The American Migraine Foundations Guide To Triggers & How To Manage Them
The sudden onset of migraine means a dark room, bed, and a cool towel for most of us. While these seem to come out of nowhere, many will find that there are usually some signs that a migraine attack is on its way. These signs can reveal a pattern in your symptoms, and even provide you with preventative tools for managing migraine. Everyone has different triggers, but there are a few common culprits that affect a large number of people living with migraine. When you can identify your triggers, you are one step closer to effectively managing your migraine and avoiding future attacks.
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.
What Are Ocular Migraines
The term ocular migraine is used to describe a migraine that takes place in the eye. These migraines can manifest as a variety of different visual disturbances including:
- Zigzag lines
- Bright flashes of light
- Scotomas or blind spots
- Scintillations or sparkling, usually of lights or stars but can also be blind spots
These are the most common symptoms of an ocular migraine, but the visual disturbance caused by this type of migraine can manifest as anything from shadows in the vision to a complete but temporary loss of vision in the eye.
What makes an ocular migraine different from an aura is that it typically only occurs in one eye and lasts only a few minutes to an hour. They are also not followed by an actual migraine headache .
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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.
Managing Migraines At Home
A migraine is a common type of headache. It may occur with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. Most people feel a throbbing pain on only one side of their head during a migraine.
Some people who get migraines have warning signs, called an aura, before the actual headache begins. An aura is a group of symptoms that includes vision changes. An aura is a warning sign that a bad headache is coming.
Migraine headaches can be triggered by certain foods. The most common are:
- Any processed, fermented, pickled, or marinated foods, as well as foods that contain monosodium glutamate
- Baked goods, chocolate, nuts, and dairy products
- Meats containing sodium nitrates, such as bacon, hot dogs, salami, and cured meats
- Red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken liver, figs, and certain beans
Alcohol, stress, hormonal changes, skipping meals, lack of sleep, certain odors or perfumes, loud noises or bright lights, exercise, and cigarette smoking may also trigger a migraine.
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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.
Should I See A Migraine Specialist
You may only be seeing your primary care doctor for migraine management. But if youre experiencing migraine more often and its impacting your daily life, you may want to start visiting a specialist.
A neurologist can complete a detailed exam to rule out other possible causes of your headaches. Then, you can get started on treatment to help reduce the frequency of your migraine attacks.
Preventive treatments can help stop your migraines before they start. You can take these medications every day.
Some of the medications for chronic migraine treatment include:
- beta blockers
- onabotulinum toxin A
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Jaw Clenching Or Grinding
Grinding or clenching teeth can occur without the individual even realizing it. You may have a morning migraine or headache but not notice symptoms from the jaw.
Clenching throughout the night can lead to fatigue and exhaustion of jaw muscles.
Individuals may notice a stiff jaw, aches in the temples and even damaged teeth. Extreme forces can occur in individuals who grind or clench during sleep. This is often several times more forceful than teeth clenching whilst awake during the day.
Why Do I Have Frequent Ocular Migraines
Asked by Darklingilisten
Why Do I Have Frequent Ocular Migraines?
When I was little, I started to see bright lines intersecting one another in my field of vision. I don’t know when they started really, but that I was very young. I was afraid of the dark not only because I couldn’t see anything around me, but also because the bright intersecting lines and shapes became all that I could see, whether I closed my eyes or not. Sometimes I felt as though my head was a balloon, filled with helium, my skin tight around my head. Occasionally, a curtain of glittering pale green and blue would wash completely over my vision, and then my ears would ring . If I stared into space for too long objects would separate into two. I always thought it was all normal, up until a few days ago.
In high school, I started getting migraines frequently. There was a period of about a year where they came, sometimes overlapping one another it seemed. During that time, I kept seeing those bright shapes, but they were brighter than ever, often obscuring my ability to see. I stopped eating most processed foods, meat and dairy, and focused on my own personal happiness and the migraines receded, only happening every few months. But I still saw the bright shapes, the grid of pale light, and my ears still rung. Still, it was, and is, normal to me. That was about 4 or 5 years ago.
I hope not 🙁
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What Are The Acute Treatments For Migraine
An isolated visual migraine, without headache, typically does not require any acute treatment, since the visual symptoms resolve on their own fairly quickly. The first few times someone experiences a visual migraine it usually causes a lot of anxiety. Once someone has become familiar with the symptoms of a visual migraine, new episodes no longer cause the same level of anxiety.
It can be helpful to try to rest during the episode. Some patients benefit from other strategies, including eating something, having caffeine, or taking an over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen .
Patients in whom the visual symptoms are accompanied by a severe headache often benefit from additional therapies. The goal of these medications is to try to cut short the headache before it becomes too severe. Some patients find naproxen , which is a stronger anti-inflammatory medication, to be helpful. Other patients try a class of medications known as triptans.
Triptans are specially designed to work on receptors on blood vessels and brain cells in order to halt a migraine at an early stage. Although there are a number of different triptans, made by several different pharmaceutical companies, each of these is approximately equally effective. Triptans are often taken orally, but also come as injections and nasal sprays. These medicines are generally not considered safe in patients with a history of strokes, heart attacks, or other vascular diseases.
What Does A Migraine Feel Like
Migraines can cause very bad pain that can get in the way of your normal routine. Migraines arent the same for everyone. Some symptoms include:
Throbbing or dull pain on one or both sides of your head
Stomachache or throwing up
Changes in how you see, such as blurry vision or blind spots
Being bothered by light, noise, or smells
Feeling tired or confused
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Are Most People Experiencing Mild Symptoms From Omicron
Data from early Omicron hotspots including South Africa, the U.K. and New York City suggest that the variant causes milder disease than its older cousins. A U.K. report from late December 2021 found that, compared to people infected by the Delta variant, people with Omicron-related infections were about half as likely to seek care in an emergency department or require hospitalization.
But even a mild case of COVID-19 can still make you feel quite sick and potentially lead to lasting complications like Long COVID. Its also not entirely clear whether Omicron is itself milder than other versions of COVID-19, or whether population-level immunity from vaccinations and previous exposures is mitigating some of its worst outcomes, Sterling says. Its still a good idea to keep up precautions, particularly if youre not fully vaccinated or are otherwise vulnerable.
Causes Of Frequent Migraines
Medical researchers have yet to understand the exact reason some people get migraines. The current theory is that changes in the chemicals, nerves, and blood vessels in your brain cause the migraine to occur. Genetics may also play a role.
Scientists have found that many people experience one of these chemical or physical changes when exposed to a trigger. There are many different types of migraine triggers, and people who get migraines may not experience the same ones, which may include:
- Different medications, like oral contraceptives or vasodilators
- Certain food or food-related activities, like skipping a meal
- Food additives, like MSG and artificial sweeteners
Since everyone has different triggers or tolerances to known triggers, keeping track of the specific triggers associated with your migraines can help you avoid the headaches before they start.
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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.
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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How Can I Tell If Im Infected With Omicron Or Another Variant
When you take most standard COVID-19 tests, youll only get a positive or negative result if youre infected, it wont tell you which strain is the culprit. You may never know unless health authorities send your sample out for genetic sequencing . Symptoms offer clues, but even two people exposed to the virus at the same time could feel differently.
If youre sick enough to need hospitalization, doctors might want to know which strain infected you, because certain therapies dont work as well against Omicron as other versions of COVID-19, Sterling says. But if you have a mild case, dont spend too much energy trying to figure out which variant you caught. Youll need to rest and isolate yourself from others until symptoms subside, no matter what.
What Tests Are Used To Find Out If I Have Migraine
If you think you get migraine headaches, talk with your doctor. Before your appointment, write down:
Your doctor may also do an exam and ask more questions about your health history. This could include past head injury and sinus or dental problems. Your doctor may be able to diagnose migraine just from the information you provide.
You may get a blood test or other tests, such as CT scan or MRI, if your doctor thinks that something else is causing your headaches. Work with your doctor to decide on the best tests for you.
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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 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.