Why Do I Have A Migraine Here’s The Answer
As a woman in her mid-30s, I have been suffering from migraines for well over half my life. I can remember when I was diagnosed at 12 years old. I had hoped that 20 plus years later, I would see a cure.
Well, friends there still is no cure. However, we know quite a bit more about why we have migraines than we used to! So, if you have ever asked yourself, why do I have a migraine? be sure to read on for more information.
The Importance Of Achieving A Specific And Accurate Headache Diagnosis
Getting a specific headache diagnosis that is accurate is very important because it will have a major influence on matching your treatment plan to the type of headache and severity of illness. Diagnosis influences the treatment plan by directing the type of medical tests that are run, type of medications recommended and long-term management goals you and your practitioner select. More importantly, matching your beliefs about your headache type to an accurate diagnosis is crucial, as otherwise test recommendations, medications and long-term behavioral management adherence is likely to decrease or not be started at all.
For example, the plan of care will be very different for headaches diagnosed as sinusitis than for headaches diagnosed as migraine. However, if you believe your headaches are due to sinus headache, while your practitioner believes you have migraineresolving the differences so you can comfortably put recommendations into action is critical. For those with chronic migraine, a very different treatment regimen is likely to be offered than for those with less frequent episodic migraine.
Headache diagnoses and treatment plans are made on the basis of:
Throbbing Pain On One Or Both Sides Of The Head
Pulsating pain is a classic sign of migraines. The throbbing is often felt on one side of the head.
In an online survey of patients with migraines, the National Headache Foundation found that 50% “always” have throbbing on one side, while 34% say they “frequently” have this symptom.
Migraine pain often burrows behind the eye.
People will blame it on eye strain and many will get their eyes checked, but that won’t make their headaches any better, Dr. Messina says.
Read Also: How I Cured My Vestibular Migraine
Who Gets Migraine Aura Without Head Pain
Migraine aura without pain or silent migraine is fairly unusual. Only 4 out of every 100 people who get migraines have aura without pain and no other kind of migraine. However, 40 percent of people who have migraine with aura will have only aura symptoms and no pain at some point in their life.2
Migraine aura without pain is more common in women than men and tends to begin later in life. When it begins after age 60 it is called late-onset migraine accompaniment.2
What Should I Do When A Migraine Begins
Work with your doctor to come up with a plan for managing your migraines. Keeping a list of home treatment methods that have worked for you in the past also can help. When symptoms begin:
- If you take migraine medicine, take it right away.
- Drink fluids, if you dont have nausea during your migraine.
- Lie down and rest in a dark, quiet room, if that is practical.
Some people find the following useful:
- A cold cloth on your head
- Rubbing or applying pressure to the spot where you feel pain
- Massage or other relaxation exercises
You May Like: Do Daith Piercings Help With Migraines
What Else Can I Do To Prevent Migraines
While there are no sure ways to keep from having migraine headaches, here are some things that may help:
Eat regularly and do not skip meals.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule.
- Exercise regularly. Aerobic exercise can help reduce tension as well as keep your weight in check. Obesity can contribute to migraines.
- Keep a migraine journal to help you learn what triggers your migraines and what treatments are most helpful.
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.
You May Like: Headache And Vomiting Treatment
Living With Chronic Headache: A Personal Migraine Story
- By Harvard Health Publishing Staff, Harvard Health
ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
As I write this, a dull headache presses into the space above my left eye. The same headache visited me yesterday, and the day before that. In fact, for most of the last year, Ive had a headache every day, all day. Though its now manageable I can write with it, after all for the previous 12 months, my headaches took over my life. They were all I thought about. They became who I was.
On the good days, the pain was just a mild throbbing sensation. Other times, there was a general sense of an ever-tightening pressure. On the days when I couldnt get out of bed, it felt like someone was tightening screws into the sides of my head and pounding a hammer above my left eye. The pain never went away, unless I was asleep. So I slept a lot, as much as my body would let me.
Ive always gotten more headaches than the average person the mild, treat-with-an-over-the counter-pain-medication-and-theyll-go-away type. But following a drawn-out viral infection that left me sneezing and feeling run-down for weeks, I started to get headaches every day, and they were more painful than usual.
What Are The Four Stages Or Phases Of A Migraine Whats The Timeline
The four stages in chronological order are the prodrome , aura, headache and postdrome. About 30% of people experience symptoms before their headache starts.
The phases are:
It can take about eight to 72 hours to go through the four stages.
You May Like: Does Aspartame Cause Migraine Headaches
Diagnosing Migraine Aura Without Pain
Migraine aura without pain can be hard to diagnose. It can be confused with stroke or seizures. Your doctor will have to rule out other, more common, health conditions before diagnosing you with migraine aura without pain. A migraine diary is an important tool in helping your doctor accurately diagnose silent migraine.1,,2
Can Migraine Be Worse During Menopause
If your migraine headaches are closely linked to your menstrual cycle, may make them less severe. As you get older, the nausea and vomiting may decrease as well. About two-thirds of women with migraines report that their symptoms improve with menopause.
But for some women, menopause worsens migraine or triggers them to start. It is not clear why this happens. , which is prescribed for some women during menopause, may be linked to migraines during this time. In general, though, the worsening of migraine symptoms goes away once menopause is complete.
Recommended Reading: How To Beat Migraines Naturally
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.
What Is Migraine Aura Without Pain
Migraine aura without pain includes changes in vision or changes in the other senses and speech but no head pain. Symptoms gradually build over 5 to 20 minutes and then go away after about 1 hour. The lack of head pain sets it apart from other types of migraine with aura. Also, no other disorder can be found to be blamed for the symptoms.1
Recommended Reading: What Type Of Migraine Do I Have Quiz
What Happens To Your Brain During A Migraine
But during a migraine, these stimuli feel like an all-out assault. The result: The brain produces an outsize reaction to the trigger, its electrical system firing on all cylinders. This electrical activity causes a change in blood flow to the brain, which in turn affects the brains nerves, causing pain.
What Are The Treatments For Migraine
There is no absolute cure for migraine. However, lots of treatments are available to help ease the symptoms of a migraine attack.
When a migraine attack occurs, most people find that lying down in a quiet, dark room is helpful. Sleeping can also help. Some people find that their symptoms die down after they have vomited .
Most people affected by migraine will already have tried paracetamol, aspirin and perhaps anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen before they seek advice from their doctor. If ordinary painkillers alone are not relieving your symptoms, your GP might prescribe you a triptan to be taken in addition to over-the-counter painkillers . Triptans are available in different forms to suit individuals , although it is important to note that some people develop short-term side effects when taking triptans. Your doctor may also prescribe you anti-sickness medication. If your situation does not improve after treatment, you might be referred to a specialist migraine clinic.
It is important to avoid taking painkillers on more than two days per week or more than 10 days per month as this can in fact make things worse by triggering medication overuse headaches.
Read Also: How To Beat Migraines Naturally
How To Identify Triggers
If you have migraine, almost anything can be a trigger. This means it can be very difficult to identify your potential triggers. It may also be a combination of a few things that seems to lead to a migraine attack. And a trigger may not lead to a migraine attack every time, which can confuse things even more.
Here is an example of how combinations of triggers can work: A young woman has identified that her migraine attacks appear to be triggered when she skips meals, is feeling stressed and when she is about to have her period. If she comes home late from a very stressful day at work, her period is just about to start, and she goes straight to bed without eating a proper meal, she will almost certainly have a migraine attack. However, if she skips dinner another time, when the other triggers did not happen, she will probably not have migraine attack.
Many people find that they sometimes go a long time without having a migraine attack. During this time, your body may seem to be less sensitive to triggers and you may find that even the combination of your usual triggers doesnt result in a migraine attack.
How Many Migraines A Month Is Considered Chronic
Chronic migraine is a distinct and relatively recently defined sub-type of Chronic Daily Headache. The International Headache Society defines chronic migraine as more than fifteen headache days per month over a three month period of which more than eight are migrainous, in the absence of medication over use.
Read Also: Does Aspartame Cause Migraine Headaches
Common Reasons For Migraines
According to FamilyDoctor.org, researchers are not sure what exactly causes migraines. There are various theories:
- Serotonin: Serotonin plays a role in how our blood flows through our vessels when serotonin levels are high, blood vessels constrict. When serotonin levels are low, blood vessels dilate. Swelling can cause a myriad of problems, such as migraines.
- Electrical activity: Our body is a flurry of electrical activity due to our nervous systems. One theory is that migraines . . . go along with a spreading pattern of electrical activity in the brain.
- Genetics: According to the American Migraine Foundation, if one of your parents suffers from migraines, there is a 50% chance that you will also suffer from migraines. That increases to 75% if both of your parents suffer from migraines.
Even though we do not know the specific cause of migraines, we do know that there are various triggers. Everyone who experiences migraines is different their triggers are not the same as someone elses.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, 70% of people with migraine identify it as a trigger, making it the most common.
There are certainly inevitable stressors that we cannot fix. For example, we cannot stop the car from breaking down. However, doing things like meditation and exercising on a regular basis can reduce stress levels.
Common identified triggers:
Weakness On One Side Of The Body
When an arm goes limp, it can be a sign of a migraine.
Some people experience muscle weakness on one side of the body before a migraine attack. This can also be a sign of a stroke, however, so consult a doctor to rule out any other causes.
To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter
You May Like: Can Migraines Cause Fever
How To Tell You’re Having A Migraine
Migraines are severely disabling, with symptoms ranging from intense head pain to nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. If you suffer from migraines, it’s helpful to know some common warning signs, so you can prepare for or try to prevent one. Watch this video for signs that a migraine might be around the corner.
What Medicines Help Relieve Migraine Pain
For mild to moderate migraines, over-the-counter medicines that may help relieve migraine pain include:
- an acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine combination
People who have more severe migraines may need to try abortive prescription medicines. A medicine called ergotamine can be effective alone or combined with other medicines. Dihydroergotamine is related to ergotamine and can be helpful. Other prescription medicines for migraines include sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, eletriptan, and frovatriptan.
If the pain wont go away, stronger pain medicine may be needed, such as a narcotic, or medicines that contain a barbiturate . These medicines can be habit-forming and should be used cautiously. Your doctor may prescribe these only if they are needed and only for a short period of time.
Read Also: Do I Have A Migraine Quiz
How Are Migraines Diagnosed
Your doctor can diagnose migraines by the symptoms you describe. If the diagnosis is not clear, your doctor will perform a physical exam. Your doctor might want to do blood tests or imaging tests, such as an MRI or CAT scan of the brain. These tests can help ensure there are no other causes for the headache. You may also be asked to keep a headache journal. This can help your doctor identify the things that might cause your migraines.
If headache pain is getting in the way of your daily activities, its time to see your family doctor. Read More
Seek Help For Serious Sudden Headaches
Although most headaches are not serious and will go away on their own, its important to recognize when headache pain could be a sign of a larger issue.
Stephen D. Silberstein, MD, director of the Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and past president of the American Headache Society, advises: If your headache is bad, new, or changing, see somebody.
Also Check: What To Do For A Migraine
You May Like: Migraine Be Koool
Headache Behind The Eye Treatment
Learning to avoid your triggers may prevent headaches or make them less painful. If you do get one, there are many kinds of treatments.
Medication for headache behind the eye
Over-the-counter pain medicine can ease occasional headaches. It may even help with migraines if you take it early enough. Doctors often recommend acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen . But remember that taking them too often can trigger overuse headaches.
If you get frequent tension headaches, your doctor may prescribe medication. Antidepressants like amitriptyline help many people.
Sometimes, prescription drugs are the only things that will ease migraine pain. Some of the most common are triptans such as almotriptan , eletriptan , rizatriptan , sumatriptan , and zolmitriptan . They help most people within 2 hours if taken early enough. People who get chronic migraines often take medicine like beta-blockers or antidepressants every day to help cut back on how many they have.
Breathing pure oxygen may bring relief of cluster headaches. Injected triptans like sumatriptan and lidocaine nose drops might also help. Some people take medicines such as verapamil or prednisone to prevent attacks.
Home remedies for headache behind the eye
Caffeine or ice packs may help with migraine pain.