Migraine – more than just a headache!
“Migraine is an inherited tendency to have headaches with sensory disturbance. It is instability, in the way the brain deals with incoming sensory information and that instability can become influenced by physiological changes like sleep, exercise or hunger.” – Professor Peter Goadsby, Professor of Neurology, King’s College London.
Migraine is an extraordinarily prevalent neurological disease, affecting about 1 billion people worldwide.
Migraine is more than just a headache. Most people perceive it as a painful headache. Actually it is a very complex condition with a wide range of symptoms. Beside the painful headache, symptoms comprise, disturbed vision, sensitivity to light, sound and smells or even nausea and vomiting in very serious cases. Those symptoms vary from person to person and the attacks differ in length and frequency. A migraine usually last for 4 to 72 hours and the time between attacks is symptom free. Migraines have an important impact on work, family and social lives.
Migraines are categorized into different categories. There are two main categories:
- Migraine without aura
- Migraine with aura
Migraine without aura is experienced by 70-90% of people who experience this condition. The headache is in most cases one-sided, which affects your daily life and worsens even with little exercise. Common with this type, is feeling sick, vomiting or having diarrhea.
People suffering from migraine with aura experience the same symptoms as without aura and additional neurological symptoms, like visual disturbances. For example, blind spots in the field of sight, sparkles or stars, tunnel vision. Moreover, numbness or tingling, weakness and dizziness, fear and memory changes are also common with this type of migraine.
But one thing is not clear for most people, what is the difference between a conventional headache and a migraine. Headaches are unpleasant pains in your head that cause pressure and aching. The aching ranges from mild to severe and is felt mostly on both sides of the head. The most common headache is tension headache, triggered by stress muscle strain or anxiety. Contrary to headache a migraine is accompanied by other symptoms beside the headache, which have already been mentioned above.
There are different treatment approaches for migraines. The best treatment is possibly prevention. To prevent migraines it is recommended to exclude alcohol and caffeine from your diet. If you are likely to experience migraines be careful with exercise, make sure you get enough sleep and learn how to cope with stress.
If you are suffering from a migraine, a first aid approach is to have recourse to home remedies like an ice pack to get rid of tensions or cayenne pepper, chamomile or peppermint. If the pain persists, another treatment should be considered. With the wide range of migraine types there are also a lot of different treatments. You can undergo a medication treatment either you try over-the-counter medications or you go see a doctor to get prescription medicine. For some people acupuncture and natural alternatives work too.
All in all, migraine is a very complex condition, with many facets. It takes time distinguish between a headache and a migraine and to diagnose the right type of migraine and to find an appropriate treatment. As the causes may not be entirely originating from inside the body but as well as external factors like stress and anxiety trigger migraines. Therefore it is very important to adopt a healthy and balanced lifestyle to minimize the risk of getting migraines.