Migraine headaches can cause varying amounts of pain for the people who suffer from this condition. Migraines can last for days and the pain is often excruciating. Although the exact reasons why some people get migraines are not fully known, there are various theories, such as brain chemical imbalances and brainstem changes.
It is also believed that there are numerous circumstances that can initiate a migraine. These include fluctuating hormones in females, certain foods and beverages, stress, weather changes, specific medications and vigorous physical activity.
Before, during and after a migraine headache, individuals may feel various symptoms as they go through one or more stages.
A day or two before a migraine, individuals may go through the prodrome stage which causes mood swings, a stiff neck and thirst. Individuals may experience the aura stage either before or while they are having a migraine. These symptoms include seeing spots or bursts of light, problems when talking and facial numbness.
The stage of attack, which can last up to 72 hours, may consist of throbbing head pain, light sensitivity, blurry vision and vomiting. Postdrome is the last stage and it often lasts for 24 hours. During this period, individuals may feel weak, dizzy and confused.
Environmental factors and genetics play a role in migraines, which are thought to be caused by brain chemical imbalances and changes in the brainstem. During a migraine, levels of serotonin drop causing neuropeptides to be released, resulting in migraine headaches.
There are several factors that may trigger migraines, including the following:
Age usually plays a factor in when migraines start. While migraines can affect persons of any age – they usually begin in adolescence and peak during your 30s.
Prevention of migraine
Migraine treatments are used to prevent headache symptoms and to avert episodes in the future.
Medications that relieve pain are taken when a migraine is occurring. Common prescriptions include triptans, opioid drugs, ergots, glucocorticoids and medications that help nauseousness. Other medications can be prescribed to prevent migraines or to lessen their intensity. These may include onabotulinumtoxinA, anti-seizure medication, antidepressants and beta blockers. Some individuals also try alternative medicine, such as massage therapy, acupuncture, herbs and biofeedback, to control or lessen chronic migraine headaches.
While migraine headaches may not be entirely avoided, there are some strategies you can employ to reduce the severity and frequency of migraine headaches.
There are preventative medications you can take to reduce and prevent migraines, including:
While these drugs are typically prescribed for other health-related issues, they work in prevention of migraines as well.
Lifestyle changes can also help to prevent the frequency and severity of migraines, including:
While there is no cure for migraines at this time, making a few lifestyle changes can help to reduce the frequency of these headaches.