Migraine is a common headache of moderate to severe intensity. A migraine headache can last between 4 and 72 hours. It is accompanied by symptoms such as sensitivity to light or sound, nausea, and vomiting.
Headache Symptoms are not the same for everyone. They vary in the frequency with which they appear, in the duration, in the intensity of the pain, and in the symptoms felt before and during the headache.
Most people may not know how troublesome a migraine can be. It is among the top 20 disabling diseases. People who suffer from it lose hours of work or see their productivity reduced when they suffer them.
An occasional headache is a very common experience, and most people consider it to be completely normal. However, when the headache increases in intensity, patients are not always clear about the type of headache they suffer from. The common types of headache are:
- Migraine – Migraine is more than just a headache; it is a complete group of symptoms that includes a moderate or severe headache. The headache lasts between 4 and 72 hours, but the rest of the symptoms can last much longer.
- Tension headache: A headache with mild or moderate pain is often perceived as a tight, squeezing pain on both sides of the head.
- Cluster headache: severe headache with pain centered around the eye socket.
Interesting facts about migraine:
- Migraine is most common between the ages of 25 and 55.
- It is a hereditary disease.
- Many migraines remain undiagnosed.
- Migraine is often misdiagnosed as a sinus or tension headache.
What are the causes of migraines?
Medical researchers are still studying the exact cause of migraine. In the past, migraine headaches were said to be a blood vessel problem, a reaction to stress, or the result of wrong food choices.
More recent research indicates that migraine is a disease that affects the nervous system. People with migraine headaches may have nervous systems sensitive to certain elements in the environment, called triggers. Exposure to triggers can start a chain reaction of chemical changes in the brain. In turn, this affects pain-sensitive areas of the brain and ultimately leads to a migraine attack.
Migraine is also related to family history. However, although the predisposition to have migraine is hereditary, the lifestyle and the routines that are followed help trigger the attacks.
Phases of migraine
A migraine is more than just a bad headache. It is a complex process that begins in the brain and triggers numerous other symptoms. There are different stages, or parts, to a migraine attack. To help reduce migraine pain and disorder, your doctor can suggest specific ways to treat migraine at each stage:
- The prodromal stage (pre-headache or pre-headache) is an early warning sign. Prodromal symptoms, such as those described in the next section, can be felt hours or days before a migraine. Experts suggest that it is possible to prevent a migraine from appearing by withdrawing from the environment or stressful situation or by doing relaxation exercises during this early stage. Understanding its symptoms can help you recognize when you will have a migraine.
- The headache or headache stage is usually the most painful and disabling part of a migraine attack. It usually begins with mild or weak pain on one side of the head and increases to moderate or severe intensity.
- Migraine pain can be so bad that it affects a person’s ability to do their daily activities. For many people with migraines, symptoms such as sensitivity to light or sound can be so severe that they often need to lie down in a darkened room until the attack is over.
- To relieve migraine pain, people can use different medications. However, with daily use, some of these medications, such as pain relievers, can cause headaches from overuse of medication (also called rebound headache). Medications can help relieve pain for a few hours, but taking them consistently can cause long-term (or chronic) headaches. Also, other medications to help prevent or treat headaches may not be effective. You must talk to your doctor about the best way to treat your migraine.
- Knowing when to treat a migraine is just as important as knowing what medications to take. Research shows that a drug’s effectiveness is greatly improved when it is taken while the headache is still mild, rather than waiting until the pain is moderate or severe. The duration of the migraine may decrease.
- Your doctor can help you find the correct medications. Be sure to ask how often and at what stage of the migraine attack you should take them.
- The postdromic (post-headache) stage (or recovery stage) begins after the peak of pain intensity. The pain gradually decreases and disappears. This stage can last up to 48 hours. However, you may have persistent symptoms, such as:
- Stomach problems, with nausea, dizziness, or food intolerance.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Muscle pain.
- General fatigue