Migraine: The Triggers and Treatment Options

October 3, 2017 Brain Diseases 10609 Views


We have all experienced a headache at some point or time in our lives. These headaches may be mild or moderate but usually, go away in a while. Have you experienced a headache that is unusually painful and does not go away for a long time? Chances are that you may be experiencing a migraine attack. To know what causes a migraine, it is important that we understand what a migraine is. It is important to understand how it is different from a normal headache.

What is Migraine?

It is a severe, throbbing and pulsating headache that is usually accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound. These headaches are often recurring and may last anywhere between 4 hours to 72 hours. Unlike a general headache, a migraine usually consists of four stages.

What are its stages?

The first stage is known as the premonitory stage or the prodrome stage. As the name suggests, it is like a premonition or a warning to an upcoming migraine episode. It may occur a few hours or a day or two before the episode. Certain physical and mental changes characterize it. They are a light headache, irritation, craving for or aversion to food, fatigue and frequent yawning among others.

The second stage, known as the aura, can occur a few hours before the attack. You may experience visual disturbances such as flashes of light and bright spots. You may experience partial blindness, confusion, difficulty in speech and experience sounds that may not be present. However, not all patients experience an aura. The third stage is the attack stage where you may experience strong throbbing headaches on usually one side of the head. These can last for up to 72 hours and are accompanied by feelings of nausea, fatigue, sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness and even anxiety or depression. The last stage is known as the postdrome stage and occurs post the attack. You may either feel complete relief from the headache or may experience withdrawal symptoms like fatigue and tiredness, confusion, weakness, dizziness or vomiting.

What triggers it? 

Migraines are extremely painful and can be detrimental to the ability of a person to function efficiently. How then, do we prevent a migraine attack, considering there are no concrete known causes for one?

There is no sure way of avoiding it, but by identifying certain triggers, you may be able to avoid them. Certain foods and drinks such as aged cheese, processed foods, foods high in salt, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks can induce a migraine. However, skipping a meal altogether may also cause headaches. Similarly, changes in sleep patterns (sleeping less or too much, balance is key!) can also cause migraines.

Stress can cause a lot of physiological changes in the body. It is therefore, one of the major causes for a migraine attack. For women, hormonal changes such as those during menstruation, pregnancy or menopause can be a common trigger for a migraine. Certain medications like oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapies can also cause it. Exposure to stimuli like bright lights, strong smells or loud sounds and excessive physical activity is also instrumental in the onset of the attack.

Treatment for Migraine Headaches

The treatment for migraine could be medications like an ibuprofen, acetaminophen, triptans etc which can help in alleviating the symptoms of migraine. If the headaches are too frequent and extremely severe, you may be prescribed preventive medications that are usually taken on a daily basis. You too, can play a role in effectively preventing migraines by making a few lifestyle changes such as eating and sleeping regularly along with a moderate level of exercise. Meditation and other relaxation techniques like biofeedback can also help prevent migraine and control the pain that comes with it. You can also keep track of your attacks to be able to identify the triggers better and thereby preventing them in the future.

If you are suffering from Migraine and are looking for treatment, then book your appointment with a neurologist today. 

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