Are you suffering from migraine attacks? When you experience a migraine attack, it could cause you to have difficulties doing things that you would ordinarily do with ease. If you or someone you know is having problems because of migraines, then read along to find out more about it and the different migraine treatments available.
A person may begin to experience migraines as early as during his or her childhood years. There may also be some who only start to feel migraines during their early adulthood. According to statistics, migraines occur in females more frequently than men. If other members of your family suffer from migraines, it is highly possible that you will experience it as well. In this article, we’ll focus on answering the question “how long do migraines last?” We will also cover all the basic information that you ought to know about migraines so that you will be better equipped in managing it.
What are Migraines?
As a neurological condition, migraines can have numerous symptoms. When you have a migraine, you usually feel this debilitating and intense headache. Some of the symptoms of migraines that an individual may feel are sensitivity to sound and light, tingling, numbness, vomiting, nausea, and speaking difficulties.
To diagnose the condition as a migraine, your clinical history will be assessed as well as the symptoms you experience whenever you have a migraine episode. Also, other causes of this intense headache would have to be ruled out so as to reach a diagnosis. There are two common migraine categories: migraines without aura or common migraines, and migraines with aura or classic migraines.
Symptoms of Migraines
The symptoms of migraines may start even before the headache set in. Usually, the symptoms can manifest one or two days before you feel the headache. This stage of the migraine is called the prodrome stage. Here are some of the symptoms that you may experience:
• Stiffness of the neck
• Yawning frequently
• Low energy and fatigue
• And food cravings
If you have migraine with aura, during the prodrome stage, the aura will be apparent. For example, you may experience having problems with speech, movement, sensation, and vision. Here are some of the other challenges that you may experience:
• Temporary loss of vision
• Seeing bright spots, light flashes, or shapes
• Feeling tingling or prickling sensations in your legs, arms, and face
• Difficulty in talking in a clear manner
After the prodrome stage is the attack phase. During this time, the most severe or acute phases of the actual headache happens. There are some individuals that can experience an overlap of these phases. The symptoms of the migraine’s attack phase can last from some hours up to a few days. The symptoms that people suffering from migraine may differ. Here are some of the symptoms that may be experienced by people with migraine:
• Throbbing or pulsing pain in the head
• Pain on the different parts of the head such as the temples, back, front, right or left side.
• Feeling faint or dizziness
• Increased sensitivity to sound and light
When the attack phase ends, the next phase that comes after it is the postdrome phase. On this stage, the individual may feel changes in her feelings or mood. For example, there may be feelings of being extremely happy. Some may also experience feeling fatigued or just apathetic. Usually, a dull and mild headache will continue to persist.
The intensity as well as the length of the different phases of a migraine can vary from person to person. There may be instances that a person won’t experience one phase. For example, you may have a migraine attack but it won’t cause you to feel a headache. It may sound strange because migraines are usually associated with it. Nevertheless, it can happen.
What to Expect from Migraine Pain?
Many people who experience migraines describe the pain as debilitating, pounding, perforating, throbbing, and pulsating. There are also some that feel that it is a severe persistent headache. At first, the migraine pain may start as only mild. However, if you won’t seek treatment for it, then it can turn into a more severe pain later on.
The pain that you experience when you have a migraine usually affects the region around your forehead. It is common to feel it on one side only. However, it can be felt on both sides as well. Most people experience migraines that last for up to four hours. If you do not seek treatment or the treatment isn’t working for you, the migraine may last for up to 72 hours. In some cases, the migraine can persist for the whole week.
What to Expect from Migraine Nausea?
About half of the people who experience migraine also suffer from nausea. This symptom may also cause them to vomit. Usually, feeling nauseous can start when the headache begins. Most people who experience this say that they get nauseous an hour after the headache starts.
Nausea and the vomiting that can happen because of it may be difficult for the individual as the migraine pain itself. If you’re only experiencing nausea, then you may try taking your usual medications for migraine. However, if you are vomiting, you may not be able to take the needed medications. However, what you have to keep in mind is that if you delay taking your migraine meds, then the pain you’re feeling may become worse.
How to Treat Nausea and Prevent Vomiting?
When you have nausea but without vomiting, then your physician may give you a medication that may help ease the nausea. This medication is called antiemetic or anti-nausea drugs. It can help in preventing vomiting and also make you feel better when you’re nauseous.
Another form of treatment for nausea that can prevent vomiting is acupressure. There have been studies that show that acupressure can help in reducing the intensity of the nausea associated with migraine. But acupressure should be performed as soon as you start feeling nauseous. You will notice an improvement of your condition within the next four hours.
When nausea comes with vomiting, doctors will usually choose to treat them together by focusing on treating the migraine that you are experiencing. If the migraine attacks come with intense pain as well as vomiting, then you can talk to your doctor about medications such as prophylactic meds.
Treatments for Migraines
There is no cure for migraines. However, the doctor will be able to help you in managing them. This way, you will have less frequent migraine attacks. Also, the symptoms may be treated whenever they happen. Treating migraines will help in making the pain and discomfort you feel less severe. The treatments for migraines depend on the following factors:
• Frequency of migraine attacks
• What type of migraine you are experiencing
• The severity of the migraine such as the length of time an attack lasts, the intensity of the pain, and how it affects your every day functioning
• If the migraine attacks include nausea, vomiting, and other associated symptoms
• Other medical conditions present as well as the medications that you are taking
Here are the various treatments for migraines that may be recommended to you by your physician:
• Home remedies for migraine
• Adjustments in your lifestyle such as learning how to manage stress better and avoiding the triggers that cause migraine attacks
• Over-the-counter medications for pain like acetaminophen or NSAIDs
• Prescription meds for migraines that may be taken daily so as to help in preventing migraines. These medications will also aid in reducing the frequency of headaches
• Prescription meds that you may take once you start feeling that an attack is going to happen. This will keep the migraine from getting too severe. It will also help in easing the symptoms that come with it.
• Prescription drugs for vomiting and nausea
• If your migraine attacks happen along with your menstruation, then you may need hormone therapy
• Counseling may also help so that you can learn about how to better manage migraine attacks and prevent triggers.
• Alternative treatments are also some of the things that you can consider. These alternative treatments include acupuncture, acupressure, meditation, and biofeedback.
These are some of the basic information that you should know about migraines. Hopefully, you were able to get answers to common questions such as “how long do migraines last?” Migraine symptoms as well as the treatment for them vary from person to person. It is best that you talk to your doctor about it so that you will be given a specific treatment plan that will be able to address your discomforts.
If you are experiencing slurred speech, weakness in your limbs, fever, seizures, or loss of consciousness, don’t ignore it. Instead, immediately seek medical attention. Your migraine may be a symptom of another medical condition that should be treated so that the migraine attacks will stop or at least the frequency and severity of the symptoms may be lessened. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor about the many treatments available for migraine attacks and the accompanying symptoms.
Dr. Tymothy L. Flory graduated from Logan College of Chiropractic in St. Louis, Missouri. Before opening Atlas Brain Spine, Dr. Flory practiced Upper Cervical Chiropractic in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Flory completed Board Certification of the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association in 2012 and is currently a Credentialed Instructor for the organization.