Health & Wellness

2 Jan 2021 admin


You may have heard that migraines are just excruciating headaches, but there is much more to migraines than that. Migraines also called a migraine headache, is a medical condition where you have recurring moderate to severe headaches, which often come with other symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.

These headaches usually start as a throbbing or pulsing on the side of your head, forehead, or around your eyes and get worse with time. When you have a migraine headache, any form of physical activity, noise, and bright light can make the pain worse.


A migraine episode may last for about four hours and can sometimes extend for up to three days. Migraines often happen in four phases, with most people going through all four phases.


A few days or hours before a migraine headache, you may notice symptoms like:

  • Fatigue
  • Food cravings
  • Mood swings
  • Severe thirst
  • Constipation
  • Frequent yawning
  • Increased sensitivity to light, sound, or smell.


Some people may experience aura some minutes before or during a migraine. The symptoms associated with aura stem from the nervous system and usually last between 20 to 60 minutes. They are often visual but can include other sensory organs. These symptoms could include:

  • Partial or complete temporary loss of vision
  • Seeing flashing lights, shadows, blind spots, and hallucinations in severe cases
  • Speech difficulty
  • Prickling or tingling sensations
  • Muscle weakness in one side of your body
  • Ringing in your ears


At this stage, the migraine headache grows. You may experience a pulsing or throbbing pain in one or both sides of your head that gets worse with physical activity. You may also experience nausea and vomiting. This stage can last anywhere from four hours to three days if left untreated.


After a migraine attack, you may be left feeling:

  • Weak or tired
  • Unusually happy
  • Hungry or lose appetite

Types of Migraines

There are different types of migraines depending on the accompanying symptoms. The two broad types of migraines are classic and common migraines.

Classic migraine

People who have classic migraines usually experience sensory and visual disturbances, called “aura,” just before the headache starts. Classic migraines are also called complicated migraines or migraines with aura and are among the most severe types of migraines. The associated aura usually lasts between 15 to 30 minutes.

Common migraine

Common migraine affects about 80% of people who have migraines. With a common migraine, you will not experience an aura before the headache kicks in. You will typically feel the pain in one side of your head, with the pain starting slowly and lasting much longer than in classic migraines.

Silent Migraines

Silent migraines, also called acephalgic migraines, are not accompanied by head pain. However, you will experience other symptoms such as aura. You may also grow highly sensitive to light and sound.

Retinal Migraine

This type of migraine is also known as an ophthalmic or ocular migraine. Retinal migraine causes short-term changes in your vision in addition to head pain. These changes can be partial or complete blindness in one eye, and they can happen before or after the head pain. These visual changes are temporary and typically do not last long.

Hemiplegic Migraine

Hemiplegic migraine comes with a temporary short period of paralysis (hemiplegia) on one side of your body, similar to what happens when you have a stroke. One side of your leg, arm, or face may become weak for hours or a day. You may also experience head pain before or after the body weakness. This type of migraine is rare, and if you experience these symptoms, see your doctor immediately as you may be having a stroke instead.

Status Migrainosus

This type of migraine is diagnosed when you have a constant severe migraine headache episode that lasts more than three days (72 hours).

Chronic Migraine

If you have migraine headaches for more than 15 days a month for three months in a row, you may have chronic migraines. You should see a doctor immediately and get treatment.

Causes and Risk Factors of Migraines

Experts have not been able to trace the exact cause of migraines, although studies have shown that they may be related to changes in neurotransmitter levels in your brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit signals between nerves. Migraines have also been associated with low serotonin levels, which cause the brain blood vessels to swell, leading to inflammation and pain.

Scientists have also linked migraines with genetics. If one of your parents has constant migraines, there is a 50% chance you may have them too. Your risk of getting migraines increases to 75% if both of your parents have frequent migraines.

Certain factors may increase your risk of having migraines, some of which are:


If you are a woman, you are three times more likely than men to have migraines. This increased likelihood may be due to the regular hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle.


People between the ages of 10 to 40 years of age record more migraine episodes than older people. Older women have also reported that their migraine headache episodes reduced after the age of 50.

Medical Conditions:

Conditions like depression, anxiety, epilepsy, and sleep disorders can increase your chances of having migraine headaches.

Stress triggers Stress can be a common source a continuous migraines.

Migraine Triggers

If you have migraine headaches, some of these factors may trigger an episode:

  • Stress: Physical and emotional stress due to exercise, not getting enough sleep, anxiety, or depression may trigger episodes.
  • Strong Stimuli: Exposure to bright lights, loud noises, or strong smells can trigger migraines.
  • Dietary Factors: Some foods like caffeine, alcohol, red wine, cheese, and chocolates may trigger a migraine episode. Dieting, skipping meals or dehydration can also serve as triggers.
  • Other triggers include hormonal changes, weather changes, and the use of medications such as vasodilators.

Treatment of Migraine Headaches

After your doctor makes a diagnosis, they may recommend one or both of two treatment options to help you manage your symptoms. There is no cure for migraines.

Abortive Treatment:

Your doctor may prescribe medications for you to use at the onset of a migraine episode. These medications stop the pain before it gets worse.

Preventive or Prophylactic Treatment:

Your doctor may recommend these daily dose medications to reduce the frequency of migraine episodes.

Most of the medication used to treat migraines can be acquired over-the-counter and can include:

When using OTC medications, you should inform your doctor and be careful not to use too much as it may lead to a rebound headache or dependency. Prescription medications often recommended to treat chronic migraines include:

  • Triptans like – Almotriptan (Axert), Eletriptan (Relpax), and Sumatriptan (Imitrex).
  • Ergotamines like – Cafergot, Ergomar, Migergot
  • Antidepressants
  • Antiseizure

Do you have frequent migraine headaches and would like to speak to a doctor about your symptoms? We can connect you with a doctor in your area.

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