Do you always feel pulsing or throbbing on one side of the head? Is your headache accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to sound, and light? Do you often see flashes of light across your field of vision? Then, you probably suffer from migraines.
What is Migraine?
It is a neurological condition that is characterized by intense and debilitating headaches. It usually affects any one side of the head but may also affect both. Scientifically speaking, one of the major causes of migraines is the changes in brain chemicals such as a decrease in serotonin.
Migraine symptoms may begin 1-2 days prior to the headache. This is known as the PRODROME stage. The early warning signs are food cravings, fatigue, frequent yawning, irritability, neck stiffness, depression, and hyperactivity.
The next stage is called the AURA where you might see light flashes, feel a tingling sensation in your face and limbs, feel trouble speaking clearly, and you might also lose your vision temporarily.
After this comes the ATTACK phase that marks the following symptoms:
- Nausea and dizziness
- Increased sensitivity to sound and light
- Throbbing and pulsating pain on one side of the head
The Aura and Attack phases may or may not overlap. These symptoms can last anywhere from hours to days. Next comes the POSTDROME phase that marks changes in mood and feelings. You may either feel extremely happy or feel fatigued and apathetic.
If you are a victim of frequent migraines, find out what triggers them, and then try to avoid them. Here is a list to help you identify your triggers.
Dietary Triggers: missed meals, alcohol, caffeine withdrawal, dehydration
Environmental Triggers: sunlight, bright or flickering light, high-altitude, travel, travel-related stress, strong smells like those of perfumes, chemicals, weather changes, loud sounds, screen overuse
Hormonal Triggers: menstruation, ovulation, oral contraceptives, pregnancy, menopause, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Physical Triggers: lack of sleep, viral infection/cold, back and neck pain, vigorous exercise
Emotional Triggers: arguments, excitement, stress, muscle tension
Not all migraines are the same. Continue reading to find out more.
Types of Migraine
There are two most common types of migraine – (1) Migraine without Aura, (2) Migraine with Aura
Migraine Without Aura
Following are the symptoms:
- Headaches that last for 4-72 hours if not treated properly
- Pulsating headaches
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to sound
- Nausea with or without vomiting or diarrhea
Migraine With Aura
Following are the symptoms:
- Visual problems
- Sensory problems such as numbness
- Speech problems
- Inability to control body movements
- Eye problems in only one eye such as temporary blindness
An aura usually occurs before the headache begins but may also continue after the headache starts. It may also start simultaneously with the headache.
Various migraine subtypes include Brainstem Aura, Chronic, Hemiplegic, Menstrual, Ocular, and Vestibular.
Photophobia: The Most Common Condition that Accompanies Migraines
Photophobia refers to an extreme sensitivity to light. It is the most common symptom of migraine. While everyone is sensitive to light to some degree, the patients with migraine are comparatively more sensitive both during and between attacks.
Bright lights, changes in the levels of light, and even bright sunlight can exacerbate the pain of a migraine. Bright light is cited as the most common trigger of a migraine attack. According to research, there are lower thresholds for light found in migraine headaches.
Dr. Rami Burstein, a neuroscience professor at Harvard Medical School and Vice-Chair of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, says photophobia is exceedingly common in people with migraine — between 85 and 90% of people with migraine experience sensitivity to light.
There is nothing much that can be done about this but it is recommended that people with photophobia or sensitivity to light should try to increase their light tolerance by gradually exposing themselves to brightness.
Here are top migraine remedies that will offer you migraine relief by taking your pain away.
- Inhale lavender oil
- Try acupressure
- Apply peppermint oil
- Consume ginger
- Add magnesium to your diet (almonds, cashews, peanut butter, eggs, milk, oatmeal, sunflower seeds, and more)
- Lie down in a quiet and a dark room
- Massage your scalp
- Place a cold cloth over your forehead
Migraines cannot be cured but they can be managed. Your treatment plan depends on your age, frequency of migraines, its intensity, health conditions, and medications you take. The plan may include self-care remedies as mentioned above, adjustments in lifestyle, counseling, and sometimes prescription medications such as NSAIDs.
Here are a few steps that you may want to take to help prevent a migraine:
- Try to avoid the triggers
- Stay hydrated (Men should drink at least 13 glasses of water and women, at least 8)
- Don’t skip meals
- Get a good night sleep
- Quit alcohol and smoking
- Don’t take stress
- Exercise regularly
Migraines aren’t typical headaches. If you get frequent migraines, the symptoms must be challenging to cope with. You might miss work and you may not be able to participate in the activities you love.
When a migraine strikes, you will do almost anything to make it go away. Won’t you? So, find out your trigger factors and try out the aforementioned remedies to find some relief.
Natural remedies are the best way to reduce migraine symptoms, severity, and duration. However, certain migraines may require medical treatment. And so, don’t hesitate to share your trouble with a doctor.
Keep track of your headaches and symptoms to prevent uncomfortable and debilitating pain. After all, knowing how to prevent a migraine is the first step to managing them.