Many people suffering from migraines may not be aware of the fact that they have migraine. If you have frequent headaches that affect your ability to function and cause vomiting or nausea, you might be suffering from a migraine.
What is a Migraine?
Migraine is a condition which is quite complex and includes a wide range of symptoms. Most of the people consider it as a type of headache. In the medical domain, it is also known as debilitating headache as the pain people go through is quite intense. There are mainly two types of migraines:
- With Aura (Classical Migraines)
- Without Aura (Common Migraines)
A Migraine with aura is a rare form of migraine which is also known as a migraine with brainstem aura. Its symptoms are loss of balance, double vision or fainting. Others symptoms include sensitivity to sound, light and smell, disturbed vision, feeling sick and vomiting.
The symptoms vary from person to person and everyone faces different symptoms in different episodes. A Migraine typically lasts from 4 hours to 72 hours.
Causes of Migraines
Researchers have not been able to pinpoint a particular cause for migraines. However, there are some factors which are responsible for migraines. These are:
- Extreme weather conditions
- Barometric pressure changes
- Hormonal changes
- Drinking alcohol
- Loud sounds
- Excessive stress
- Skipping meals
- Food which contains tyramine such as smoked fish, aged cheese, fava beans, hard sausages etc.
- Loss of sleep
Risks Associated with Migraines
Migraines cause many risks and complications. At times, migraines last for 3 to 15 days or even more in a month. It reduces your ability to think clearly. If you take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) in high doses or for a longer period of time, say 10 days a month for more than 3 months, it might result in a migraine.
If you take medications to control migraines, you are likely to experience a condition known as serotonin syndrome. Some of the medicines for migraines are:
- Zolmitriptan (Zomig)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
- Sumatriptan (Imitrex)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Paroxetine (Paxil)
- Fluoxetine (Sarafem, Prozac)
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
Prevention of Migraines
According to the report by Migraine research Foundation, approximately 36 million Americans face migraine headaches. Migraines cause symptoms that are quite annoying and debilitating in nature. Dizziness, vomiting, nausea, sensitivity to light, sound, and odors are some of the unpleasant symptoms that accompany the migraine headache.
You can avoid the problems caused by a migraine headache if you follow the following tips:
Avoid Bright Lights and Loud Noises
Choice of Food
Pay Attention to Weather
Eat and Sleep Regularly
Regulate Your Exercise
Flashing lights and loud noises add to the migraine woes. Though these are difficult to avoid, you can take care of certain situations like late night driving, frequently visiting movie theaters, overcrowded places, and sun glare. Apart from these, cut short the time you spend on computers. You can see a significant improvement in your condition.
According to the Mayo Clinic, food such as red wine, chocolates, processed meats, dark-colored alcohol, cheese, and sweeteners contribute to migraine symptoms. You can do some research on the type of food and its impact on migraines. Avoid the food that might bring a headache.
If you keep a diary, you can easily identify the specific migraine triggers. Make a note of your diet, your exercise schedule, the feeling you go through, and the medications and their side-effects. You will be able to identify a pattern in the migraine occurrences and can be avoided as well.
A change in weather highly impacts your migraine symptoms. Rainy weather, hot and humid temperature is likely to stimulate migraine headaches. Though it’s not always possible to stop going out in these weather conditions, still you can limit your mobility.
Fasting or skipping meals will stimulate the migraine symptoms. Avoid it and make sure you eat within 1 hour after waking up and have a small meal every three to four hours. Make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration as it causes headaches.
Lack of proper sleep is also one of the reasons for migraines. Sleep daily for at least seven to eight hours. This way, you can maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid migraines.
Daily exercise is a good way to maintain a healthy lifestyle but exercises such as weight-lifting should be avoided. They can cause a migraine headache. One should focus more on light exercises such as tai-chi, cardio, and yoga.
Medical Treatment of Migraines
The treatment of migraine prevents further attacks and stops the symptoms. There are many medications which are used to treat migraines. There are two categories of these medications:
- Preventive Medications – These medications are taken on a daily basis to minimize the frequency or the severity of migraines.
- Pain- Relieving Medications –
These medications are also known as acute or abortive treatment and are taken while the migraine attack happens. These are specially designed to stop the symptoms of migraine.
The kind of medications you are given depends on the frequency and severity of your migraine headaches and your overall health conditions. Some medications are not allowed to ladies who are pregnant or breast-feeding.
You are given preventive medications due to these conditions:
- If you are facing more than four debilitation attacks every month
- Attacks staying more than 12 hours
- Pain-relieving medications are of no use
- If prolonged aura, weakness or numbness is one of the signs and symptoms you are facing
Preventive medications reduce the severity, length, and frequency of migraines and increase the effectiveness of system relieving properties of medicines used during attacks. Some of the common medications used are:
- Cardiovascular drugs such as beta blockers propranolol, metoprolol tartrate and timolol
- Antidepressants such as Amitriptyline
- Anti-seizure drugs such as valproate and topiramate
- Pain relievers like naproxen
- Botox like OnabotulinumtoxinA
Pain Relieving Medications
These medications are given to you for better results. These are considered extremely effective in relieving the migraine symptoms. Popular medications include:
- Pain Relievers –
Anti-Nausea Medications –
These include aspirin or ibuprofen which are used for mild migraines. Drugs meant to be taken especially for migraines are a combination of aspirin, caffeine, and acetaminophen.
These constrict the blood vessels and block the pain pathways in the brain. These can be taken as a pill, nasal spray or with injections. The popular medications are rizatriptan, sumatriptan, naratriptan, zolmitriptan, almotriptan, frovatriptan and eletriptan.
This one includes a combination of drugs such as caffeine and ergotamine. These are most effective in cases where pain stays more than 48 hours. Ergots should be taken soon after the start of migraine symptoms for better results.
The popular and often prescribed medications are metoclopramide, prochlorperazine and chlorpromazine.
Migraine attacks can be fatal and detrimental to your health. If any signs or symptoms are visible, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Newport Family Medicine is a leading medical care provider in Newport Beach, California. We can discuss and give you the best solution for migraines. For more information, please call us at (949) 299-0326.
Newport Family Medicine, located in Newport Beach, CA, offers full-service family practice from pregnancy through childhood and adulthood to maturity. We provide comprehensive health care for people of all age groups.