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Home > Symptom > Migraine Symptoms - Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention

Migraine Symptoms - Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention

Migraine Symptoms - Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention

Overview of Migraine

A migraine is more than just a bad headache. People can be affected by migraine in various ways, and the causes, intensity, symptoms, and frequency might change. Some people experience multiple episodes each week, while others may experience ocassionaly. You might spend days in bed if you have this neurological disorder, which causes terrible throbbing pain. Movement, light, sound, and other triggers may result in symptoms including brief loss of vision, irritation, difficulty speaking, pain, nausea, and visual abnormalities.

What is a Migraine?

Severe headache pain from migraines is also accompanied by other recognizable symptoms.

Migraine is frequently characterized by throbbing pain that lasts 4 to 72 hours in one area of the head and is accompanied by signs like sensitivity to light or sound, nausea, and vomiting. Before or during a migraine attack, some people have visual disturbances (auras) that might look like zigzag lines or flashing lights.

According to estimates, more than 10% of individuals worldwide suffer from migraines, which are most common in persons between the ages of 20 and 50 and afflict nearly three times as many women as males.

What are the Symptoms of Migraines?

A headache is a migraine's main symptom. Some people perceive pain as pounding or throbbing. It may start out as a dull ache and progress to mild, moderate, or severe pulsing pain. Your headache discomfort will worsen if you don't get treatment. In addition to hurting the front, back, or feel like it's impacting your entire head, pain might move from one side of your head to the other. Some persons have pain in their face, sinuses, jaw, neck, or around their eyes or temples.

Other symptoms of migraine headaches include:

  • sensitivity to smells, sounds, and light.
  • nausea, vomiting, an upset stomach, and pain in the abdomen.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • feeling very hot (sweating) or chilly (chills).
  • Feeling tired.
  • Dizziness and blurred vision.
  • Tender scalp.
  • Diarrhea (rare).
  • Fever (rare).

Symptoms of Migraine in Children

Many of the symptoms of migraine in children are similar to those in adults. These may consist of:

  • a headache that lasts 2–72 hours
  • a headache on one side of the head
  • moderate to severe pain
  • pain that gets worse with physical activity
  • sensitivity to light or sound
  • nausea or vomiting
  • aura, sensory disturbances such as flashing lights in the field of vision that may be the first symptom

Since young children may not be able to describe their symptoms, it might be challenging to identify migraine in them. The subjective nature of pain intensity presents another difficulty because children and their parents or caregivers may not have much to compare it to. These factors make migraine diagnoses in children under the age of two uncommon.

What are the Types of Migraines?

Below are the types of migraines

  • Migraine with aura (complicated migraine): An aura is felt by 15% to 20% of patients who get migraine headaches.
  • Migraine without aura (common migraine): This particular sort of migraine headache arrives suddenly without any prior warning from an aura. Even though that phase doesn't occur, the symptoms are the same.
  • Migraine without head pain: The aura symptom is present in silent migraine, also known as acephalgic migraine, but without the headache that usually follows.
  • Hemiplegic migraine: On one side of your body, you'll have temporary paralysis (hemiplegia), neurological alterations, or sensory changes. When a headache first starts, you can also experience momentary numbness, acute weakness on one side of your body, tingling, a lack of sensation, dizziness, or changes in your eyesight. Sometimes it comes with headaches, other times it doesn't.
  • Retinal migraine (ocular migraine): Along with a dull aching behind one of your eyes that may radiate to the rest of your head, you can have a momentary, partial, or whole loss of vision in that eye. The loss of vision could endure for a moment or for several months. A retinal migraine should always be reported to a medical professional because it may be an indication of a more serious problem.
  • Chronic migraine: When a migraine persists at least 15 days a month, it is considered chronic. Both the frequency of the symptoms and the intensity of the discomfort may vary. Unfortunately, using painkillers for headaches more than 10 to 15 days a month can make headaches much more common for people who suffer from chronic migraines.
  • Migraine with brainstem aura. Before the headache, you may have vertigo, slurred speech, double vision, or loss of balance with this migraine. The back of your head can be impacted by the headache. These signs typically appear out of the blue and may be accompanied by difficulty speaking clearly, ringing in the ears, and vomiting.
  • Status migrainosus. This sort of severe and uncommon migraine can linger for more than 72 hours. Both the headache and the motion sickness can be very painful. You may have this form of migraine as a side effect of some drugs or after medication withdrawal.

Who Gets Migraines

Although it might be challenging to anticipate who will experience migraines and who won't, there are some risk factors that may make you more susceptible. These risk elements consist of:

  • Genetics: Up to 80% of individuals who get migraines have a first-degree relative who also suffers from the condition.

  • Gender: Women are more likely than men to experience migraine headaches, especially between the ages of 15 and 55. Due to the impact of hormones, women are probably more likely to experience it.

  • Stress Level: High levels of stress may make migraines more frequent for you. Stress may result in a migraine.

  • Smoking.

Causes of Migraine

Migraine is a condition that results in headaches similar to migraines. Doctors are unaware of the precise cause of migraine headaches, despite the fact that heredity and changes in your brain seem to be involved. Even migraine triggers like fatigue, bright lights, or climatic changes can run in the family.

For a very long time, scientists thought that migraines were caused by changes in the blood flow to the brain. The majority of people today think that while it might exacerbate the discomfort, it does not actually cause it.

Current theories suggest that a migraine headache attack is most likely brought on by your trigeminal nerve, which delivers sensation to your head and face. This signals the release of hormones like serotonin and calcitonin gene-related peptide by your body (CGRP). The brain's lining blood vessels enlarge when CGRP is present. Neurotransmitters then contribute to pain and inflammation.

Common Migraine Triggers

Some common migraine triggers include:

  • Hormone changes: Menopause, hormonal birth control, or hormone replacement treatment may also cause symptoms.
  • Stress:  When you're under stress, your brain produces chemicals that may alter your blood vessels and result in a migraine.
  • Foods:  Aged cheese, alcohol, and food additives like nitrates (found in lunchmeats, hot dogs, and pepperoni), monosodium glutamate (MSG), and others may be to blame in some individuals.
  • Skipping meals
  • Caffeine:  Headaches can result from receiving too much or not receiving enough. Acute migraine attacks may be treated by caffeine alone.
  • Changes in weather:  A migraine may be brought on by a storm front, changes in barometric pressure, stron winds, or changes in altitude.
  • Senses:  Strong scents, bright lights, and loud noises might trigger a migraine.
  • Medications:  They can be brought on by vasodilators, which enlarge your blood vessels.
  • Physical activity:  Sex and exercise are included in this.
  • Tobacco
  • Changes to your sleep: When you sleep too much or too little, you could experience headaches.

Diagnosis of Migraine

Your physician will enquire about your medical history and symptoms. Keeping a diary of your symptoms and any triggers you've identified may be helpful. Write down:

  • What symptoms you have, including where it hurts
  • How often you have them
  • How long they last
  • Any other family members who have migraines
  • All the medicines and supplements you take, even over-the-counter ones
  • Other medicines you remember taking in the past

To rule out other potential causes of your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe testing, such as:

  • Blood tests
  • Imaging tests like MRI or CT scans
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)

Treatment of Migraine

There is no treatment for migraines. But several medications can either treat or even stop them. Typical migraine treatments include:

  • Pain relief: Many over-the-counter (OTC) medications are effective. Acetaminophen, aspirin, caffeine, and ibuprofen make up the majority of the components. Never administer aspirin to anyone younger than 19 due to the possibility of Reye's syndrome. OTC pain relievers should be used with caution as they may exacerbate headaches. They can cause rebound headaches or make you reliant if you use them excessively. Talk to your doctor about prescription medications that might work better if you take any OTC painkillers more than twice a week. They might recommend triptans, as well as the more recent ditans and gepants, as prescription medications that could effectively relieve your migraine headache. If these are appropriate for you, your doctor can let you know.
  • Nausea medicine: If you experience nausea in addition to your migraine, your doctor may prescribe medication.
  • Triptans: The chemicals in your brain are balanced by these medications. You can be given an injection, a nasal spray, a pill to swallow, or tablets to dissolve on the tongue. Examples include eletriptan (Relpax), rizatriptan (Maxalt), sumatriptan (Imitrex), and almotriptan (Axert) (Zomig).
  • Lasmiditan (Reyvow): This medication reduces sensitivity to light or sound, nausea, and discomfort.
  • CGRP receptor antagonists: If previous therapies don't work, your doctor may prescribe rimegepant (Nurtec) or ubrogepant (Ubrelvy).
  • Preventive medicines: Your doctor could advise them if other treatments are unsuccessful, you get frequent headaches or have four or more migraine days per month. To minimise the intensity or frequency of your headaches, you regularly take them. Seizure medications, high blood pressure medications (such as beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers), a few antidepressants, and injections of botulinum toxin type A are among them (Botox). Other CGRP antagonists that can prevent migraines from happening include atogepant (Qulipta), eptinezumab (Vyepti), erenumab (Aimovig), fremanezumab (Ajovy), and galcanezumab (Emgality).
  • Single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (sTMS): When you first get a migraine with aura, you place this device on the back of your skull. A magnetic energy pulse is sent to a region of your brain, which could cease or lessen pain.
  • Neuromodulation devices: To treat or prevent migraines, other devices that influence the vagus nerve and the trigeminal nerve can be used.

Prevention of Migraine

To prevent migraine symptoms, try the following steps:

  • Identify and avoid triggers: To determine the cause of your symptoms, keep a diary of their patterns.
  • Manage Stress: Meditation, yoga, and mindful breathing are all effective relaxation strategies.
  • Eat on a regular schedule.
  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Get regular moderate exercise.
  • If you experience migraines around your period or if lifestyle adjustments are ineffective, speak with your doctor about preventive medications.

Some new devices can also stop migraines. Cefaly is a device that resembles a headband and delivers electrical pulses to your forehead skin. Your trigeminal nerve is impacted, and migraine headaches are associated with it. Cefaly is used for 20 minutes once every day. You'll get a tingling or massaging sensation when it's on. In order to ease pain and aid in migraine prevention, gammaCore, another stimulator, provides a modest electrical signal to the fibres of the vagus nerve in your neck.

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