Migraines – Not Just An Ordinary Headache!

by Richard H Ealom

INTRODUCTION: Migraine is a disease, a headache is only a symptom. These headaches, with nausea and vomiting, routinely begin in childhood and tend to becomes less severe and often with age. They can occur any hour of the day, though they frequently starts in the morning. The pain is produce by vasodilation in the cranial blood vessels (expansion of the blood vessels), while Headache pain is caused by vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels). The disease characteristics can include: Pain usually on one side of the head with a pulsating or throbbing quality, Moderate to intense pain affecting day to day activities, Nausea or vomiting, Sensitivity to light or sound.

Attacks normally last from 4 hours to 3 days, sometimes longer and visual disturbances or aura Exertion such as climbing stairs makes the headaches worse. Approximately 20 percent of sufferers experience aura, the warning associated with migraine, before the headache pain. It is often mis-diagnosed as sinus headaches or tension-type headaches and affects up to 15 percent of the population. Migraines can induce a host of serious physical ailments including strokes, aneurysms, permanent visual loss, severe dental problems, coma and even death. Sufferers experience not only excruciating pain, but social ostracism, loss of job, disruption of personal relationships, and prejudices in the workplace. These headaches appear to be caused in part by changes in the level of a body chemical called serotonin and they are not the same in everyone.

SYMPTOMS: May include Moderate to severe pain on 1 or both sides of the head, Pulsating or throbbing pain, Pain that becomes worse with physical activity, Nausea with or without vomiting, Sensitivity to light or sound. Approximately 20% of these people experience what’s called an aura before the headache pain. Symptoms of an aura include flashes of light, zig zags, or blind spots in your vision or tingling in an arm or leg. With a Classic migraine, a person has these visual symptoms ten to thirty minutes before an attack: sees flashing lights or zigzag lines, has blind spots or loss of vision for a short time. With a routine migraine, a person does not have an aura, but does have the other symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting. Females also tend to report higher levels of pain, longer headache time, and more symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting.

TREATMENT: Treatment is separated into eliminating particular triggers, control of the specific attack, and long-term prevention. There are two basic ways to treat migraine headaches with medicines: prevent the attacks, or relieve the symptoms during the attacks. A lot of people use both forms of treatment. Other home treatment plans can help, such as doing relaxation techniques and using cold packs. In your headache diary (you should keep one), make a list of home treatment methods that work for you in various situations.

Alternative medical treatments with medications belonging to the class known as the Phenothiazines have proven useful as non-analgesic alternatives for treating severe headaches.

At present, there is no recognized cure for the disease, only treatments for the symptoms. Furthermore, such treatments are not yet totally effective and sufferers may show a decreased tolerance to a variety of medications, treatments, and pain control regimens. As always, talk with your physician about what sets off your headaches and to help find the proper treatment for you.

CONCLUSION: Migraine is a real neurological disease and often becomes worse in the 1st trimester of pregnancy, but many women are headache-free later in their pregnancy. This disease and epileptic seizure disorders are also interrelated. Persons who suffer from these headaches are frequently dismissed as neurotic complainers who are not able to handle stress. It is the second most common kind of headache syndrome in the USA and is most commonly found in females, with a 3 to 1 female-to-male ratio. They can continue through the 30s and 40s.

Migraines afflict 28 million Americans, with women suffering more frequently (17%) than men (6%). This kind of headache is one of the most common problems seen in emergency rooms and doctor’s offices. Occurrence among females increases sharply up to age 40 years and then decreases gradually. Headaches tend to run in families, indicating that genetic factors contribute to a persons susceptibility to the condition.

The National Headache Foundation suggests you talk to your doctor about your headaches IF: you have several per month and each lasts for several hours or days, disrupts your home, work, or school life, you have nausea, vomiting, vision, or other sensory problems. Tests will be run to determine if you have migraine or not. Before your appointment, write down: how often you have headaches, where the pain is, how long they last, when they happen, such as during your menstrual cycle, other symptoms, such as nausea or blind spots, any family history of the disease. By just talking with your doctor, you may be able to give enough information to diagnose migraine.

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