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Migraine Headache: Things You Need To Know About Migraine

Dr. Shahzad Anwar

2 min read

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If you suffer from persistent long headaches, you may be suffering from Headaches. While there is no cure for a Migraine, there are treatments available that may help you manage it. Read below to learn a few basic facts about Migraines.

What is migraine?

Migraine is a type of headache disorder that is caused by alteration in the brain activity. It is not a symptom of an underlying disease, but is a condition itself.

How common are they?

It is a common type of headache that affects nearly 15 % of the world population. It can affect both males and females, of all ages. However, it is most common in adult females between ages 25 – 40 years.

How can I tell if I have a migraine?

A migraine may present as a severe throbbing or pulsating pain, usually on one side of the head. Headache tends to last for hours to days. It is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and sensitivity to light, smells, and sound. The intensity of the pain may vary from person to person but generally, it is quite intense.

Sometimes headaches are preceded or accompanied by temporary visual or sensory disturbances called “Aura”. These present in form of flashes of light, bright or blind spots, alteration in vision, or tingling sensation on skin of face or hands.

Once the pain has dissipated it is likely that you will feel confused and drained. Sudden head movement may briefly bring the pain back so it may be best to lie still for some time after you feel that the pain has dissipated.

Are there different kinds of migraine?

Based on the duration and nature of symptoms that accompany the headache, migraine can be sub-divided into six different categories. However, they are primarily divided into two broad categories. These are “migraine with aura” and “migraine without aura”.

What causes a migraine?

The exact causes of migraine are not fully understood. However, genetics and environment factors appear to play an important role. Migraines are suggested to be caused by alteration in brain activity and its interaction with the major nerve of the face and head region (trigeminal nerve).

There are certain environmental factors that can exacerbate or trigger headache. These include stress, certain foods (processed foods, canned foods, and chocolates), changes in eating pattern (skipping meals), alteration in sleep cycle (lack or excess of sleep), and intense physical exertion. Hormonal changes have also been associated with the condition as it has been seen in mensuration women.

Although pretty much anyone can develop the condition, studies have found that people with sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, OCD and some other mental disorders are more likely to have them than those who have no mental disorders at all.

Similarly, odds of you developing migraine also increase if you used to experience motion sickness in your childhood, or have a family member that suffers from them or used to suffer from them.

Can migraines be treated?

There is no set cure for migraines. However, there are numerous treatments available that help in management of migraine. Foremost, simple lifestyle alterations, such as identifying and avoiding environmental triggers can be very helpful in reducing frequency of headache episodes.

There are multiple types of specialized medications and injections available that can help in aborting or preventing episodes of migraine. The correct choice of treatment depends on the type of migraine, duration and frequency of episodes, and your general medical health. Pain medication is often prescribed to those who experience regular headaches, especially if they are experiencing a large amount of pain. Though this depends on what other medication the individual may be taking and how intense and regular the headaches are.

When should I seek help for my headaches?

You should seek help if you are regularly experiencing episodes of headache, any episode of headache that results in severe pain or debilitation, or in case of migraine that are accompanied or preceded by temporary visual or sensory alteration. Although these rarely require any sort of urgent care, it is always good to let your doctor know that you are experiencing them if they start happening regularly.

Similarly, see your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if you have an abrupt severe headache like a thunderclap, or have had a change in usual pattern of your routine headache. New headache if you are older than 50 years, or presentation of a headache with fever, stiff neck, confusion, trouble speaking, or after a head injury necessitates a comprehensive medical review as well.

About the writer:

Dr. Khawaja Shehryar Nasir is a diplomat of American board of Orofacial Pain. He is currently practicing as an Orofacial Pain and Headache Medicine Consultant in Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre. You can now book an appointment with him through oladoc.com for your Pain Management related needs.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Shahzad Anwar - Author Dr. Shahzad Anwar is an orthopedic surgeon and pain management specialist in Lahore. He has deep expertise and interest in Pain Management, Cancer Pain Management, Stem Cell Treatment, PRP Treatment, and Acupuncture.
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