The word migraine is a familiar one to most yet there is a lot of confusion surrounding them. Migraines are anything but straightforward. In fact, many medical professionals debate over the definition, cause, and treatment.
The basic foundation of the definition of a migraine according to Webster dictionary is a condition marked by recurring moderate to severe headache with throbbing pain that usually lasts from four hours to three days, typically begins on one side of the head but may spread to both sides, is often accompanied by a variety of symptoms. Some people believe that it is a genetic neurological disease.
Of course, there can be other causes in addition to genetics such as stress, trauma, or chronic illness. Many times the cause of a migraine disorder is unknown.
There are a total of four stages of a migraine, but not everyone encounters each stage which is prodrome, aura, headache, and post-drome. First, prodrome occurs one or two days before a migraine. Many people do not experience aura which is nervous system symptoms before or during a migraine. The stage headache also is known as the attack is an actual migraine which can last anywhere from 4 hours to 72 hours if untreated according to Mayo Clinic. Lastly, post-drome occurs afterward for around 24 hours.
Being able to recognize the signs of a migraine are essential. A migraine can be accompanied by an array of symptoms.
Some symptoms include
- extreme pain,
- light smell or sound sensitivity
- pain on one side
- pain down the neck
- vision changes
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- Puffy eyelid
- Difficulty concentrating
- Diarrhea – constipation
- Mood changes
- Food cravings
Symptoms of a migraine are vastly different for every person. Furthermore, symptoms may vary different episodes. Likewise, triggers are unique to everyone.
Some triggers include but are not limited to
- Hormonal Changes
- Foods such as aged cheeses, salty foods and processed foods
- Skipping Meals
- Lack of Sleep
- Additives in foods like MSG
- Drinks like alcohol or caffeine
- Sensory stimuli. Bright lights and sun glare can induce migraines, as can loud sounds. Strong smells — including perfume, or paint thinner
The majority of the time migraines are diagnosed on a clinical exam and from discussing episodes with a physician. Additionally, they will consider medical history, symptoms, and perform a neurological examination. Other medical tests may be ordered to rule out another illness or if the pain seems unreasonably severe or is unusual.