The Oxford Learner’s dictionary defined migraine as a very severe type of headache which often makes a person feel sick and have difficulty in seeing. Similarly, webmd.com described it as a painful type of headache that is accompanied by vomiting, nausea and higher sensitivity to light.
Migraine is known to be a neurological disease. The disease onset is characterized by recurrent headache (mild to severe headache) associated with some symptoms of the autonomic nervous system. This headache can last for up to 72 hours and it usually affects one half of the head hence it is said to be pulsating.
Studies have shown that about one (1) out of four (4) women and one (1) out of twelve (12) men develop this disease at some stage of their lives. Some people experience frequent attacks of this ailment and is seen several times a week in these subjects.
Migraine headache can be debilitating and occur more in women than in men.
The Causes of Migraine
The cause of migraine is unknown. However, its progression is linked to the changes in certain brain functions and genetic causes. Individuals having this disease may have the tendency of being affected by some of its triggers like fatigue, light, change in weather and others. It has been a common believe, over the years, by scientists that this disease is linked to the dilatation and/or constriction of the blood vessels in the brain not until recently when its onset is documented to be as a result of abnormalities in some areas of the brain which may be inherited.
These triggers are mostly external factors which include excessive fatigue, emotional stress, sensitivity to some chemicals/food preservatives, caffeine, weather changes, menstruation, changes in sleep pattern and inconsistency in feeding. Some medical conditions such as asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, hypertension, stroke, sleep disorders and Raynaud’s phenomenon are usually associated with migraine onset.
Migraine symptoms such as a throbbing headache usually comes in form of a dull ache and subsequently progresses as an excruciating pain. Other migraine symptoms are nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, stomach upset, sensitivity to light, odor and noise, anorexia, fatigue, dizziness, diarrhea, blurred vision, paleness and fever which is usually rare.
Migraines are categorized, based on the symptoms that signal their onset, into with aura (called classic migraine) and without aura (common migraine). A physiological warning sign that is experienced prior to migraine is called aura. The former type is seen in 20% to 30% of sufferers. This occurs one hour prior to the attack of pain. The aura experienced includes temporary loss of vision, blurred vision, bright flashing lights, wavy lines and blind spots. Other auras experienced are tinnitus, a feeling of odd smell, having changes in taste and touch.
Hemiplegic migraine, retinal migraine, basilar artery migraine, status migrainosus, ophthalmoplegic migraine are classified as then rare conditions with different associated auras.
The second group of migraine (without aura) is more common with an incidence of 80% to 85% in sufferers. Individuals under attack, several hours before its onset, may experience some vague symptoms such as depression, fatigue and/or anxiety.
How to get rid of a headache
Migraine relief though cannot be cured, can be achieved by the use of some drugs. On the other hand, identifying and avoiding the various triggers of this disease will reduce its incidence. The commonly used drugs include:
OTC drugs most of which contains ibuprofen are effective in relieving some people with pains. Advil, Tylenol, Aspirin and Motrin IB are indicated in migraine. Excedrin migraine; a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine is also used for this. Triptans, ergots, opioids, glucocorticoids are used as well.
Other ways to combat this disease is to treat the underlying symptoms. Anti-nausea drugs are also indicated in this case.
Other approaches to stop this disease include the use of abortive medicines, bio-feedbacks and by the use of magnetic stimulation (Cerena Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator).
Furthermore, one can prevent a migraine attack by identifying and avoiding its triggers, proper management of stress by relaxation and other techniques to lessen its severity.
Adequate feeding and rest will also help to prevent this attack. Preventive medications are also known to stop the attack. These include cardiovascular drugs, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, onabotulinum toxin A and other pain relievers.
Migraine needs more supportive care and medical attention compared to a normal headache. Hence, the services of healthcare professional are highly needed.