When To Worry About A Headache
You can take care of many types of headaches by yourself, and your doctor can give you medication to control most of the tougher headaches. But some headaches call for prompt medical care. Here are some warning signs for when you should worry about headaches:
- Headaches that first develop after age 50
- A major change in the pattern of your headaches
- An unusually severe headache
- Head pain that increases with coughing or movement
- Headaches that get steadily worse
- Changes in personality or mental function
- Headaches that are accompanied by fever, stiff neck, confusion, decreased alertness or memory, or neurological symptoms such as visual disturbances, slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or seizures
- Headaches that are accompanied by a painful red eye
- Headaches that are accompanied by pain and tenderness near the temples
- Headaches after a blow to the head
- Headaches that prevent normal daily activities
- Headaches that come on abruptly, especially if they wake you up
- Headaches in patients with cancer or impaired immune systems
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 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.
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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.
How To Get Rid Of A Migraine: A Step
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A migraine is much more than your typical headache. It can cause extreme pain, nausea and vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. The throbbing pain can quickly ruin your day and interfere with your life.
But you dont have to sit back and wait for a migraine to end. As long as you know how to deal with it, you can tackle it from all sides and get back to your daily life.
Take note of these simple steps, and youll be prepared the next time a migraine strikes.
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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.
Headache Intensity And Migraine Definition
Headache intensity was recorded by the diary and graded from 1 to 4: 1 = no headache; 2 = mild headache; 3 = moderate headache; and 4 = severe headache. Patients were asked to rate migraine-associated symptoms, nausea, photophobia, and phonophobia, using the same scale. The study only included migraine attacks preceded by aura, and we used the patient data to determine if the headache fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for migraine with aura. It is common for migraine symptoms to develop gradually; during the early stages of an attack these symptoms may not meet criteria for definitive diagnosis of migraine.
As the study population reported their migraine early , we did not expect their headache to have reached peak intensity.
In addition to determining if symptoms fulfilled ICHD-II criteria for migraine with aura, we also applied the following pragmatic definition for the headache to be classified as probable migraine: any headache fulfilling all of the following:
The presence of migraine aura
The patient reporting headache of any intensity
Headache associated with at least one of the following: nausea or vomiting, or photophobia and phonophobia
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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.
Migraine Nausea And Vomiting Can Be As Debilitating As The Pain Discover The Best Remedies To Stop Nausea And Feel Better Fast From Ginger Ale To Rx Meds
While there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ or ‘normal’ Migraine attack, some symptoms show up again and again during attacks. Digestive issues, especially nausea and vomiting, are extremely common Migraine symptoms.
Somewhere between 60 and 95% of people with Migraine experience migraine nausea, according to research. And about 50-60% experience vomiting during an attack.
Migraine is a neurological disorder that primarily affects the brain and central nervous system. Why, then, do so many of us experience nausea and/or vomiting along with head pain? How are the stomach and brain connected?
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Other Types Of Headaches
Doctors have diagnosed hundreds of conditions associated with headaches. Here are just a few:
Medication headaches.;Many drugs number headaches among their side effects. And although it seems paradoxical, many medications used to treat headaches can also cause medication overuse headaches or rebound headaches. Migraine sufferers are particularly vulnerable to a vicious cycle of pain leading to more medication, which triggers more pain. If you have frequent headaches and use medication, OTC or prescription, or both, for more than 10 to 15 days a month, you may have medication overuse headaches. The way to find out is to discontinue or taper your medication but always consult your doctor first. A corticosteroid such as prednisone may help control pain during the withdrawal period.
Sinus headaches.;Acute sinusitis;causes pain over the forehead, around the nose and eyes, over the cheeks, or in the upper teeth. Stooping forward increases the pain. Thick nasal discharge, congestion, and fever pinpoint the problem to the sinuses. When the acute infection resolves, the pain disappears. Sinusitis is not a common cause of chronic or recurrent headaches.
Ice cream headaches.;Some people develop sharp, sudden headache pain when they eat anything cold. The pain is over in less than a minute, even if you keep eating. If you are bothered by ice cream headaches, try eating slowly and warming the cold food at the front of your mouth before you swallow it.
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.
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Migraine Triggers: What Causes Migraines
Although there is not yet a definitive cause for migraines, researchers have noted that changes in brain chemicals, such as a decrease in the brain chemical serotonin, can trigger the condition. Other factors that may provoke a migraine include:
- Bright lights
- Alcohol or caffeinated drinks
If youre uncertain what your migraine triggers are, your doctor may ask you to keep a headache journal. Recording your activities, the foods you eat, and the medications you take before your migraine strikes may help pinpoint your migraine triggers.
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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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.
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.
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What Role Do Hormones Play In Migraine
Before age 10, boys and girls are equally affected by migraine. After puberty, however, the rate of migraine increases dramatically in girls. By the age of 17, migraine affects eight percent of boys and 23 percent of girls. We can thank the relationship between estrogen and migraine.
Migraine attacks are often triggered by the drop in estrogen that occurs before menstruation, and sometimes during ovulation. The condition usually improves during pregnancy, when estrogen levels rise. After delivery, however, estrogen levels plummetand migraine attacks resume.
For many women, migraine attacks worsenor happen for the first timeduring the hormonal rollercoaster of perimenopause. They might diminish after menopause, but that transition can take years.
During that time, women can feel much worse, says Lay. So they really need to be actively seeking out treatment that works and not just waiting it out until menopause.
Light Noise Or Smells Trigger Or Worsen Pain
In the throes of a migraine attack, the migraine sufferer tends to seek refuge in a dark, quiet place. Bright lights and loud noises can trigger a migraine or intensify the pain. The same is true of certain odors.
“Once you’ve already got a migraine, smells can seem more intense and make it worse,” Dr. Calhoun says. “But a smell can also trigger a migraine in someone who didn’t have one before walked past the perfume counter.”
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Drive With Caution Or Not At All
Common sense will tell you that if you have ocular migraine symptoms while driving, pull over and stop the car.
Make sure you have a mobile or cell phone with you to call someone to come and get you.
You can always get the car later. Or call a taxi so you can get home and rest. Resting for at least 15 minutes might help try lying down in the back seat and covering your eyes for complete darkness.
Do not attempt to operate machinery or drive while experiencing an ocular migraine.
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Pregnancy Can Have A Significant Impact On Migraine Symptoms And How Women Should Treat Them Heres What Experts Have To Say
First, the good news: Between 50 and 80% of pregnant migraine patients actually experience a reduction in migraine attacks during their pregnancy, according to David Dodick, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine in Arizona. Many doctors believe rising estrogen levels help reduce migraine frequency and intensity. Hormone replacement therapy that mimics pregnancys effect on the body is increasingly being used in migraine treatment plans, especially for those who experience migraines around the time of menstruation. Caution does need to be used however in women who have migraines with aura, as the increased risk of stroke may further be increased by the addition of an estrogen-containing oral contraceptive pill.
However, some women experience migraine for the first time during pregnancy and some experience an increase in migraine symptoms especially during the first trimester. The appearance or worsening of migraine in pregnant women should be taken very seriously: ;Studies show that migraine symptoms, when accompanied by high blood pressure, can increase the risk of developing preeclampsia or other vascular complications. Women whose migraine symptoms dont decrease during pregnancy should be particularly vigilant. Its important to work with your obstetrician and your headache doctor when you have migraine to establish a safe treatment plan.
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How Do You Treat Migraine Aura
Fortunately, most aura symptoms last for a short period of time. Triptans are not usually effective during the aura phase but some people find Aspirin can be helpful. It is important to avoid any activities that you feel may be dangerous whilst your senses are somewhat impaired.
If the aura symptoms are frequent and disturb your life significantly, there are several preventive medications that can be used to reduce the frequency and the duration of the aura attacks.