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 Is The Difference Between Headache And Migraine
Migraine is a type of primary headache disorder, as is tension-type headache. The cause of neither is fully understood, but both appear to involve heightened sensitivity to stimuli, whether pain, in the case of tension headache, or environmental changes, in the case of migraine.
While head pain is a symptom of both migraine and tension headache, migraine attacks are often accompanied by nausea and are made worse with routine physical activity, while tension-type headache is not.
In addition, headaches caused by migraine typically occur on one side of the head, while tension headaches typically affect both sides.
And migraine tends to have a pulsating or throbbing quality, while the pain of a tension-type headache is described as pressing or tightening.
Having one type of primary headache disorder doesnt rule out having another. In fact, many people have both migraine and tension-type headache.
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.
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Alternative And Complementary Therapies
In addition to medications, lifestyle changes can help you avoid certain triggers, potentially preventing some migraine attacks. Practicing relaxation exercises, such as yoga and meditation, may ease migraine pain.
While the evidence isnt definitive, some people with migraine have found that home remedies and alternative therapies such as acupuncture and biofeedback are effective. Consult with your healthcare provider to find an approach that works for you.
According to MedlinePlus, you should see your doctor if there are changes in your headache pattern, if treatments youve been using stop working, if your headaches are more severe when youre lying down, or if you have bothersome side effects from your medication.
You should call 911 if you have problems with speech, vision, movement, paralysis, or loss of balance, particularly if youve never had these symptoms before with a migraine. If your headache starts suddenly, it may be an emergency.
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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What Symptoms Must You Have To Be Diagnosed With A Migraine
Migraine with aura . This is a headache, plus:
- Visual symptoms or vision loss.
- Sensory symptoms .
Migraine without aura . A common migraine is a headache and:
- The attacks included pain on one side of your head.
- Youve had at least five attacks, each lasting between four and 72 hours.
Plus, youve experienced at least one of the following:
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Lights bother you and/or you avoid light.
- Sounds bother you and/or you avoid sounds.
Remedies To Get Rid Of Headaches Naturally
Headaches are a common condition that many people deal with on a daily basis.
Ranging from uncomfortable to downright unbearable, they can disrupt your day-to-day life.
Several types of headaches exist, with tension headaches being the most common. Cluster headaches are painful and happen in groups or clusters, while migraines are a moderate-to-severe type of headache.
Although many medications are targeted at relieving headache symptoms, a number of effective, natural treatments also exist.
Here are 18 effective home remedies to naturally get rid of headaches.
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Migraine Treatment And Home Remedies
There’s no cure for migraine headaches. But many drugs can treat or even prevent them. Common migraine treatments include:
You may ease migraine symptoms by:
- Resting with your eyes closed in a dark, quiet room
- Putting a cool compress or ice pack on your forehead
- Drinking plenty of liquids
Complementary and alternative treatments
Some people get relief with therapies they use in addition to or instead of traditional medical treatment. These are called complementary or alternative treatments. For migraine, they include:
- Biofeedback. This helps you take note of stressful situations that could trigger symptoms. If the headache begins slowly, biofeedback can stop the attack before it becomes full-blown.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy . A specialist can teach you how actions and thoughts affect how you sense pain.
- Supplements. Research has found that some vitamins, minerals, and herbs can prevent or treat migraines. These include riboflavin, coenzyme Q10, and melatonin. Butterbur may head off migraines, but it can also affect your liver enzymes.
- Body work. Physical treatments like chiropractic, massage, acupressure, acupuncture, and craniosacral therapy might ease headache symptoms.
Talk to your doctor before trying any complementary or alternative treatments.
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 Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
- Will my child grow out of their migraines?
- What medications do you recommend for me?
- What should I change about my lifestyle to prevent my migraine headaches?
- Should I get tested?
- What type of migraine do I have?
- What can my friends and family do to help?
- Are my migraines considered chronic?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Migraine headaches can be devastating and make it impossible to go to work, school or experience other daily activities. Fortunately, there are some ways to possibly prevent a migraine and other ways to help you manage and endure the symptoms. Work with your healthcare provider to keep migraines from ruling your life.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/03/2021.
What Are The Common Symptoms Of Migraine
How can you tell if your head pain is actually migraine? The symptoms vary from person to person. But if you agree with some or many of the statements below, your head pain may be migraine and you should think about seeing a doctor.
- Your head pain is moderate or severe and often intense. The pain may be hard to endure and may be unbearable.
- The pain may be on one side or the head or both. It could be in the front or in the back. Some patients experience migraine in or around their eyes and behind their cheeks.
- Your head pain causes a throbbing, pounding, or pulsating sensation.
- Your head pain gets worse with physical activity or any movement.
- You experience nausea and/or vomiting
- You are sensitive to light, noise and/or smells.
- Your head pain is severe enough to make you miss school, work or other activities .
- A migraine attack lasts anywhere from four hours to several days.
Some people have migraine with aura. The most common type of aura is visual . Aura can also cause blurred vision or loss of vision. Typically, aura occurs before the head pain of the attack begins, and fully resolves in an hour or less.
Migraine can be classified as episodic or chronic. People with episodic migraine have 14 or fewer headache days per month. People with chronic migraine experience more than 15 headache days per month with at least eight that include migraine features . In some people, episodic migraine can become chronic, which may happen if its not recognized and treated correctly.
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Abortive Prescription Drug Therapies For Migraine Headache Pain And Other Symptoms
Despite medical advances, migraines can be difficult to treat. About half of people with migraines stop seeking medical treatments for their headaches because they are dissatisfied with therapy.
This type of chronic headache can be treated with two approaches: abortive and preventive.
The goal of abortive therapy is to prevent an attack or to stop it once it starts. The prescribed medications stop a headache during its prodrome stage or once it has begun and may be taken as needed. Some can be administered as a self-injection into the thigh, wafers that melt on the tongue, or a nasal spray. These forms of medicines are especially useful for patients who vomit while experiencing the headache, and they work quickly.
Abortive migraine treatments include the triptans, which specifically target the chemical serotonin. The triptans are used only to treat headache pain and do not relieve pain from back problems, arthritis, menstruation, or other conditions.
Triptan medications include:
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.
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How Are Headaches Treated
Provided one of the serious conditions noted above is not present, relatively simple treatment options can be considered. To treat symptoms and prevent the frequency and severity of headaches, physicians may try to identify headache “triggers,” such as stress or certain foods, and recommend treatment options including:
- preventive medications and treatments.
- lifestyle changes, including stress management and relaxation techniques.
- pain-relieving medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Children and adolescents should avoid taking aspirin. In rare cases, aspirin can cause Reye Syndrome, a serious and potentially fatal condition.
If your headache is the result of an underlying medical condition or injury, your physician will discuss treatment options with you.
Can A Migraine Cause A Stroke What Are The Risk Factors
Migraine and stroke may occur at the same time, but a causal link has not been established. When an ischemic stroke occurs during a migraine attack it is called a “migrainous infarction.” The specific type of migraine associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke is migraine with aura, a type of migraine that affects about one-quarter of all people with migraines. Rarely, people with specific migraine symptoms may be related to a higher risk of stroke.
Migraines may be a risk factor for stroke, in that strokes occur more frequently in people who have had migraines, but the strokes do not necessarily occur during migraine attacks.
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Common Headache Types By Location
Back of your head or neck
Aneurysm or bleeding, called a hemorrhagic stroke
Temporomandibular joint disorder
On one side of your head
Changes In Or An Irregular Sleep Schedule
The connection between migraine and sleep is undeniable. Sleep renews and repairs all parts of the bodyincluding the brainso it makes sense that when your sleep schedule becomes irregular, you are more prone to migraine attacks. Something else to note when it comes to sleep: Nearly half of all migraine attacks occur between 4:00am and 9:00am, putting people at a greater risk for developing a sleep disorder.
How to cope: Try to go to bed at the same time every night, and aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Eliminate TV, texting, reading, and listening to music while in bed, and try your best not to nap during the day. This article from the AMF Resource Library has great information and tips on how to make a sleep plan that works with your lifestyle.
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I Get Migraines Right Before My Period Could They Be Related To My Menstrual Cycle
More than half of migraines in women occur right before, during, or after a woman has her period. This often is called “menstrual migraine.” But, just a small fraction of women who have migraine around their period only have migraine at this time. Most have migraine headaches at other times of the month as well.
How the menstrual cycle and migraine are linked is still unclear. We know that just before the cycle begins, levels of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, go down sharply. This drop in hormones may trigger a migraine, because estrogen controls chemicals in the brain that affect a woman’s pain sensation.
Talk with your doctor if you think you have menstrual migraine. You may find that medicines, making lifestyle changes, and home treatment methods can prevent or reduce the pain.
Can Using Birth Control Pills Make My Migraines Worse
In some women, 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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Medications To Treat And Prevent Migraine Attacks
Medical treatment options for migraine are twofold: drugs that work to alleviate symptoms once an attack has started and medications that prevent attacks from happening or reduce their frequency and severity.
Abortive Medications Acute, or abortive, treatments include over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription medications called triptans.
CGRP is a protein in the brain and nervous system involved in the transmission of pain and the reaction of tissues and blood vessels to that pain. It has long been implicated in the process by which migraine occurs. It is hoped that the arrival of anti-CGRP therapies will open a new era in the acute and preventive treatment of primary headache disorders, including migraine disease.
Preventive Medications Most of the medications that have a preventive, or prophylactic, effect on migraine werent developed specifically for migraine theyre primarily used for treating cardiovascular conditions, seizures, and depression.
Some pharmacological treatments that help with chronic migraine are not effective when it comes to episodic migraine. Treatment will depend on what type of migraine you have.