Migraine Headache: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

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Migraine Headache

A migraine is a headache that usually affects one side of the head and causes extreme throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation. It's commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and excessive light and sound sensitivity. Migraine attacks can last anywhere from hours to days, and the pain might be severe enough to prevent you from going about your usual activities. 

A warning sensation known as an aura arises before or with the headache for some people. Visual disturbances, such as flashes of light or blind patches, or other disturbances, such as tingling on one side of the face, arm, or leg, and difficulty speaking, can all be signs of an aura.  

Some migraines can be prevented and made less unpleasant with the use of medication. The correct medications, in combination with self-help treatments and lifestyle adjustments, may be beneficial. 


Migraines can go through four stages: prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome, and they can afflict toddlers and teenagers as well as adults. Not everyone who suffers from migraines progresses through all of the stages. 


You may detect small changes that indicate an impending migraine one or two days before it occurs, such as: 

  •  Constipation  
  • Changes in mood, ranging from sadness to exhilaration 
  • Hunger pangs 
  • stiffness in the neck 
  • Urination is becoming more frequent. 
  • Retention of fluid 
  • a lot of yawning  


Auras can appear before or during migraines for certain people. Auras are reversible nervous system symptoms. Visual disturbances are the most common, however, other types of disturbances might sometimes occur. Each symptom normally starts slowly and grows up over several minutes, lasting up to 60 minutes. 

The following are some examples of migraine auras:  

  • Seeing diverse shapes, bright spots or flashes of light are examples of visual phenomena.  
  • Loss of vision  
  • Feelings of pins and needles in an arm or leg  
  • Weakness or numbness on one side of the body or in the face 
  • Speaking in a difficult manner 


If left untreated, a migraine can persist anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. The frequency with which migraines strike varies from person to person. Migraines can hit once a month or numerous times a month.  

You may have the following symptoms during a migraine: 

  •  Pain on one side of your head is common, but it can also occur on both sides. 
  •  Throbbing or pulsing pain 
  •  Light, sound, and sometimes smell and touch sensitivity 
  •  Vomiting and nausea 


You may feel fatigued, bewildered, and washed out for up to a day after a migraine attack. Some people claim to be elated. A sudden head movement may reactivate the discomfort for a brief period of time. 

When should you see a doctor? 

Migraines are undetected and mistreated far too often. Keep track of your migraine attacks and how you dealt with them if you suffer them on a regular basis. Then schedule a consultation with your physician to address your headaches. Even if you've had headaches before, consult your doctor if the pattern changes or your headaches feel different. 

If you have any of the following signs and symptoms, which could signal a more serious medical concern, see your doctor right away or go to the emergency room: 

  • An intense, sudden headache, similar to a thunderclap 
  • Headache with fever, stiff neck, confusion, convulsions, double vision, numbness or weakness in any region of the body may indicate a stroke. 
  • After a head injury, you may experience headaches. 
  • Coughing, exertion, straining, or a sudden movement might aggravate a persistent headache. 
  • After the age of 50, you may experience new headache pain. 

Causes of Migraine Headache

Although the exact causes of migraines are unknown, heredity and environmental factors appear to play a role.  

  • It's possible that changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a significant pain channel, are to blame. Unbalances in brain chemicals, such as serotonin, which helps your nervous system manage pain, could also play a role. 
  • The role of serotonin in migraines is being investigated by scientists. Other neurotransmitters, such as calcitonin gene-related peptides, play a role in migraine discomfort (CGRP).
  • Women's hormonal fluctuations. Many women experience headaches when their oestrogen levels fluctuate, such as before or during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, or menopause.  
  • Oral contraceptives and other hormonal drugs can aggravate migraines. However, some women report that using these drugs reduces the frequency of their migraines.  
  • Drinks. Alcohol, particularly wine, and too much caffeine, such as coffee, are examples.  
  • Stress. Migraines can be brought on by stress at work or at home.  
  • Stimuli to the senses. Migraines can be triggered by bright or flashing lights, as well as loud noises. Perfume, paint thinner, secondhand smoke, and other strong odours can cause migraines in some people.  
  • Sleep patterns shift. Sleep deprivation or excessive sleep can cause migraines in certain people. 
  • Factors of nature Migraines can be triggered by strenuous physical activity, including sexual activity. 
  • The weather shifts. A migraine can be triggered by a change in weather or barometric pressure. 
  • Medications. Migraines can be made worse by oral contraceptives and vasodilators like nitroglycerin.  
  • Foods. Migraines may be triggered by aged cheeses, as well as salty and processed foods. Skipping meals could have the same effect. 
  • Additives to food. Many foods contain the artificial sweetener aspartame and the preservative monosodium glutamate (MSG).  

Factors that are at risk 

Migraines can be triggered by a number of reasons, including:

  • History of the family. If you have a family member who suffers from migraines, you are more likely to develop them yourself. 
  • Age. Migraines can start at any age, although they are most common throughout puberty. Migraines tend to peak in your 30s, then steadily lessen in severity and frequency over the next few decades.  
  • Sex. Migraines are three times as common in women than in men. 
  • Hormonal shifts Migraine headaches can start soon before or shortly after menstruation for women who suffer from them. During pregnancy or menopause, they may also change. Migraines usually get better after menopause. 

Take Away  

Taking pain relievers too frequently can result in severe medication-overuse headaches. Combinations of aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine appear to pose the most danger. If you take headache medicines such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) for more than 14 days a month, or triptans, sumatriptan (Imitrex, Tosymra), or rizatriptan (Maxalt, Maxalt-MLT) for more than nine days a month, you may experience overuse headaches. 

Medication-overuse When drugs stop working to relieve pain, they start causing headaches. The cycle is then repeated by taking more pain medication. 

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