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.
The Pandemic Is A Headache And For Some People Its Causing Migraines
The familiar, all-consuming pain hit Kate Sosin in early May: a migraine.
As a chronic migraine sufferer who typically experienced full-blown attacks a couple of times a month, Sosin simply thought: Here we go again.
But the intense migraine attacks started coming more frequently, and are eating me alive, said Sosin, a 35-year-old reporter for the 19th, an online news organization. The Los Angeles resident, who uses they/them pronouns, now has three to four bad days a week despite an increase in medication and regular treatment through a headache clinic.
Since May, Ive gotten a few small breaks, but I havent been able to get it under control, they said.
Sosin isnt alone. Headache specialists say many of their patients have reported new or worsening symptoms this year an increase that is believed to be largely triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on stress, daily routines and access to care. Headaches are also the most common neurological symptom of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
If you think of a pressure cooker, its adding more steam to the pot, said Akhil Chhatre, an assistant professor of physical medicine, rehabilitation and neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Chhatre added that he has seen a dramatic uptick in both new patients and people with a history of headache disorders who say they are suffering more.
When Your Everyday Headaches Mean You Need A Doctor
If youre unable to treat your constant headache issues on your own, see your doctor. Alternative treatments are tempting, but in severe circumstances, medical intervention is absolutely essential.
Treatment options include abortive drugs that you take as needed, just as you would with an over-the-counter drug, Mauskop says. There are things like Imitrex and similar drugs in that category.What about migraines? A 2014 study published in The Journal of Headache and Pain found that Botoxyes, that Botoxreduced the number of headache and migraine days, and increased the number of headache free days while significantly improving patients quality of life.
If youre skeptical about Botox, Mauskop says that patients will soon have other options. Theres a new category of drugs coming out this summer that have been subjected to all of the phases of testing, he says. Theyre called monoclonal antibodies, and they bind to a chemical that releases the headaches for up to three months.
Monoclonal antibodies have been hailed as a breakthrough migraine therapy, and theyre part of a new class of immunotherapy treatments.
If youre truly suffering from headaches every day, doctors have a variety of ways to help patients treat severe daily headaches. If youve tried meditation, exercise, and supplementation, and even OTC pain meds arent doing a thing, get to the doctor its worth getting checked out.
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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.
What Commonly Triggers A Migraine
People who get migraines may be able to identify triggers that seem to kick off the symptoms. Some possible triggers include the following:
- Stress and other emotions
- Biological and environmental conditions, such as hormonal shifts or exposure to light or smells
- Fatigue and changes in one’s sleep pattern
- Glaring or flickering lights
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The Link Between Caffeine And Everyday Headaches
Does caffeine cause those constant headaches or does it cure them? The answer: both.
Caffeine is a double-edged sword, Mauskop says. Over-the-counter medicines often include caffeine. However, headaches can worsen as a result of withdrawal mechanisms, as every regular coffee drinker probably knows. But it can help in small amounts.
Caffeine causes the blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow, which is exactly the opposite of what happens when youre having a headache or migraine. The pain-relieving effect is significantly improved when combined with acetaminophen and aspirin, which, thankfully, are over-the-counter painkillers.
However, too much caffeine can cause a rebound effect, which can trigger a headache. If youre drinking multiple cups of coffee a day, that could be to blame if youre getting a headache every day.
The National Headache Foundation recommends a daily caffeine intake of 200 milligrams or less. If youre a regular coffee or tea drinker, you might want to monitor your intake to make sure that youre under that number. A single cup of coffee can contain anywhere from 125 to 200 milligrams, so consider switching to a half-caff or decaf option if youve got a serious habit.
Changes In The Weather
Storms, excessive heat and changes in barometric pressure are common weather-related migraine triggers that can lead to a migraine attack. High humidity and heat can easily lead to dehydration, another common trigger.
How to cope: We cant control the weather, so if the current conditions are not favorable for your migraine, stay inside or adjust your schedule accordingly. If theres an errand you need to run and its the middle of July in Arizona, take care of it in the morning before it gets too hot!
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How Do I Make Sense Of My Migraine Triggers
Rather than What triggers a migraine attack?, a more useful question is How many triggers do you need to initiate an attack?. Even your usual daily routine can include triggers that you are not aware of because you remain below the threshold of an attack until a few extra triggers crop up.
Compare your trigger diary with your attack diary and see if there was a build up of triggers during the days before each attack. You should be able to divide your list of triggers into two groups those that you can do something about and those that are out of your control . First try to deal with the triggers that you have some influence over. Cut out suspect triggers one at a time if you try to deal with them all at once you will not know which are most relevant to you. Try to compensate so that if you are having a particularly stressful time, take care to eat regularly and find ways to unwind before you go to bed. If your attacks regularly start late morning or late afternoon, look at your mealtimes. A mid morning or mid afternoon snack may be all that is necessary to prevent the attacks. Similarly if you have an early evening meal and wake with an attack, try a snack before you go to bed.
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.
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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.
When Should I See A Neurologist For Migraines
When to call a neurologist If you have severe headaches or accompanying symptoms that are disrupting your life, it might be a good idea to see a neurologist. Consider making an appointment with a neurologist if: Your headache is continuous for more than a day or two. Your headaches tend to come on suddenly.
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Who Gets Migraines What Are The Risk Factors
Its difficult to predict who may get a migraine and who may not, but there are risk factors that may make you more vulnerable. These risk factors include:
- Genetics: Up to 80% of people who get migraine headaches have a first-degree relative with the disease.
- Gender. Migraine headaches happen to women more than men, especially women between the ages of 15 and 55. Its likely more common in women because of the influence of hormones.
- Stress level. You may get migraines more often if youre high-stress. Stress can trigger a migraine.
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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What Causes Migraines
Doctors dont know exactly what causes migraines. It appears that migraine headaches may be caused in part by changes in the level of a body chemical called serotonin. Serotonin plays many roles in the body, and it can have an effect on the blood vessels. When serotonin levels are high, blood vessels constrict . When serotonin levels fall, the blood vessels dilate . This swelling can cause pain or other problems. Another aspect that is being studied is that migraine headaches go along with a spreading pattern of electrical activity in the brain.
Some research suggests there could be a heredity factor for migraines, meaning they may run in families. Researchers have identified some genes associated with migraines. They are unsure, though, why these genes seem to impact some people more than others. The American Migraine Foundation reports that if one of your parents has migraines, there is a 50% chance that you will, too. If both of your parents have migraines, your chances jump up to 75%. Ultimately, migraines seem to be caused by a combination of factors: genetic, environmental, and lifestyle.
Women are more likely to have chronic migraines . This is likely linked to hormones. Hormones fluctuate each month around the time of your period. They can also fluctuate if you are pregnant or going through menopause.
What Are Migraines
A migraine is a type of headache that recurs , and also causes other symptoms. The pain is often throbbing and can happen on one or both sides of the head. People with migraines can feel dizzy or sick to their stomachs. They may be sensitive to light, noise, or smells.
Migraines can be disabling, and teens with migraines often need to skip school, sports, work, or other activities until they feel better.
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What Is A Migraine
A migraine is not simply a bad headache. A migraine is an intense headache that may be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea , vomiting , visual problems and an increased sensitivity to light or sound.
Migraines commonly last between four hours and three days. Some people experience migraines several times a week. Others might only experience attacks every few years. If you experience headaches on 15 days or more each month, and eight of these headaches are migraines, this is known as chronic migraine.
Although migraines are not life-threatening and do not shorten peoples life expectancies, they can significantly damage the quality of peoples lives. A World Health Organisation study identified migraine as the sixth highest cause worldwide of years lost due to disability . Repeated migraines can have a negative impact on family life, social life and employment.
There are two main types of migraine: migraine without aura and migraine with aura .
What Are The ‘red Flags’ That My Visual Symptoms Are Not Due To Migraine
The typical symptoms of a visual migraine are positive, meaning that there is something shimmering or sparkling that is disrupting the vision. Migraines are less likely to cause “negative” symptoms of pure visual darkness. An episode of visual darkness typically requires additional evaluation for other conditions, including a mini-stroke .
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Why You Seem To Get Headaches Every Day
A variety of triggers can cause or contribute to everyday headaches, but if you cant figure out what those triggers are, you wont have much luck fixing the issue
Some of the most common triggers include stress, dehydration, poor posture , allergens, caffeine withdrawal, and nutritional deficiencies.
With tension headaches, experts believe that these triggers affect the skin, sinuses, blood vessels, and other structures more sensitive to pain or the muscles stretched across those structures, resulting in pain. In the case of migraines, the mechanisms are a bit more complex, but in the end, your goal is the same: Remove the triggers, and enjoy a headache-free life. One of the most common headache triggers is stress, so well address that first. Grab your comfy pants, because youre going to need them.
Can Migraines Be Prevented Or Avoided
Medicine to prevent migraines may be helpful if your headaches happen more than 2 times a month. You may want to consider this medicine if your headaches make it hard for you to work and function. These medicines are taken every day, whether you have a headache or not.
Preventive medications for migraines can include prescription drugs often used to treat other ailments. Anti-seizure medicines, antidepressants, medicines to lower blood pressure, and even Botox injections are some of the preventive medications your doctor may prescribe. Calcitonin gene-related peptide inhibitors can also help prevent migraines. They do so by blocking a gene-related peptide in your sensory nerves. This peptide is known to increase during a migraine attack, so blocking it can help prevent migraines.
There are also a number of non-medical treatments designed to help minimize migraine pain and frequency. One is an electrical stimulation device, which has been approved by the FDA. It is a headband that you wear once a day for 20 minutes to stimulate the nerve linked to migraines. Another non-medical treatment is counseling aimed at helping you feel in more control of your migraines. This counseling works best when paired with medical prevention of migraines, as well.
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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.
Most Common Aura Symptoms
Aura refers to a variety of visual, sensory, and speech disturbances that can occur with or without a headache. These usually last for 2060 minutes but can sometimes last for several days.
According to a review in the Journal of Headache and Pain, a person experiencing migraine with aura may notice the following symptoms:
- visual changes, such as seeing flashes of light, spots, or zigzag lines or experiencing a temporary loss of vision
- sensory changes, such as numbness or tingling in arms, legs, fingers, or face
- speech changes, such as difficulty finding words and garbled speech
- weakness or difficulty moving the arms, legs, or face
Throughout a persons life, both the number of times they experience migraine with aura and how they experience these episodes can change. A person may also notice that their symptoms of aura continue without accompanying headaches as they get older.
Many of the same factors that trigger migraine without aura can also cause migraine with aura. These potential causes include the following:
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