Migraines are recurrent headaches that can affect men and women of any age. A migraine can last 4 to 72 hours. If your migraine occurs for at least 15 days every month for at least six months, then it is called as a chronic migraine.
According to research done by the American Migraine Foundation, it has been estimated that about 36 million people in the United States suffer from migraine headaches. Females are three times more likely than males to develop migraines, and around 3% of the Americans have developed chronic migraine disorder.
Triggers of migraines
The exact cause of a migraine is still not known. However, it is believed that certain triggers can give rise to a migraine attack. It is very difficult to find out the triggers that cause migraines to develop because they are not same in everyone. Some of the triggers include, but are not limited to:
- Skipping meals (breakfast, lunch, or dinner)
- Consuming alcohol, especially red wine
- Eating certain food that contains additives like monosodium gluconate, nitrates, etc.
- Being exposed to loud noises, strong odours, and bright light
Along with a headache, you may also experience other symptoms that can happen in a migraine attack. Other warning signs include vomiting, nausea, and sensitivity to sound, light, and noise. All these symptoms can also be experienced during a migraine. Some individuals also suffer from aura during an attack. Aura is responsible for causing sensory signs that occur anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes before the onset of a migraine. Symptoms of a migraine with aura include:
- Feeling mentally hazy
- Tingling and numbness in the face or hands
- Vision disturbances such as smell, taste, touch, or flashing lights
Management of a migraine
There is no migraine cure, but a variety of treatment options are available. Treatment of a migraine includes both lifestyle changes and medications.
Once you are diagnosed with a migraine, it is necessary that you change your lifestyle to reduce migraine symptoms. You need to avoid triggers that bring on an attack, develop healthy eating habits, and exercise daily to lessen the severity and frequency of a migraine episode. Limiting alcohol consumption and caffeine intake may also help in managing your condition.
Medications are a good option for people with the chronic migraine disease. Abortive medications are useful in treating a migraine once the attack has started. You can take the most out of this medication only when if you take them at the right time when the symptoms start to occur. Preventive drugs are also available to treat this complex neurological disorder. These drugs have been formulated to stop migraines before they develop. You must take such medications on a daily basis to prevent a migraine attack.
Maintain a diary to track symptoms
Try to maintain a headache diary and share the results with your health care specialist. Record the following things in a headache diary:
- Severity, frequency, and duration of migraine episode
- Sleep schedule
- Diet and eating schedule
- Stress level exposure to light, sound, and odors, especially petrol and perfume
- Menstrual cycle for women
- Exercise schedule
- Maintain a track of treatments, outcomes as well as adverse effects
This headache diary will help you and your health care specialist to determine what actually triggers your migraine so that you can stay away with those triggers.
Discuss symptoms with your health care specialist
It is important that your health care specials know all the symptoms that you have experienced. Diagnosing migraine depends on straight communication with your health care provider. There is no clinical test available to show that you have a migraine. Your health care provider will be able to determine that you have this complex neurological disorder only by discussing the history of your symptoms. However, some tests are performed to rule out other potential health conditions.