What Are Migraine Headaches?
Patients who suffer from migraine pain experience the effects from a physical standpoint and the loss of work, family time, and daily pleasures. Annually, American businesses struggle with over $13 billion in migraine-related expenses. A migraine sufferer alone misses over a week of work every year. Among migraine patients, 39% report severe impairment in daily functioning. The pain causes more than half of patients to lose all abilities and must deal with it. A small number of migraine patients do not experience this disabling effect.
WHAT ARE MIGRAINES ASSOCIATED WITH?
Migraine disorder is often associated with intense, frequent, and debilitating headache pain.
MIGRAINE HEADACHES IN MEN AND WOMEN
Women suffer from migraine headache disorders three times more often than men. The occurrence of migraines is said to be related to fluctuations in female hormones. Hormonal changes probably cause menstrual migraines. About 60 percent of women experiencing migraines report headaches being more frequent during their menstrual cycle. Medical care is not offered to the majority of migraine sufferers. As a result, misdiagnoses, ill-advised self-prescribed treatments, and medication overuse are common, leading to an increase in symptom frequency.
Depression, anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy, and stroke are common disorders associated with migraine headaches. Similar medications are effective for treating migraines and related disorders.
WHAT CAUSES MIGRAINE HEADACHES?
Researchers haven’t identified a definitive cause for migraines. However, they have found some contributing factors that can trigger the condition. A decline in serotonin levels, for example, indicates changes in brain chemicals.
Other factors that may trigger a migraine include:
- bright lights
- severe heat, or other extremes in weather
- changes in barometric pressure
- hormone changes in women, such as estrogen and progesterone fluctuations during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause
- excess stress
- loud sounds
- intense physical activity
- skipping meals
- changes in sleep patterns
- use of certain medications, such as oral contraceptives or nitroglycerin
- unusual smells
- certain foods
- smoking and or alcohol use
PHASES OF MIGRAINES
A migraine prodrome can last up to 24 hours and affects 60 percent of all migraine patients. A headache is detectable by symptoms such as mood changes, increased thirst and yawning, bloating, neck pain, frequent urination, constipation, and diarrhea. It is also common for victims to feel more sensitive to light and sound.
About 15 percent of migraine patients experience an aura phase. Migraine patients often experience an aura before headaches. Aura phases may last for an hour. When patients experience a visual aura, they typically see flashing lights or shimmering effects. Other neurological symptoms such as hemiparesis and paresthesias, which are unpleasant sensations of abnormal numbness, tingling, or burning, are known to accompany auras before migraines.
A recurring headache begins as a unilateral episode—but it may move to a bilateral episode if the pain passes to another area of the head. There can be an increase in throbbing and pulsing pain due to cranial pressure. The pain will increase if you cough, sneeze, or move around. In addition to nausea, vomiting, and dizziness, phonophobia and photophobia are common secondary symptoms.
This phase generally involves patients seeking bed rest in a dark, quiet room.
A headache resolution phase is characterized by exhaustion, mood swings, and irritability.
People describe migraine pain as pulsating, throbbing, perforating, pounding, and debilitating. The pain can also feel like a dull, steady ache. If not treated, the pain may begin as mild but develop into moderate to severe pain. The forehead is most commonly affected by migraine pain. Usually, it happens on one side of the head, but it may appear on both sides or shift.
The best thing your doctor can do is help you manage your migraines to get them less often and treat their symptoms as needed. Treatment can also help make the migraines you have less severe.
Your treatment plan depends on your age, how often you have migraines, the type of migraine you have, how severe they are, based on how long they last, how much pain you have, and how often they keep you from going to school or work, whether they include nausea or vomiting, as well as other symptoms, other health conditions you may have and other medications you may take.
Your treatment plan may include a combination of these:
- Self-care migraine remedies
- Lifestyle adjustments, including stress management and avoiding migraine triggers
- OTC pain or migraine medications, such as NSAIDs or acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Prescription migraine medications that you take every day to help prevent migraines and reduce how often you have headaches
- Prescription migraine medications that you take as soon as a headache starts to keep it from becoming severe and to ease symptoms
- Prescription medications to help with nausea or vomiting
- Hormone therapy if migraines seem to occur with your menstrual cycle
- Alternative care, which may include biofeedback, meditation, acupressure, or acupuncture
Migraine is a medical condition characterized by headaches and other symptoms. Chronic headaches can make it difficult to work and carry on normal activities. They do more than just cause headaches, and they can dramatically affect everyday life. In many situations, identifying and avoiding triggers can help reduce the frequency or severity of episodes, although they may not be preventable. Treatments for migraine headaches can include medication as well as other approaches.
If you’re fed up with your chronic migraine headaches and want to schedule a consultation with Dr. Salloum, please contact us to set up an consultation at the Surgical Migraine Clinic in Miami Beach, FL.