Do you or know someone who suffers from migraines? The neurological condition can come with multiple symptoms depending on the type of migraine. Depending on the type of migraine one is experiencing, the symptoms can include nausea, pain behind one eye or ear, pain in the temples, seeing spots or flashing lights, sensitivity to light and/or sound, temporary vision loss and vomiting. Migraines can often be hereditary and affect people of all ages.
People describe migraine pain as pulsating, throbbing, pounding, and debilitating. Pain may start out as mild, but if not treated, can become moderate to severe. Typically, the pain begins in the forehead area, but can shift to one side of the head or both. They usually last about four hours, but if not treated can last for three days to a week or more. More than half of people who get migraines experience nausea and most of those also vomit which can prevent medications from being effective.
Chronic migraines are exactly what they sound like. These severe tension or migraine headaches can last more than 15 days a month for three or more months. People with chronic migraine are more likely to have depression, high blood pressure, severe headaches, other types of chronic pain (arthritis), and previous head or neck injuries.
Acute migraine is a general term for migraines that are not diagnosed as chronic though they may last up to 14 days per month.
Vestibular migraine is also known as migraine-associated vertigo. Symptoms affect balance and can cause dizziness. About 40% of people who suffer from migraine have these symptoms. Sometimes this type of migraine is triggered by certain foods. These migraines are more debilitating, so talk to your doctor about preventative medications and changes to your diet, and to learn exercises to help stay balanced when you do experience symptoms.
Optical migraine is defined by the International Headache society as the attacks of fully reversible and temporary vision problems in only one eye. Symptoms may include flashes of light,and blind spot or partial loss of vision. Typically, these vision problems occur within an hour of the headache and sometimes they are painless.
Complex migraine is a term used to describe migraines with auras that have symptoms similar to that of a stroke including weakness, trouble speaking and loss of vision.
As the name suggests, menstrual migraines can occur before, during or after menstruation and during ovulation and affect up to 60% of women who experience any type of migraine. Menstrual migraines tend to be more intense, last longer, and have more nausea than other types of migraines.
Hormonal migraines are a type of menstrual migraine and are commonly associated with a woman’s period, ovulation, pregnancy, or changes in birth control or hormone therapy.
Acephalgic migraine is a migraine that occurs when a person has an aura, but no headache. Visual auras are common and may be followed by numbness, speech problems, weakness and inability to move the parts of the body as normal.
Prevention and Treatment
Prevention is also key to migraine relief. So pay attention to what is triggering the migraine and follow these tips:
- Stay hydrated
- Avoid skipping meals
- Get quality sleep
- Quit smoking
- Reduce stress and learn to cope with what causes stress
Other remedies can also include:
- Lying down in a dark room
- Massage scalp or temple
- Place a cold cloth over your forehead
- Putting your feet in hot water and a cold cloth behind your neck
Though there is no cure, your doctor can help treat your symptoms to help make the migraines less severe. Treatments vary and depend on the age of the patient, frequency, type and severity of the migraine. Treatment could include:
- Preventative measures and treatments as shown above
- OTC pain or migraine medications like Tylenol
- Prescription migraine medications either for prevention or when symptoms first appear.
- Hormone therapy
If your headaches are affecting your daily life, make an appointment to see your doctor or talk to your pharmacist to see if any medications you are currently taking are contributing factors in your migraine symptoms.