A To Z Of Migraine Symptoms
Migraine is a very complex genetic neurological disorder. There are many different types of migraine, and recent advancements in research has lead to a recognition that we must accurately diagnose and treat by migraine type to effectively manage migraine. This A to Z list of migraine symptoms covers some of the better known, common symptoms, as well as, some of the lesser-known, rarer symptoms. Some of the symptoms on this list are quite general and experienced by most people with migraine, whilst others are more specific to a particular type. You can learn more about migraine types and their specific symptoms here
A is for Allodynia Allodynia is the experience of ordinarily non-painful stimuli as painful. So, during migraine attacks, people may report that taking a hot shower hurts on the side of their head, or putting their head on a pillow may be painful. Even the weight of an earring pulling down the ear can be painful, as can brushing your hair or wearing your hair back in a ponytail. So ordinary stimuli, ordinary life experiences that wouldnt be painful outside the migraine attack, can be painful for up to 80% of people with migraine during attacks.
Read more about the phases of migraine here www.migraine.org.au/phasesRead more about triptans here www.migraine.org.au/triptans
Read more about hemiplegic migraine here www.migraine.org.au/hemiplegic Read more about abdominal migraine here www.migraine.org.au/abdominal
How Can I Tell If I Have A Migraine Or A Sinus Headache
Many people confuse a sinus headache with a migraine because pain and pressure in the sinuses, nasal congestion, and watery eyes often occur with migraine. To find out if your headache is sinus or migraine, ask yourself these questions:
In addition to my sinus symptoms, do I have:
If you answer yes to two or three of these questions, then most likely you have migraine with sinus symptoms. A true sinus headache is rare and usually occurs due to sinus infection. In a sinus infection, you would also likely have a fever and thick nasal secretions that are yellow, green, or blood-tinged. A sinus headache should go away with treatment of the sinus infection.
How Are Migraines Treated
Migraine headaches are chronic. They cant be cured, but they can be managed and possibly improved. There are two main treatment approaches that use medications: abortive and preventive.
- Abortive medications are most effective when you use them at the first sign of a migraine. Take them while the pain is mild. By possibly stopping the headache process, abortive medications help stop or decrease your migraine symptoms, including pain, nausea, light sensitivity, etc. Some abortive medications work by constricting your blood vessels, bringing them back to normal and relieving the throbbing pain.
- Preventive medications may be prescribed when your headaches are severe, occur more than four times a month and are significantly interfering with your normal activities. Preventive medications reduce the frequency and severity of the headaches. Medications are generally taken on a regular, daily basis to help prevent migraines.
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What Medicines Help Relieve Migraine Pain
For mild to moderate migraines, over-the-counter medicines that may help relieve migraine pain include:
- An acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine combination
People who have more severe migraines may need to try abortive prescription medicines. A medicine called ergotamine can be effective alone or combined with other medicines. Dihydroergotamine is related to ergotamine and can be helpful. Other prescription medicines for migraines include sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, eletriptan, and frovatriptan.
If the pain wont go away, stronger pain medicine may be needed, such as a narcotic, or medicines that contain a barbiturate . These medicines can be habit-forming and should be used cautiously. Your doctor may prescribe these only if they are needed and only for a short period of time.
What Is The Difference Between Migraine And Headache
While some people use these terms interchangeably, there is a difference between migraine and headache.
Migraine is a brain disease. It is a clinical diagnosis, and researchers have a good understanding of the changes that occur in the nervous system during a migraine attack. It is not just a headache. Migraine attacks can be disabling and often includes a collection of symptoms besides head pain.
Although researchers have a good understanding of the changes that occur in the nervous system during a migraine attack, these changes are not seen on scans or in blood tests. Doctors therefore diagnose migraine based on a specific set of symptoms rather than on any test results.
Headache is a general term to describe head pain. Headache or head pain is a common symptom of migraine, but not all headaches are migraine.
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What Can Be Mistaken For A Migraine Attack
Some other types of headaches, including tension headaches and medication overuse headaches, may sometimes be mistaken for migraine. Other conditions that cause pain in the head including sinus infections and the flu may also resemble migraine pain.
More serious conditions, including hypertension and stroke, can also cause symptoms similar to migraine. For this reason, its important to discuss your symptoms with a medical professional so you can work together on an accurate diagnosis.
Whats A Migraine Journal
- Keeping a migraine journal is not only beneficial to you, but it helps your healthcare provider with the diagnosis process. Your journal should be detailed and updated as much as possible before, during and after a migraine attack. Consider keeping track of the following:
- The date and time of when the migraine began specifically when the prodrome started, if youre able to tell its happening. Track time passing. When did the aura phase begin? The headache? The postdrome? Do your best to tell what stage youre in and how long it lasts. If theres a pattern, that may help you anticipate what will happen in the future.
- What are your symptoms? Be specific.
- Note how many hours of sleep you got the night before it happened and your stress level. Whats causing your stress?
- Note the weather.
- Log your food and water intake. Did you eat something that triggered the migraine? Did you miss a meal?
- Describe the type of pain and rate it on a one to 10 scale with 10 being the worst pain youve ever experienced.
- Where is the pain located? One side of your head? Your jaw? Your eye?
- List all of the medications you took. This includes any daily prescriptions, any supplements and any pain medication you took.
- How did you try to treat your migraine, and did it work? What medicine did you take, at what dosage, at what time?
- Consider other triggers. Maybe you played basketball in the sunlight? Maybe you watched a movie that had flashing lights? If youre a woman, are you on your period?
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What Are The Different Types Of Migraine Headaches
Most migraines are with or without aura. Several hours before the migraine starts, the individual feels depressed or may have anxiety with or without tiredness. Common and rare types of migraines are:
- Migraine with aura: This is a classic migraine. An aura can start 15 minutes to one hour before the migraine.
- Migraine without aura: This is a common migraine, as the patient may develop severe pain on one side of the head.
Rare types of migraines include:
- Migraine with brainstem aura
- Symptoms start suddenly.
- Symptoms may include speech disturbances, ringing in ears, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, or loss of balance just before the headache.
- This type of migraine is strongly linked to hormonal changes and mainly affects young adult women.
Who Gets Migraines What Are The Risk Factors
Its difficult to predict who may get a migraine and who may not, but there are risk factors that may make you more vulnerable. These risk factors include:
- Genetics: Up to 80% of people who get migraine headaches have a first-degree relative with the disease.
- Gender. Migraine headaches happen to women more than men, especially women between the ages of 15 and 55. Its likely more common in women because of the influence of hormones.
- Stress level. You may get migraines more often if youre high-stress. Stress can trigger a migraine.
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I’m Pregnant Can My Migraines Still Be Treated
Some migraine medicines should not be used when you are pregnant because they can cause birth defects and other problems. This includes over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Talk with your doctor if migraine is a problem while you are pregnant or if you are planning to become pregnant. Your doctor might suggest a medicine that will help you and that is safe during pregnancy. Home treatment methods, such as doing relaxation exercises and using cold packs, also might help ease your pain. The good news is that for most women migraines improve or stop from about the third month of the pregnancy.
What Are The Types Of Headaches What Type Of Headache Is A Migraine
There are over 150 types of headaches, divided into two categories: primary headaches and secondary headaches. A migraine is a primary headache, meaning that it isnt caused by a different medical condition. Primary headache disorders are clinical diagnoses, meaning theres no blood test or imaging study to diagnose it. A secondary headache is a symptom of another health issue.
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What Are The Treatments For Migraine
There is no absolute cure for migraine. However, lots of treatments are available to help ease the symptoms of a migraine attack.
When a migraine attack occurs, most people find that lying down in a quiet, dark room is helpful. Sleeping can also help. Some people find that their symptoms die down after they have vomited .
Most people affected by migraine will already have tried paracetamol, aspirin and perhaps anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen before they seek advice from their doctor. If ordinary painkillers alone are not relieving your symptoms, your GP might prescribe you a triptan to be taken in addition to over-the-counter painkillers . Triptans are available in different forms to suit individuals , although it is important to note that some people develop short-term side effects when taking triptans. Your doctor may also prescribe you anti-sickness medication. If your situation does not improve after treatment, you might be referred to a specialist migraine clinic.
It is important to avoid taking painkillers on more than two days per week or more than 10 days per month as this can in fact make things worse by triggering medication overuse headaches.
The Phases Of Migraine
Also known as preheadache or the premonitory phase, prodrome can mark the beginning of a migraine attack. This phase can last several hours or may even occur over several days.
Most people with migraine will experience prodrome, but not necessarily before every migraine attack. If a person with migraine is experiencing prodrome, his or her care team can study their symptoms and patterns to guide a treatment plan that may lessen the severity of the oncoming headache. During this phase, taking medication, minimizing/avoiding other trigger factors , and practicing mindfulness meditation, relaxation therapy, or other biobehavioral techniques, can even prevent headache in some cases. Prodrome symptoms vary from person to person but can include changes in mood, from feelings of depression or irritability to difficulty focusing. Other symptoms may include fatigue, sensitivity to light and sound, insomnia, nausea, constipation or diarrhea, and muscle stiffness, especially in the neck and shoulders. Symptoms that are especially unique to the prodrome phase of migraine include yawning, cravings for certain foods, and frequent urination.
Reviewed for accuracy by the American Migraine Foundations subject matter experts, headache specialists and medical advisers with deep knowledge and training in headache medicine. to read about our editorial board members.
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How Are Migraines Diagnosed
To diagnose a migraine, your healthcare provider will get a thorough medical history, not just your history of headaches but your familys, too. Also, they’ll want to establish a history of your migraine-related symptoms, likely asking you to:
- Describe your headache symptoms. How severe are they?
- Remember when you get them. During your period, for example?
- Describe the type and location of your pain. Is the pain pounding? Pulsing? Throbbing?
- Remember if anything makes your headache better or worse.
- Tell how often you get migraine headaches.
- Talk about the activities, foods, stressors or the situations that may have brought on the migraine.
- Discuss what medications you take to relieve the pain and how often you take them.
- Tell how you felt before, during and after the headache.
- Remember if anyone in your family gets migraine headaches.
Your healthcare provider may also order blood tests and imaging tests to make sure there are no other causes for your headache. An electroencephalogram may be ordered to rule out seizures.
What Medications Are Used To Relieve Migraine Pain
Over-the-counter medications are effective for some people with mild to moderate migraines. The main ingredients in pain relieving medications are ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, naproxen and caffeine.
Three over-the-counter products approved by the Food and Drug Administration for migraine headaches are:
- Excedrin® Migraine.
- Advil® Migraine.
- Motrin® Migraine Pain.
Be cautious when taking over-the-counter pain relieving medications. Sometimes overusing them can cause analgesic-rebound headaches or a dependency problem. If you’re taking any over-the-counter pain medications more than two to three times a week, report that to your healthcare provider. They may suggest prescription medications that may be more effective.
Prescription drugs for migraine headaches include:
Triptan class of drugs :
Drugs to relieve migraine pain come in a variety of formulations including pills, tablets, injections, suppositories and nasal sprays. You and your healthcare provider will discuss the specific medication, combination of medications and formulations to best meet your unique headache pain.
Drugs to relieve nausea are also prescribed, if needed.
All medications should be used under the direction of a headache specialist or healthcare provider familiar with migraine therapy. As with any medication, it’s important to carefully follow the label instructions and your healthcare providers advice.
Alternative migraine management methods, also known as home remedies, include:
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Learn More About Each Stage Of A Migraine:
One or two days before a migraine, you might notice subtle changes that warn of an upcoming migraine, including constipation, mood changes from depression to euphoria, food cravings, neck stiffness, increased thirst and urination or frequent yawning.
For some people, aura might occur before or during migraines. Auras are reversible symptoms of the nervous system. They’re usually visual, but they also can include other disturbances. Each symptom usually begins gradually, builds up over several minutes and lasts 20 minutes to one hour.
Examples of auras include:
- Visual phenomena, such as seeing various shapes, bright spots or flashes of light
- “Pins-and-needles” sensations in an arm or leg
- Weakness or numbness in the face, or one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking
- Uncontrollable jerking or other movements
A migraine usually lasts from four to 72 hours if untreated, and the frequency varies by the person. Migraines might occur rarely or strike several times a month.
During a migraine, you might have:
- Pain, usually on one side of your head, but often on both sides
- Pain that throbs or pulses
- Sensitivity to light, sound, and sometimes smell and touch
- Nausea and vomiting
After a migraine attack, you might feel drained, confused and washed out for up to a day. Some people report feeling elated. Sudden head movement might bring on pain again briefly.
Learn more about headaches:
What Are Some Migraine Risk Factors And Triggers
Some risk factors make you more likely to get migraine headaches. Other things may trigger a migraine.
Common migraine risk factors include the following:
- Family history: You are much more likely to have migraines if one or both of your parents had migraines.
- Sex: Women are more likely than men to have migraines.
- Age: Most people have their first migraine during adolescence, but migraines can start at any age, usually before age 40.
Common migraine triggers include the following:
- Food and drink: Certain food and drink may cause migraines. Dehydration and dieting or skipping meals may also trigger migraines.
- Hormone changes: Women may experience migraines related to their menstrual cycles, to menopause, or to using hormonal birth control or hormone replacement therapy.
- Stress: Stress may trigger migraines. Stress includes feeling overwhelmed at home or work. But you can also become stressed by exercising too much or not getting enough sleep.
- Senses: Loud sounds, bright lights , or strong smells may trigger migraines.
- Medicines: Certain medicines may trigger migraines. If you think your migraines might be related to your medicine, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medicine.
- Illness: Infections, such as the cold or the flu, may trigger migraines, especially in children.
Foods that may trigger migraines:
- Aged, canned, cured, or processed meat
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