What is a migraine
A migraine is a throbbing, intense headache in one half of the head. It can affect people of all ages. The cause of migraine is not known.
It used to be thought that during an attack, the blood vessels in the brain dilate and then draw together with stimulation of nerve endings near the affected blood vessels.
Possible symptoms of migraines
- Intense throbbing or dull aching pain on one side of your head or both sides
- Pain that worsens with physical activity
- Nausea or vomiting
- Changes in how you see, including blurred vision or blind spots
- Being bothered by light, noise or odors
- Feeling tired and/or confused
- Stopped-up nose
- Feeling cold or sweaty
- Stiff or tender neck
- Tender scalp
What might trigger migraine?
- Most people suffering from migraine are aware that different foods, such as cheese, chocolate, wine or citrus fruits, can cause the attacks.
Other things that may trigger an attack include
- contraceptive pill and travel.
- These particular causal factors vary from patient to patient. Some women experience attacks more frequently around the time of their menstrual periods.
Migraine sufferers should avoid factors such as alcohol, lack of sleep and foods that are known to cause attacks.
How is migraine diagnosed?
Your doctor can diagnose migraines by the symptoms you describe. If the diagnosis is not clear, your doctor will perform a physical exam. Your doctor might want to do blood tests or imaging tests, such as an MRI or CAT scan of the brain, to be sure that there are no other causes for the headache.
How are migraines treated?
- There are 2 types of medicines for migraine treatments. One type, called “abortive”, focuses on stopping the headache from becoming severe and relieving the headache pain. This type of treatment should be started as soon as you think you’re getting a migraine.
- The other type, called “prophylactic or preventive” includes medicines that are taken every day to reduce how often headaches occur.
Talk to your doctor about which of these two types of medicine is best for you. Some people use both types. Nonprescription and prescription medicines that are used often or in large doses may cause other problems.
What medicines help relieve migraine pain?
For mild to moderate migraines, over-the-counter medicines that may help relieve migraine pain include aspirin; acetaminophen an acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine combination; ibuprofen; and ketoprofen
People who have more severe migraines may need to try “abortive” prescription medicines. A medicine called ergotamine can be effective alone or combined with other medicines. Dihydroergotamine is related to ergotamine and can be helpful. Other prescription medicines for migraines include sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, eletriptan and frovatriptan.
If the pain won’t go away, stronger pain medicine may be needed, such as a narcotic, or medicines that contain a barbiturate. These medicines can be habit-forming and should be used cautiously.