Migraines: Warning Signs and Triggers
A migraine is a painful headache that occurs on one side of the head. It is often triggered by specific situations or compounds that include the environment, hormones, and a few others. Migraines mainly occur among women; 75% of all patients are women. Migraines can also affect the ability of the person to complete common tasks.
What Is The Difference Between A Headache And a Migraine?
A classic migraine comes with an aura that makes the patient visualize field changes which can be in the form of dots, wavy lines, and blurriness before the onset of the pain in about an hour. Approximately 20% of the people who suffer from migraines are victims of this classical type of a migraine.
The Warning Signs Of A Migraine
Not everyone suffers from the classical type of a migraine where aura is common. Around 25% of migraine patients are at the prodromal phase. This phase can begin as early as 24 hours before the development of a migraine and consists of mood changes, depression, irritability, excitement and sensations of odd smells and tastes. SOme patients may also feel tense and tired.
Symptoms Of A Migraine
Throbbing pain on one side of the head is a common symptom of a migraine and can make it difficult for the patient to be able to complete simple tasks or to work. The pain in the head can also radiate towards the forehead, eyes or the temple and cause vomiting, nausea, and problems with one’s vision.
What Causes Migraines?
Researchers are yet to understand the neurological causes of migraines. They are still speculating that unknown factors initiate a mix of brain chemicals to cause a migraine.
The Triggers For A Migraine
Exposure to a specific set of circumstances is most often the cause of a migraine. One of the most common triggers is strong flickering lights—faulty fluorescent lights and sunlight reflected off the waves in the ocean or a lake can trigger a migraine.
Anxiety and stress also have a role to play in triggering a migraine. Migraine patients may not be able to lead stress-free lives, but they can reduce stress through relaxation techniques. Lack of food and sufficient sleep are also potential causes of a migraine. Other conditions like eating disorders can also lead to migraines.
Among women, the problem of migraines is linked to their menstrual cycle. The increase or decrease in hormones is considered as a migraine trigger in some women. However, the patterns differ between from one woman to another, so a single type of hormonal therapy will not be effective for everyone. Some foods also have the potential to trigger migraines in people, but any type of food can trigger a migraine. People have mentioned that such foods as red wine, chocolate, processed cheese, and MSG trigger migraines in them.
Who Is Susceptible To A Migraine?
Women are more susceptible to migraines—and suffer from the problem three times more—than men. Migraines can also affect people who have epilepsy, depression, anxiety, stroke, asthma, and people with neurologic and genetic disorders.
Physicians look at the clinical history of the symptoms when trying to diagnose migraines. Doctors also perform a CT or MRI brain scan to determine whether there are any other causes of headaches.
Treatment For Migraines
If you have migraines, there are several over-the-counter medications that treat the condition. While OTC medications have proved helpful for some, they may have unanticipated side effects. Therefore, it is advisable to consult a doctor to prescribe medications to avoid unpleasant side effects.
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