicals reach a certain level.

Change is the key word. The migraine brain is more sensitive to internal body changes, such as blood sugar levels, sleep routines, hormones or stress, and external environment factors light glare, strong visual patterns like stripes, stuffy air quality, and even weather.

Some things seem to be particularly likely to lead to attacks. Skipping meals leading to fluctuating blood glucose levels is one. Regular snacking may help. People with migraine are often sensitive to carbohydrates though, so low GI foods are preferable. Broken or extended sleep can aggravate attacks this is especially hard for teenagers, who wake early for school but then lie in at weekends.

Any type of change can lead to attacks worsening a new job, moving house, travelling abroad. But so can stress reduction. Let-down or weekend migraine attacks are commonly described frustrating for people relaxing after a stressful time.

About the author Dr Katy Munro

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