Tips to deal with a migraine
Know what a migraine is and how to deal with migraine headaches
What is the difference between a migraine headache and a regular headache? There are several causes of headaches that can range from whiplash to sinusitis and other symptoms caused by infectious viral or bacterial diseases.
A migraine, however, is a very severe headache that is preceded by other symptoms. Many people suffer from migraine headaches and when they have one, they can be in agony for hours or even days.
The cause of migraine headaches in not known and there is no known cure, but medications are available to treat or at least mitigate the symptoms of a migraine headache.
Usually a migraine headache begins with auras which are basically warning symptoms that are sensory abnormalities such as light or hot flashes, blind spots, nausea, or vomiting.
In most cases, when a person suffices from a migraine headache, the pain can be so excruciating that all that person will want to do is find a dark room that is quiet where he can lie down. Migraines can also be so severe that it can hinder the daily functions of life such as work, socializing with friends, etc.
Various aspects of migraine headaches and its triggers are unknown, but some doctors believe that migraines are triggered by a chemical imbalance in the brain with the chemical known as serotonin being the culprit. In a migraine, the serotonin levels in the brain can drop and the regulating mechanism that regulates the sensing of pain in the nervous system may be partially to blame.
Other triggers of migraine headaches can be certain foods or drinks. The main culprits for drinks are alcoholic beverages, especially beer and red wine. Many of the diet soft drinks or pops can cause migraines due to the amount of aspartame, caffeine or monosodium glutamate.
Foods that can trigger migraines include aged cheese and chocolate. If you see yourself having migraines after eating these above-mentioned foods, stop eating those foods to see if the migraines cease.
Sensory triggers can also cause migraines such as excessive light or sun glare and extremely loud noise.
Risk factors for migraine headaches are:
1. Family history. Your family history can also determine whether you will have migraines or not. If you have close blood relatives suffering from migraines, you are likely to have them too.
2. If you are under forty years of age. Most migraines start in people who are in between the ages of 20-39 years of age. This may not necessarily be etched in stone, but if you are sooner to migraine headaches, you are more than likely to have your first migraine when you are in your twenties.
3. Women are at high risk for migraines. Men can have them too, but women can undergo extreme hormonal changes that can trigger migraines. Girls in puberty and women in early adulthood are three times more likely to have migraines than men.
4. Hormonal changes can also be a big risk factor. When women are going through their menstruation cycle, hormones can go wild. This can make the conditions right to trigger a migraine headache. Some women can also suffer from migraines during their first trimester of their pregnancy and at the onslaught of menopause.
Testing for migraine headaches can be done by your doctor reviewing your family history. Furthermore, not all heads are caused by migraines. Your doctor may conduct several other tests to rule everything else out. Some of these tests are as follows:
1. Computerized tomography or CT is one of the tests that may be conducted. A CT is an imaging procedure that takes a series of X-ray type images of your head, providing doctors with cross sections of your brains. With these images, your doctor can diagnose all sorts of abnormalities such as tumors, infections and other diseases that can cause headaches.
2. Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI can also be employed to diagnose the cause of your headache. An MRI works by emitting radio waves and a very strong magnet to produce highly detailed cross sections of your brain and can diagnose minute abnormalities that can range from mild strokes to hemorrhaging and even tumors.
3. The last option is a marginal tap which is painful. A spinal tap is a puncture of your lumbar and the fluids can then be examined under a microscope. This test is usually conducted if your doctor believes that you may have other diseases such as meningitis, an infection of the cerebrospinal fluid, which is the fluid that protects your brain and spinal cord.
There are a large variety of drugs available to treat migraines but they may not all be effective for all sorts of migraines.
1. Aspirin, ibuprofen, or Advil can be good over-the-counter medications to treat mild migraines, but for moderate to severe migraines, these drugs may not be strong enough.
2. For extremely severe migraines, your doctor may prescribe triptans to be taken at the onslaught of the attack. Other drugs that are good for severe migraines include ergotamine, which is less expensive but not as effective as triptans to treat migraines. Usually a dose of ergotamine can last for as long as 48 hours.
3. As many migraines are accompanied with nausea or even vomiting, sometimes you may need to take medications to control the nausea during a migraine attack. For nausea accompanied by migraines, usually metoclopramide and prochlorperazine are often prescribed.
4. If the migraine pain is very different, opiates and narcotics, such as codine, can be prescribed to abate the pain. The only drawback to opiates and narcotics is that these can be addictive.
If you are pregnant to having frequent migraines, you might think about preventive medicine. Preventive medicine can range from changing your diet to prescription drugs. Even though preventive medications are available, only one out of ten people take it.