A migraine is a severe type of headache that interferes with daily activities. A migraine headache can last only a few hours, or it can persist for several days. The exact cause of a migraine headache is not known, but experts believe these headaches triggered by chances in body chemicals and extra sensitive nerves in the brain.
In America, more than 37 million people suffer with migraine headaches. Some research studies estimate that 10% of the U.S. adult population have migraines, and 2 to 3 million people have chronic migraine headaches. Reports indicate that almost 5 million people experience at least one migraine each month.
Who gets migraines?
Women are more likely than men to suffer from migraine headaches, with rates of 18% compared to 6% for the two genders. Migraines occur more often in low income groups, Caucasian people, and those who are between the ages of 35 and 55 years old.
What can trigger a migraine headache?
People with chronic migraine headaches report certain things as triggers. These include:
- Sunlight or bright flashing lights
- Loud noises
- Smoke or strong smells
- Certain foods, such as chocolate, hard cheese, alcohol, or red wine
- Hormone changes from pregnancy, birth control pills, menopause, or monthly menses
- Eye strain
- Oversleeping or not sleeping enough
- Not eating enough or going too long without eating
How do you know a migraine headache is about to start?
There are several warning signs that begin 15 to 60 minutes before a migraine starts. These warning signs include:
- Auras – Visual changes that make the vision blur, blind spots, lines, or hallucinations.
- Tiredness – Includes drowsiness or frequent yawning.
- Tingling – Can be in the arm, leg, or side of face.
What are the signs and symptoms of a migraine headache?
A migraine headache is more than just head pain. It usually begins as a dull ache around the temple or eye, usually near the hairline. Some people report throbbing, pounding, and pulsing of the entire head.
The pain of a migraine often increases after onset and prevents usual activities. Most all people have associated nausea and vomiting along with the headache, and sensitivity to noise, light, and certain smells is common.
How does the doctor diagnose migraine headaches?
The Chicago migraine specialist will take a detailed medical history and conduct a physical and neurological examination. This involves checking pupils reaction to light, assessing grasp and balance activities, and evaluating memory and cognitive ability.
Part of the work-up includes tests, such as an MRI and/or CT scan. These tests can rule out tumors and serious brain problems. This test allows the doctor to visualize the brain, head structures, and blood vessels.
How are migraine headaches treated?
There is no cure for migraine headaches for people who suffer with them chronically. The goal of treatment is to reduce the frequency of the headaches and to alleviate symptoms. The types of medicines used include:
- Preventive medicine – These drugs prevent the occurrence of the migraine headaches.
- Pain medicine – These drugs eliminate or reduce pain when a migraine occurs. this includes the option for abortive and/or preventive medications.
- Migraine medicine – These drugs prevent the migraine if taken as soon as the headache begins.
- Anti-nausea medicine – These drugs prevent vomiting and ease away nausea.
- Procedures – occipital blocks and Botox injections for migraine relief and reduction.