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 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.
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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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.
Why Do Migraines Happen
As for the other questions, migraines happen for a reason. Many migraine headaches, as discussed so many places elsewhere on our website, happen because of nerve entrapment and irritation from adjacent structures. Remember, these nerves that so often cause migraines are in the face and neck, NOT the brain itself. But why are your nerves irritated?
There are several reasons why these peripheral nerves can be irritated and can be traced down to a specific reason:
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When You Get A Migraine
Try to treat your symptoms right away. This may help make the headache less severe. When migraine symptoms begin:
- Drink water to avoid dehydration, especially if you have vomited
- Rest in a quiet, dark room
- Place a cool cloth on your head
- Avoid smoking or drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks
- Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages
- Try to sleep
Over-the-counter pain medicines, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin, are often helpful when your migraine is mild.
Your health care provider may have prescribed medicines to stop a migraine. These drugs come in different forms. They may come as a nasal spray, rectal suppository, or injection instead of pills. Other medicines can treat nausea and vomiting.
Follow your provider’s instructions about how to take all of your medicines. Rebound headaches are headaches that keep coming back. They can occur from overuse of pain medicine. If you take pain medicine more than 3 days a week on a regular basis, you can develop rebound headaches.
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.
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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
Talk To Your Doctor About Your Headache Or Migraine Concerns
The pandemic is a stressful time for many people with migraine because a lot of neurology offices and medical offices are limiting inpatient visits, says Hamilton. There are migraine patients who are unable to get procedures like Botox injections, she adds.
If youre afraid of disruption in your care, I suggest you reach out to your provider and do a telemedicine visit. Your doctor may be able to suggest an alternative if youre missing a treatment, says Hamilton. If your headaches or migraine attacks are getting significantly worse or more frequent, thats something you could discuss in a remote appointment as well, she says. COVID-19 shouldnt keep you from getting the care you need, adds Hamilton.
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When To Get Medical Advice
You should see a GP if you have frequent or severe migraine symptoms.
Simple painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, can be effective for migraine.
Try not to use the maximum dosage of painkillers on a regular or frequent basis as this could make it harder to treat headaches over time.
You should also make an appointment to see a GP if you have frequent migraines , even if they can be controlled with medicines, as you may benefit from preventative treatment.
You should call 999 for an ambulance immediately if you or someone you’re with experiences:
- paralysis or weakness in 1 or both arms or 1 side of the face
- slurred or garbled speech
- a sudden agonising headache resulting in a severe pain unlike anything experienced before
- headache along with a high temperature , stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, double vision and a rash
How Are Migraines Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask a lot of questions to see what might be causing the symptoms, and will examine you, paying particular attention to the neurological exam. He or she may ask you to keep a headache diary to help figure out what triggers your headaches. The information you record will help the doctor figure out the best treatment.
Sometimes, doctors may order blood tests or imaging tests, such as a CAT scan or MRI of the brain, to rule out medical problems that might cause a persons migraines.
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Headaches Or Migraine Attacks That Occur Following Vaccination Can Be Treated As Usual
After getting the vaccine, if a person has a headache, they can take either their regular migraine abortive drug or an over-the-counter medication to help ease any of the symptoms, says Estemalik.
There was initial concern that if you took an over-the-counter medication after your vaccine that it might make it less effective, but there isnt evidence to support that, says Strauss.
Since people can manage any headache that may come on as a side effect of the vaccine with their normal medications, I hope that takes a little of the fear away. This headache might last longer than what youre used to, but you can certainly treat it, she says.
What May Cause Headache And Fatigue
Fatigue and headache are shared symptoms of many conditions. Not all of these conditions are considered serious. However, some may require lifestyle changes or ongoing treatment.
As you consider the reasons why you may be experiencing headache and fatigue, make sure to think about your lifestyle, including your sleeping patterns, diet, and any medications youre currently taking.
Here are 16 conditions and other factors that could cause both headache and fatigue:
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What Causes A Migraine
The cause of migraine headaches is complicated and not fully understood. When you have a headache its because specific nerves in your blood vessels send pain signals to your brain. This releases inflammatory substances into the nerves and blood vessels of your head. Its unclear why your nerves do that.
Lack Of Sleep And Changes In Diet Can Trigger Migraine Attacks
Getting out of your normal routine is a big factor in the increase of headaches and migraine attacks during the pandemic, says Hamilton. I explain to my patients that the migraine brain likes things to be as steady and stable as possible, which can be especially challenging now in the time of COVID-19, she says.
For many people, the pandemic has meant changes in schedule, sleep, and eating habits all factors that can tip someone over to triggering a migraine, says Hamilton. For example, if youre not going into the office, you may be going to bed and getting up at different times and sleeping too much or too little, she says. Both sleep loss and oversleeping can trigger a headache, according to the American Migraine Foundation.
Changes in meal schedules and caffeine intake can be an issue too, according to Hamilton. She advises people to establish a regular routine for sleeping, eating, and exercising when youre working from home. Its okay if that routine is not exactly the same as what you did before you worked from home the idea is just to maintain it consistently, she says. Hamilton suggests the following tips to reduce the likelihood of a migraine attack and improve your overall well-being:
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The Influence Of Weather
According to Una Farrell, spokeswoman for The Migraine Trust, many people report that they get more migraines in summer. “It’s not necessarily the hot weather, but people can be affected by the changes in air pressure during the summer months,” she says.
When spells of hot weather are accompanied by thunderstorms and lightning, she adds, people who get migraines often feel the barometric changes in the atmosphere – a sign that a migraine is afoot.
The association between headaches – migraine headaches in particular – and weather has been researched fairly extensively, with mixed results. One 2015 study in the USA found that a small group of migraine sufferers were affected by weather, but overall, no significant correlation was observed.
Another study of migraine patients found some evidence of a link between their perception of temperature as a trigger, and headache incidence. However, those who reported they were triggered by temperature tended to get more headaches in winter, not summer.
Are headaches and migraines more common in summer?
How Long Is Too Long For A Migraine
How long is too long for a migraine? A typical migraine lasts between four and 72 hours. If a migraine lasts longer than 72 hours, it is paramount to consult with a doctor. Also, if a person experiences 15 or more headache days per month, a doctor may diagnose this individual with chronic migraines.
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How Can I Tell If I Have A Migraine Or A Sinus Headache
Many people confuse a sinus headache with a migraine because pain and pressure in the sinuses, nasal congestion, and watery eyes often occur with migraine. To find out if your headache is sinus or migraine, ask yourself these questions:
In addition to my sinus symptoms, do I have:
If you answer yes to two or three of these questions, then most likely you have migraine with sinus symptoms. A true sinus headache is rare and usually occurs due to sinus infection. In a sinus infection, you would also likely have a fever and thick nasal secretions that are yellow, green, or blood-tinged. A sinus headache should go away with treatment of the sinus infection.
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.
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What Is The Prognosis For People With Migraines
Migraines are unique to each individual. Likewise, how migraines are managed is also unique. The best outcomes are usually achieved by learning and avoiding personal migraine triggers, managing symptoms, practicing preventive methods, following the advice of your healthcare provider and reporting any significant changes as soon as they occur.
New Or Worsening Triggers
People can also have different sensitivities to their environment that could cause migraine symptoms to increase in frequency over time.
There are several common triggers that a person may become more sensitive to or experience more frequently. According to the American Migraine Foundation, some common migraine triggers include:
- changes in the environment, such as exposure to bright light
- alcohol consumption
- overusing medications
- certain smells
Exposure to new potential triggers or changes in habits could cause more frequent and sudden migraine with aura episodes.
It is important for a person to keep a record of their headaches and symptoms to help identify possible new triggers that may be causing the episodes to occur.
It may not always be possible to prevent chronic migraine, but there are some steps a person can take to help reduce their severity or duration.
For example, that most treatment plans should include avoiding known triggers and taking preventive medications as prescribed.
Some other things a person can do to help prevent episodes include:
- making certain changes to their diet to include more healthful foods and avoid processed foods
- limiting caffeine and alcohol intake
- practicing activities and exercises that encourage relaxation, such as deep breathing and yoga
- maintaining a consistent sleep routine
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