A migraine can be defined as a headache that is characterized by frequent headaches, which might vary in severity. The headaches usually affect one half of the head and are pulsating in nature. Migraine might also last from 2 hours to up to 3 days. Other symptoms that are associated with a migraine are vomiting, nausea, increased sensitivity to light, increased sensitivity to sound, and smell. The signs and symptoms of this diseases become worse the more the individual engages in physical activities.
According to studies, about one-third of all cases of people affected by the disease do have an aura. The aura is a short duration in which patients might feel some discomfort, that signals that a headache is imminent. Although the exact cause of a migraine isn’t known yet, environmental and genetic factors play a huge role. About two-thirds of migraine cases are reported to be due to genetics. In addition, it has been discovered that hormone level plays an important part in the development of this condition. Migraine tends to affect more boys than girls, especially before they hit puberty. However, the chances of having migraine reduce during pregnancy, which can be attributed to the increase in the level of hormones. Migraine can be treated with medications. Medications such as pain relievers, examples of which include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen can be used. Also, it’s important to avoid the triggers of a migraine. This medical condition is one of the most common causes of disability in the developed world.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Migraine?
A migraine usually begins after people hit puberty or early adulthood. A migraine has 4 stages, which includes prodrome, aura, headache, and post-drome. However, people don’t usually experience all the 4 stages.
Prodrome: This occurs a day or 2 before a migraine The patient might notice some signs that’d indicate an upcoming migraine. Some of the signs and symptoms of the prodrome stage include the following;
- Sudden changes in mood: Patients affected by a migraine do have sudden changes in their mood. They can go from being happy to being sad within a short period of time. They can also go from depression to euphoria.
- Problems with the gastrointestinal system: Patients might experience digestive problems such as constipation. On the other hand, some patients might have increased cravings for food.
- Neck rigidity.
- Patients affected by a migraine might also present with thirst and increased urination.
- There are also cases of increased yawning in some people affected by a migraine.
Aura: This might occur before or after migraines. It’s what some people affected by a migraine do experience before the episode starts. However, not everyone affected by a migraine does have auras. Auras can be defined as the signs and symptoms of the nervous system. Some of them include visual problems, such as blurry vision, flashes of light and so on. In addition, the aura can present as changes in movement, speech, and sensations. Patients might also experience weak muscles. These symptoms are progressive in nature, and develops over minutes and might last for up to one hour. Examples of migraine aura include the following;
- Visual phenomenon: Patient might complain of seeing different shapes, flashes of light and so on.
- Loss of vision
- Weakness in the face, or on a side of the body
- Speech problems: Migraine patients might have difficulty speaking properly.
- Auditory problems: Noises and loud music tend to trigger the development of a migraine.
- Irregular movement: People affected by a migraine might present with movements they can’t control. This can be in the form of jerky movement.
- Attack: Migraine attack usually lasts between 4 hours to 3 days. However, headaches do vary in severity in different people. Migraines can occur many times a month, and might just be seldom. People affected by a migraine might present with the following symptoms;
- Patients might experience pain on one side, or on both sides of the head
- Patients might also present with pulsing or throbbing pain.
- Patients become sensitive to sensations such as light, sounds, smell and even touch.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred visual sight
- In severe cases, the patient might present with dizziness, lightheadedness and eventually faint.
Post-drome: This is the final phase of a migraine. This occurs after a migraine attack. The patient might feel exhausted and washed out. On the other hand, some patients might feel a euphoria. Some of the other symptoms experienced in the post-drome period include the following;
- Increased sensitivity to light, sound and sometimes smell
What Are The Causes Of Migraine?
Although the exact causes of a migraine aren’t known yet, it’s usually caused by a combination of both environmental and genetic factors. According to research, migraine can also be caused by changes in the brainstem and in body hormone levels. In addition, an imbalance in the level of chemicals of the brain also plays an important role in the development of a migraine. For example, serotonin has been implicated in the pain in the nervous system. It has been observed that the level of serotonin reduces during migraine attacks. This causes the trigeminal nerve to release neuropeptides. This eventually leads to migraine pain. Below are the common causes of a migraine;
- Hormone levels: Changes in the level of estrogen is a trigger of headaches in women. Most women do present with a migraine just before or after their menstrual period.
- Drinks: Drinks like alcohol caffeine are a trigger for a migraine.
- Stress: Stress is a trigger for a migraine.
- Foods: There is some special kind of food that triggers a migraine. Examples of this food include cheese, and foods containing a high amount of salt.
- Food additives: Food additives are a common trigger of a migraine.
- Sensory stimuli: Stimuli such as light, noise and even smell can trigger a migraine.
- Drugs: Drugs such as contraceptives, vasodilators can trigger a migraine.
- Sleep pattern: Lack of sleep or excess amount of sleep can also trigger a migraine.
- Physical factors: Activities such as physical exertion, sexual activities can trigger a migraine.
- Genetics: Some people are more prone to developing a migraine.
When To See A Neurologist Near Me
You should see a neurologist if you’re over the age of 50, and experiencing chronic headaches. Other indications of seeing neurologist include nausea, vomiting, confusion, and difficulty in speech.
MacGregor, A. (2013). A menstrual migraine, migraine and contraception, migraine and pregnancy and migraine triggers. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 14(S1).
Russell, M. (2001). Genetics of a migraine without aura, migraine with aura, migrainous disorder, head trauma migraine without an aura and tension-type headache. Cephalalgia, 21(7), pp.778-780.
Yamane, K. (2014). Progression from an episodic migraine to a chronic migraine. Rinsho Shinkeigaku, 54(12), pp