A migraine is a neurological condition that has multiple symptoms and is frequently characterized by intense headaches. Some symptoms include nausea, vomiting, difficulty speaking and sensitivity to light or sound. Migraines are often genetic and affect all ages.
A diagnosis is determined based on clinical history, symptoms and by ruling out other causes. The most common categories of migraines are those without aura.
Women are far more likely than men to suffer from migraines.
The symptoms may begin a few days before the headache, known as the prodrome stage. Symptoms can include:
- Food cravings
- Frequent yawning
- Stiffness of the neck
In a migraine with aura, the aura usually occurs after the prodrome stage during which you may have problems with your vision, movement, and speech. Examples include:
- Difficulty speaking
- A prickling or tingling in your face, arms, or legs
- Seeing shapes, light flashes, or bright spots
- Losing your vision temporarily
The next phase is the attack phase. This is the most acute phase when the actual migraine occurs. This can sometimes overlap or occur during an aura and symptoms can last anywhere from hours to days. Symptoms may include:
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Pain on one side of your head
- Pulsing and throbbing headache
The postdrome phase follows, during which, there are usually changes in moods and feelings. These can be either feeling euphoric and extremely happy, or feeling very fatigued. A mild, dull headache may continue. The length and intensity of each phase can occur to different degrees in different people with one of the phases being skipped. It’s also possible that a migraine attack occurs without causing a headache.
Migraines cannot be cured, but your doctor can help you manage them to reduce the frequency and treat symptoms as they happen. Treatments can also help them less severe.
Your treatment will depend on:
- Your age
- Frequency of the migraines
- The type of migraine
- The severity
- The symptoms
- Other health conditions and medications
Your treatment plan may include a combination of:
- Self-care remedies
- Lifestyle adjustments, like stress management and avoiding triggers
- OTC pain or migraine medications
- Prescription migraine medications taken every day to help prevent migraines and reduce the frequency
- Prescription migraine medications taken as a headache starts to ease symptoms
- Prescription medications
- Hormone therapy in relation to your menstrual cycle
- Alternative care may include biofeedback, acupuncture, meditation, acupressure