Migraine Headaches

What Are Migraines?

Migraine headaches are a headache of varying intensity, often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines are sometimes preceded by warning symptoms. Triggers include hormonal changes, certain foods and drinks, stress, and exercise. Migraines can cause throbbing in one particular area that can vary in intensity. Nausea and sensitivity to light and sound are also common symptoms. Preventive and pain-relieving medications can help manage migraine headaches.

What Are The Symptoms?

Migraine headaches can cause throbbing in one particular area that can vary in intensity. Nausea and sensitivity to light and sound are also common symptoms.

Some people experience other symptoms such as: pain in the face, or neck; headache can be acute and/or frequent; patient may experience distorted vision and/or seeing flashes of red; the whole body may experience dizziness or lightheadedness; they can also cause irritability, nasal congestion, or scalp tenderness.

What Causes A Migraine Headache? 

While researchers haven’t been able to pinpoint a cause, they know that several things raise your chances of having migraines, including:

  1. Your genes. If someone in your family gets migraine headaches, you’re more likely to get them than someone without that family history.
  2. Your age. Migraine headaches can hit at any point in your life, but you’re more likely to get your first one in your teens. The headaches tend to peak in your 30s and become less severe later in life.
  3. Your gender. Women are about three times more likely to get them than men.
  4. Hormonal changes. Shifts in the hormone estrogen can bring on migraines in women. Medications like birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy can bring on headaches or make them worse. But some women have fewer migraines when they take these medications.
  5. Emotional stress. This is one of the most common migraine triggers. That’s because when you’re stressed, your brain releases chemicals that cause your “fight or flight” response. Anxiety, worry, and fear can create even more tension and make a migraine worse.
  6. Certain foods. Salty, processed foods and aged cheeses like blue cheese are known triggers. And the artificial sweetener aspartame, and flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate, or MSG, may cause them, too.
  7. Skipping meals. If you miss a meal, your blood sugar could drop, triggering a headache.
  8. Alcohol and caffeine. Do you ever get a raging headache after that glass of wine? Alcoholic drinks and drinks high in caffeine can be migraine triggers.
  9. Sensory overload. Bright lights, loud sounds, and strong smells can bring on these headaches in some people.
  10. Changes in your sleep pattern. If you get too much or too little sleep, you may get a migraine. Traveling between time zones? Jet lag can be a cause, too.
  11. Physical strain . An intense workout, like heavy exercise or even sex, can cause a migraine. You should still be active, but you might do better with a more moderate pace.
  12. Changes in weather. This is a big trigger. So is a change in the overall air pressure.
  13. Too much medication. If you have migraines and take medications for them more than 10 days in a month, you may be setting yourself up for what’s called a rebound headache. Your doctor will probably call it a medication overuse headache.

What Are The Treatments?

Treatment consists of pain medications and some therapies. Preventive and pain-relieving medications can help manage migraine headaches. Patients are instructed to:

  • Avoid migraine triggers
  • Practice good stress management
  • Improve sleep habits
  • Modify the diet as needed

Medications include: Anti-psychotic, Analgesic, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, Stimulant, Nerve pain medication, Triptan, Neurotoxin, and Dietary supplements. Therapies include: Progressive muscle relaxation,  Acupuncture, and Botox injections.