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21 / 09 / 2014
Migraine
 
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Migraine

Diseases & Conditions A-Z
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BRAIN & NERVOUS SYSTEM

Pain

  • Migraine
  • Back pain
  • Tension-type headache
  • Phantom pain
  • Cluster headache
  • Sciatica
  •  

    Migraine pain can be excruciating and may incapacitate you for hours or even days. Although any head pain can be miserable, migraines are often disabling. In about 15 percent of cases, these painful headaches are preceded by a sensory warning sign (aura), such as flashes of light, blind spots or tingling in your arm or leg. Migraines are also often accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

  • Headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • Fortunately, migraine pain management has improved dramatically in the last decade. If you've seen a doctor in the past and had no success, it's time to make another appointment. Although there's still no cure, medications can help reduce the frequency of migraines and stop the pain once it has started. The right medicines combined with self-help remedies and changes in lifestyle may make a tremendous difference for you.

    IS MIGRAINE REAL?

    Statistics, Facts & Studies:

    • Migraine is more common in women than in men. Striking women 3 times more than men.

    • Research has confirmed that migraines may increase a person's risk of a stroke.

    • It is thought that migraines affect up to 20% of the population.

    • Studies have shown up to 59% of women and 70% of men with migraines have never been diagnosed by a doctor.

    • The tendency to develop migraines can be inherited. Studies show that if one parent has them the child has a 40% chance of having them. If both parents have migraines the child has a 75% chance.

    • Vascular (migraine) is common between the ages of 15 and 55.

    • 70% to 80% of sufferers have a family history of migraine.

    • About 10 to 20% of migraine sufferers experience aura (visual blind spots, bright lights, zigzags, or distorted images) around 10 to 30 minutes before the pain begins.

    • Those whose parents don't experience migraine but have a relative who do have a 28% chance of developing migraines. 3% of children under 7 years old get migraines; 5% between the ages of 7-12; and 10 to 20% teenagers.

    • About half of all children who get migraines stop getting them during their teenage years and a quarter during early adulthood.  

    • There are certain headaches that should not be ignored. 

    • Migraine frequency tends to peak during the teenage years and early twenties. Another peak occurs between the ages of thirty-five and forty-five. The older people become, the less likely they are to have migraine headaches.

    • Recent studies have found migraines often have a pattern, are triggered by certain things and can occur with seasonal patterns. It has been found that women were more often to seek help at hospitals in the spring. Studies have also found the time of day to be a factor. Sufferers report having migraines more often between 6 A.M. and 10 A.M. and also that they're least likely around 8 P.M. to 4 A.M.

  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Stroke

  • What Is A Migraine Headache?

    The medical profession doesn't exactly know what causes migraines to begin. There are clues, however. Research has indicated that it begins in the area of the brain stem and then as the migraine develops, alterations in the brain's physiology follow. 

    The chemical chain reactions that cause a migraine are different than say a tension headache. The blood vessels constrict with the beginning of a migraine due to a hormone called serotonin secreted by blood platelets. These are smaller than red blood cells and are part of the protective clotting system.  

    This is what is thought to happen to cause the headache: 

    For certain people, ones with the migraine gene, a mild instability of the nervous system and blood vessels it begins when a tiny spreading Depression of tiny electrical currents travel from the back to the front of the brain.

  • Depression
  • Headache
  • This causes the blood vessels in the brain to tighten and deliver less blood. Then, a hormonal combination of serotonin and thromboxane cause a dramatic decrease of blood flow to the brain. This is where certain migraine sufferers may experience aura, blurry vision, or dizziness from the partial blood shut down. Next, serum serotonin levels drop a lot; blood vessels dilate fast. This causes intense, terrible pounding pain. The reason it feels like pounding is because the blood pulsing through the swollen arteries are in time with the pounding of the heart. Then, in the post headache phase, the headache slowly subsides, but is not replaced by a constant pain. Blood vessels become thicker and more rigid. When blood vessels rebound, they dilate, or swell up. This may cause them to leak a small amount of pain-causing chemicals into the skin of the scalp. So, now, what happens is the structures in the head that may hurt are the nerves, blood vessels, and the covering of the brain, not the brain itself. Nerve endings can become so sensitive that just running ones fingers through ones hair may hurt.

    Other known facts about migraine characteristics:

  • Pain is typically on one side of the head.
  • Pain has a throbbing or pulsating feel.
  • Moderate to intense pain, which affects daily activities.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting.
  • Sensitivity to light and sound.
  • Attack can last 4 to 72 hours, and sometimes much longer.
  • Visual disturbances/Aura, zigzagging lighting bolt lines, peripheral vision loss.
  • Exertion such as climbing stairs, running, or impact  Sports make Headaches worse.
  • Migraine is an illness, not a symptom. Like other chronic conditions it most often can be managed and controlled, yet realize that it can't be cured. People with migraine shouldn't feel guilty. They don't cause their headaches like many may believe. There is still much misunderstanding about this illness. It is an inherited (biological abnormality) of the central nervous system. Because there is a change in the brain physiology it is understandable that the migrainer may have mood changes, other disturbances and that other organs in their body are affected as well. 

    Other associated symptoms that may or may not occur:

  • Mood changes 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Difficulty urinating 
  • Tearing eyes
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Nasal congestion
  • Facial flushing 24 to 72 hours before: anxiety, Depression, excessive hunger or thirst, surges of energy, irritability or obsessiveness. 
  • Food cravings 
  • Lack of appetite
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Yawning
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Sleepiness
  • Coldness
  • Depression
  • Migraine > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

    Ask The Doctor

    Related Site:

  • Migraine
  • Back pain
  • Tension-type headache
  • Phantom pain
  • Cluster headache
  • Sciatica

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    This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.

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    Last Modified : 17/06/09 11:10 PM