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Many people don’t take headache seriously because they assume it is a minor sickness that will resolve by itself even without any medicine. This is usually the case if someone else is complaining about the headache. But bear in mind that headaches come in different severity but the most dangerous ones are “Tension” and “Migraine” headaches. This article will focus only on Migraine headache which is the most severe and deadly kind of headache.

Definition – A migraine headache is the most severe painful headache that you will ever experience and it is most likely preceded by warning signs like flashes of light, blind spots, tingling in your arms and legs, nausea, sometimes vomiting and increased sensitivity to light and sound. The pain from migraine will last much longer than “normal” headache from many hours to even days none stop.

The cause of Migraine – Scientists think that the cause is due to some abnormal brain activity which causes a temporary alteration in the brain nerve signals, body chemicals and blood flow to the brain. But they warn that this idea is only a hypothesis because the exact cause of migraine headache is actually unknown.

Stimulants of migraine onset – Why is it that all of a sudden a person will start having migraine? There are people who may never have any severe headache that should be classified as migraine. But unfortunately there are many people who are prone to experiencing migraine more often than the average population. The following are things that will trigger a person to having a migraine, some of these are avoidable but others are unavoidable triggers of migraine headache.

Smoking or exposure to smoke (second hand smoke)

Stress and tension, physical and emotional stress

Depression, anxiety and over excitement

Tiredness, jet-lag, exercise

Loud noise, bright light, flickering light, strong smell, odors or perfume

Irregular sleep or changes in sleep pattern

Allergies and allergy reaction

Fasting or skipping meals causing low blood sugar

Dehydration

Alcohol

Hormonal trigger, menstrual cycle fluctuations, menopause

Food containing tyramine such as red wine, smoked fish, beans; nitrate containing food like hot dog, bacon, salami; chocolate, citrus, avocado, etc.

Medications e.g. sleep meds, hormone replacement therapy, birth control pills.

Migraine statistics – The available record shows that about twelve percent (12%) of the population is affected by Migraine. In America about 36 million people are affected by Migraine headache. The age groups that are affected more are those between 15 to 55 years of age. In terms of gender women are affected more than men.  

Symptoms of Migraines: The following are symptoms that tells a migraine.

1.     Pain that is moderate to severe, throbbing and pulsing that may be confined to one or both sides of the head.

2.     Increased sensitivity to light and sound but relieved by lying quietly in a dark room.

3.     Sweating, temperature changes, tummy ache and diarrhea

4.     Inability to perform normal activities due to the headache

5.     Warning signs called auras may be experienced by some people. Auras are perceptual disturbances e.g. strange lights, flashing or sparkling lights, visual blind spots, unpleasant smell, zigzag lines in visual field, problem speaking, and neck or shoulder stiffness. Auras only experienced by about 30 to 35% of Migraine sufferers. In adult patients the auras usually occur before the headache but in children they may happen about the same time.

Treatment of Migraines: Unfortunately there is currently no cure for migraine but there are treatments to help prevent further attack and alleviate the symptoms.

1.     Lifestyle changes may help reduce the chances of a migraine. Some of these are stress reduction, drinking plenty of water, regular exercise and getting enough sleep.

2.     Medication – Ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen and other analgesics are first steps treatments to reduce the pain. This should be taken very early before the headache gets more severe. If the patient is having nausea and vomiting the doctor may give metoclopramide (Reglan). When over-the-counter medicine doesn’t help then a prescription may be written by the doctor for Sumatriptan, an antidepressant or another class of medicine called ergots.  There are many other combination treatments that your doctor may recommend for you based on the severity of your migraine.

Prevention of Migraine – It is more beneficial to do everything possible to prevent migraine instead of treating it after it occurs. The prevention involves diet changes, regular exercise, and adequate amount of sleep, chiropractic care, acupuncture, herbal supplements and vitamins like riboflavin (vitamin B2), Vitamin B12 and melatonin.

References:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/148373.php

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