Every one of us has experienced a headache at some point. But if you observe that it has more than pain as a symptom, then it could be a migraine. A migraine is so much different from an ordinary headache. It has many other symptoms including sensitivity to sound and light, numbness, vomiting, difficulty in speaking, and nausea. As a neurological condition, migraines are often hereditary and can affect any age group.
To diagnose if what you have is indeed a migraine, your clinical history will be examined as well as your symptoms. This step also helps to rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms. You can start to have migraines at an early age, especially if it runs in your family. Let’s take a look at the migraine symptoms.
Symptoms of a Migraine
The migraine symptoms can start a day or two before an actual headache. This is called the “prodrome stage.” Observe if you have any of the symptoms before having a headache because what you have could be a migraine.
• stiffness of the neck
• yawing frequently
• low energy or fatigue
• and food cravings
After the prodrome phase is the “attack phase.” As the name suggests, this is where the severe pains are felt. It can last from a few hours to as long as several days. The actual symptoms can be different from one person to the next, but these are the common symptoms:
• throbbing and pulsing pain in the head
• pain felt on one side of the head
• feeling faint or dizziness
• sensitivity to sound and light
When the attack phase is over, the postdrome phase will begin. In this phase, you will feel changes in your feelings and mood. You may feel euphoric and happy, or you may feel indifferent and very tired. A dull and mild headache may persist at this point.
Why Do Migraines Happen?
Many studies have been conducted to identify the causes of migraines. However, there is still no definitive cause identified. What researchers did find are the contributing factors which can cause a migraine. One factor can be brain chemical changes. Your serotonin levels may have decreased. Here are other reasons that cause a migraine:
• eating a particular food
• strong scents
• medications such as nitroglycerin or oral contraceptives
• sleep pattern changes
• meal skipping
• too much physical activity
• loud noises
• too much stress
• hormone changes during menopause, pregnancy, or menstruation
• intense heat or cold
• bright lights
• barometric pressure changes
How to Treat Migraines?
At present, there’s still no known cure for a migraine. But don’t fret. The studies being conducted to find a cure continues. Also, there are several treatments for it so as to ease the pain as well as the other symptoms.
While there are plenty of treatments, it may take some time for you to discover which ones work best for you. You may try out different types as well as a combination of treatments before you finally identify the best one that works.
What to Do During a Migraine Attack
If you are having a migraine attack, go to your bedroom where you can lie down. Make sure that it is dark because you’ll be sensitive to light at this point. Also, make sure that you’re not playing any loud music or that you tell your family not to make loud noises as you are also sensitive to those.
Another thing you can do especially if you’ve been vomiting is to eat something. It doesn’t have to be a heavy meal. Just eat something light and simple. You may start feeling better. In most cases, eating helps in taking your mind away from the pain.
Painkillers can be your go-to treatment for migraines. This can be ibuprofen, aspirin, or paracetamol. But make sure that you take them at the onset of a migraine because it will take time for your body to absorb the medication.
Don’t wait until your migraine is very bad already because then, the painkillers won’t work. What you can take at this point are soluble painkillers which you can dissolve in water. This will be absorbed by your body much quickly compared to the usual pills.
When taking painkillers, take a look at the packaging and read its instructions as well as dosage recommendations. If you are under 16 years old, you shouldn’t take these over the counter meds without your doctor’s approval. If you have any stomach, kidney, or liver problems, you should also avoid these painkillers.
There are several natural remedies to help ease the migraines such as acupressure, applying lavender oil or other essential oils, changing your diet, or signing up for a yoga class are just some of them. Whichever treatment or remedy you choose, be sure to inform your doctor about it first. How about you, what’s the treatment that worked for your migraine attacks? Share with us in the comments!
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.