Migraine Headaches

What are migraine headaches? Where do they come from? How can you help prevent them? Migraine headaches cannot really just be simplified down to just one classification. There are many determining factors when classifying one. One type of migraine is a migraine without aura; this is probably the most common form of a migraine. These migraines can last anywhere between 4-72 hours non-stop, which can be pretty painful.

Typical characteristics of this are unilateral location, pulsating quality, moderate or severe intensity, aggravation by routine physical activity and association with nausea and/or photophobia(sensitivity to bright light) or phonophobia(sensitivity to sound or noise). These symptoms can very much interfere with daily life and routines. The next type of a migraine is a migraine with aura, this is the second most commonly seen form of a migraine, and people who suffer from these might also suffer from migraines without aura.

The symptoms of a migraine with aura usually follow the symptoms of a migraine without aura. To diagnose this type of migraine it must follow the following criteria 1. Aura consisting of at least one of the following, but no muscle weakness or paralysis: fully reversible visual symptoms (flickering lights, spots, lines, or loss of vision) fully reversible sensory symptoms (pins and needles/numbness) fully reversible dysphasia (speech disturbance) 2.

Aura has at least two of the following characteristics: visual symptoms affecting just one side of the field of vision and/or sensory symptoms affecting just one side of the body, at least one aura symptom develops gradually over more than 5 minutes and/or different aura symptoms occur one after another over more than 5 minutes, or each symptom lasts from 5-60 minutes. The signs and symptoms of a migraine vary among different people. Therefore, what is experienced before, during, and after a migraine cannot be exactly defined. There are about 4 phases 1.

The prodrome, which occurs hours or days before the headache, 2. The aura, which immediately precedes the headache, 3. The pain phase, also known as the headache phase, and 4. The postdrome. The pendrome phase: prodromal symptoms occur in 40-60% of all migraine sufferers. This phase may consist of altered mood, irritability, depression or euphoria, fatigue, yawning, excessive sleepiness, craving for certain foods (chocolate), stiff muscles (especially in the neck), constipation or diarrhea, increased urination, and other visceral symptoms.

These symptoms occur usually between hours and days before the headache. Next is the pain phase. The typical migraine is unilateral, throbbing, and moderate to severe and can be aggravated by physical activity. Though the pain may be bilateral at the onset or start on one side and become generalized. These can last anywhere from 4-72 hours in adults and from about 1-48 hours in children. The frequency of these migraines is extremely variable, from few in an entire life time to several times in a week. Te head pain also varies greatly in intensity.

Then postdrome phase: the patient may feel tired; have head pain, feel “hung-over”, gastrointestinal symptoms, mood changes, and weakness. Some people feel unusually refreshed or euphoric after an attack. Where as others fell depressed. For some patients a 5-6 hour nap may reduce the pain, but slight headaches may still occur when standing or sitting quickly. Normally these symptoms will vanish after rest. Migraines are underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed. The diagnosis of migraine without aura according to the International Headache Society, can be made according to the following criteria, the “5, 4, 3, 2, 1 criteria”.

5 or more attacks, 4 hours to 3 days in duration, 2 or more of-unilateral location, pulsating quality, moderate to severe pain, aggravation by or avoidance of routine physical activity, 1 or more accompanying symptoms (nausea and/or vomiting, photophobia, phonophobia). A migraine trigger is any factor that, on exposure or withdrawal, leads to the development of an acute migraine headache. Triggers fall into different categories such as behavioral, environmental, infectious, dietary, chemical, or hormonal.

Migraine attacks may be triggered by: allergic reactions, bright lights, loud noises, and certain odors or perfumes, physical or emotional stress, changes in sleep patterns, smoking or exposure to smoke, skipping meals, alcohol, menstrual cycle fluctuations, birth control pills, hormone fluctuations during the menopause transition, tension headaches, foods containing tyramine (red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken livers, figs, and some beans), MSG or nitrates like bacon hot dogs or salami, and other foods such as chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, avocado, banana, citrus, onions, dairy products, and fermented or picked foods.

Conventional treatment usually focuses on three areas: trigger avoidance, symptomatic control, and preventive drugs. Patients often find that the recommended migraine treatments are not 100% effective at preventing migraines, and sometimes may not be affective at all. Once all diagnostic information has been collected and reviewed, then the best course of action can be determined.

Whether that may be drugs or simple rest; the treatment varies greatly for each patient so as of right now there is no exact treatment for migraine headaches. Thorough research is being done, and many of the experiments that are being tested are on new drugs to better treat these symptoms. Throughout my family history many of my family members have bean diagnosed with migraine headaches so I have quite an idea of what these “patients” are going through, seeing as I am one of them.

These migraine headaches are extremely painful and can take you away from normal activities such as going outside because the bright light, watching TV because of the noise, or even just studying because of the nerves and other things inside your brain that can have an affect on the migraine. Many treatments have been prescribed to chronic migraine sufferers in my family, but everyone still has yet to find one that has worked efficiently. This is a problem that needs to be fixed. That is one of the main reasons that I plan to pursue my career in becoming a neurosurgeon.

The fact that I am a migraine sufferer has an enormous impact on my choice of career and I am determined to go through with it. Too many people suffer everyday from migraine headaches and most people who do not suffer from these do not know the actual pain that is associated with one. Works cited Wikipedia. com – http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Migraine Migraineheadaces. com- http://www. migraineheadache. com/wsym. html Emedicinehealth. com- http://www. emedicinehealth. com/migraine_headache/article_em. htm.

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