Migraine pain is often severe enough to hamper your daily activities and may last from four hours to three days if untreated. The pain mostly affects the forehead area, usually on one side of the head, but it can occur on both sides, or shift.
The exact cause of migraine is not known. However women are three times more likely than men to suffer from migraines. Migraines often run in families and is more common among people who have epilepsy, depression, asthma, anxiety or stroke.
Types of Migraine:
- Migraine with aura; around 25% of people who suffer from migraines will have specific warning signs or an aura just before the pain. They may see flashing lights, or may have blurry vision or blind spots. These are called “classic migraine headaches.”
- Migraine without aura: used to be called common migraine. Most people with migraine don’t experience an aura.
- Migraine aura without headache, also known as silent migraine, where an aura is experienced, but a headache doesn’t develop.
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Migraine
Migraines have four different phases. You may not always experience every phase each time you have a migraine.
- Prodome: this phase starts around 24 hours before you get the migraine. Some people may experience early warning signs and symptoms, such as food cravings, fatigue, uncontrollable yawning, neck stiffness or increased urination. They may become more excitable, irritable or depressed. Others may detect a sensation, such as a funny smell or taste.
- Aura: occurs after the prodome phase in people suffering from migraines with aura. You may have problems with your vision, movement, and speech. These problems may include difficulty speaking clearly, seeing shapes, flashing or bright lights, having have muscle weakness, feeling a prickling or tingling sensation in your face, arms, or legs
- Attack phase: this is the most severe phase where the actual migraine pain occurs. The pain can be disabling, forcing people to miss work or other activities. Attack phase symptoms can last anywhere from hours to days and vary from one person to another. These symptoms may include:
- Increased sensitivity to light, noise, and odors
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Pain may increase when you move, cough, or sneeze
- Postdrome: following the attack phase you may feel exhausted, weak, and confused. This can last up to a day and a mild, dull headache may persist.
The length and intensity of these phases vary in different people. Sometimes, a phase is skipped.
Know your Triggers
The first step is to find out what triggers your migraine headaches. Each time you suffer from a migraine, make a note about the triggers, warning signs, and severity. Note what you were doing before your headache came on. Did anything stressful happen? What were you eating? How much sleep did you get?
Each person have their own personal triggers. Some of the most common culprits include:
- Stress; is one of the most common triggers of migraine headaches
- Menstrual cycle: for many women migraines are tied to their period, occurring either a few days before or during their period, when their estrogen levels drop.
- Certain food: that have tyramine in them, such as aged cheeses soy, smoked fish and processed meats, aspartame and food with nitrates, such as pepperoni and hot dogs trigger headaches in many migraine sufferers.
- Too much caffeine or withdrawal from it
- Skipping meals: low blood sugar from skipping meals can trigger a migraine. It’s important for people prone to migraine headaches to have a regular pattern of meals. Eating too much sugar also can cause a spike, then a “crash” in blood sugar.
- Bright or flashing lights: could set off migraines. This could be a reflection from water or from fluorescent bulbs or television or movie screens.
- Loud sounds or certain strong smells: migraines can be triggered by just about any of your senses. Just like lights, certain smells and loud noise can set off your migraine.
- Lack of sleep:or changes in your normal sleep pattern
- Extreme fatigue
- Changes in the weather
- Intense physical activity
Clues to Avoid Migraines
There is no cure for migraines. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing additional attacks. If you can discover some of your personal triggers, you may be able to avoid future headaches.
- Track your food triggers: write down what you ate and drank before you got your headache to find out your food triggers.
- Eat on a regular schedule: don’t skip meals and don’t let yourself get dehydrated.
- Cut down the caffeine: too much can cause migraines. But cutting back suddenly may also cause them. So ease off caffeine slowly, if it seems to be one of your headache triggers.
- Dim the lights: if light makes you wince in pain,wear dark sunglasses,draw the curtains and turn off the lights.
- Sleep on a regular schedule: If your sleep habits get mixed up, that makes a migraine more likely.
- Manage your stress: If you can, change some of the things that make you tense. Counseling and stress management can help you to calm down and decrease your stress.
- Ease the Tension: relaxing your feet can ease the tension in your head, put your foot on a tennis ball and roll it around. Another spot you can target for tension relief is the fleshy pad between your thumb and first finger. Pinch this area with two fingers.
- Protect your Senses: if someone’s perfume or other scents set off your migraine, sniff something soothing like mint or coffee beans. A substitute scent can block the smell that causes pain and may head off an attack. Go to a quiet area if loud sounds trigger your migraine. If you can’t, carry earplugs to block the noise.
- Stay away from screens: when you feel a migraine coming on. The blue light that glows from your screens triggers migraines.
- Wrapping a cold pack around your neck when a migraine hits can decrease your pain. Experts don’t know why that helps, but cooling down your blood may lower swelling and dull your pain.