Migraine symptoms which are known as aura may occur before or with a migraine headache. These migraine symptoms can include flashes of light, tingling sensation felt on one side of the face or in your arm or leg and blind spots.
Migraine medications can help prevent some migraines making them less painful.
Migraine causes severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, which is usually on just one side of the head. It is often times accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and an extreme light and sound sensitivity.
Migraine attacks are capable of causing significant pain for hours to days and the pain can be so severe, almost disabling.
It is important you talk to your doctor about different options of treatment for migraine if you can’t find relief.
Read further to know some of the best migraine treatment, some lifestyle changes to make that may bring some migraine relief.
Migraine causes are not quite understood, but genetics and environmental factors have been known to play a role.
Migraines may be caused by a change in the brainstem, its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, which is a major pain pathway.
Imbalances in the brain chemicals, including serotonin which helps in regulating pain in your nervous system may also be involved.
Serotonin level is lowered during a migraine attack. This may cause a release of substances called neuropeptides from your trigeminal nerve, which travels to your brain’s meninges. The result of this action is migraine pain.
Other neurotransmitters which play a role in migraine pain include; calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).
Studies are still in progress about the role of serotonin in migraines.
Migraine symptoms can begin in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood. Migraines may be progressed through four stages: prodrome, aura, headache, and post-drome. Not everyone experiences all these stages.
It occurs one or two days before a migraine attack, you may notice subtle changes or migraine symptoms that warn of an upcoming migraine attack, including:
- Food cravings
- Stiffness of the neck
- Increase in thirst and urination
- Mood changes, which can be from depression to euphoria
- Frequent yawning
Aura stage may occur before or during migraine attacks. Most people experience migraines without the aura stage.
Aura stages are symptoms of the nervous system. The migraine symptoms are usually visual disturbances, such as flashes of light or wavy, zigzag vision.
Sometimes, auras can be touching sensations (sensory), movement (motor) or speech (verbal) disturbances. Your muscles may become weak, or you may experience feelings as though someone is touching you.
Each of these migraine symptoms usually begins gradually, building up over several minutes and can last for 20 to 60 minutes. Some examples of migraine aura include:
- Visual phenomena, such as seeing various shapes, flashes of light or bright spots
- Loss of Vision
- Difficulty in speaking
- Pins and needles sensations felt in an arm or leg
- Weakness or numbness felt in the face or on one side of the body
- Hearing music or noises
- Uncontrollable jerking or other movements
Sometimes, a migraine attack with aura may be associated with limb weakness (a hemiplegic migraine).
A migraine attack usually lasts from 4 to 72 hours if left untreated. The frequency with which migraine headaches occur varies from person to person. Migraines may sometimes be rare, or can strike several times a month. During a migraine attack, you may experience the following:
- Pain which may be felt on one side or both sides of your head
- Pain that feels throbbing or pulsing
- An extreme sensitivity to light, sounds, and sometimes smells and touch
- Blurred vision
- Light-headedness, which can sometimes be followed by fainting
Post-drome is the final phase, which occurs after a migraine attack.
You may feel washed out and drained, while it leaves some people feeling elated. For about 24 hours, you may also experience the following:
- Sensitivity to light and sound
Migraines are often undiagnosed and left untreated. If you experience the signs and symptoms of migraine attacks, it is important that you keep a record of these migraine attacks and how you treat them. You can then make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your headaches.
See your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if you have any of the following migraine symptoms, which may indicate a more serious underlying medical problem:
- An abrupt and severe headache that is felt like a thunderclap
- Migraine headaches with fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness or trouble speaking
- Headache after a head injury, especially if the headache becomes worse
- A chronic headache that becomes worse after coughing, exertion, straining or a sudden movement
- Any new headache pain if you’re older than 50
A number of factors may cause or trigger migraines, including the following:
- Hormonal changes in women.Fluctuations in estrogen in women can trigger headaches in lots women. Women who have a history of migraines often complain of headaches immediately before or during their periods, which is when they have a major drop in estrogen.
Others women also have an increased tendency to develop migraines during pregnancy or menopause.
- Food additives.The sweetener aspartame and the preservative monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is found in some foods, may trigger migraine attacks.
- Foods such as aged cheeses, processed foods, and salty foods may also trigger migraines. Skipping your meals or fasting also can trigger migraine attacks
- Alcohol, especially wine, and beverages that are highly caffeinated may trigger migraines attacks.
- Stress at home or work can also trigger migraine attacks.
- Physical factors. Some intense physical activities including sexual activities may also trigger migraine attacks.
- Sensory stimuli.Bright lights, loud sounds, strong smells even sun glare can induce migraine attacks in some people.
- A change in the wake-sleep pattern.Missing sleep or sleeping too much may trigger migraines in some people, just as jet lag.
- A change in the environment.A change of weather or barometric pressure can also trigger a migraine attack.
- Medications such as oral contraceptives and vasodilators, such as nitroglycerin, can trigger or aggravate migraine attacks.
MIGRAINE RISK FACTORS
Some of the factors make you more prone to having migraines, include the following:
- Age: Migraines attacks can begin at any age, but occurs more during adolescence. Migraines can also increase or you may experience a peak during your 30’s with a migraine gradually becoming less frequent and less severe as you age.
- Family history.If you have any family member with migraines, then you have a good chance of developing them too.
- Women are more likely to have migraines than men.
- Hormonal changes.Migraine headaches may begin in a woman just before or shortly after the onset of menstruation.
Some of the complications of a migraine include problems, such as:
- Abdominal problems.
- Serotonin syndrome
- Medication–overuse headaches
Triptans include medications such as sumatriptan (Imitrex) or zolmitriptan (Zomig). Some common SSRIs include sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Sarafem, Prozac) and paroxetine (Paxil). SNRIs include duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor XR).
- Chronic migraine
- Persistent aura without infarction.
- Status migrainosus
- Migrainous infarction
Migraine treatments can help stop migraine symptoms and prevent future migraine attacks.
The treatment strategy to use depends on the frequency and severity of your headaches, the degree of disability caused by these headaches and your other medical conditions.
Medications used for migraine cures fall into two main categories:
- Pain-relieving medications.These are also known as an acute or abortive treatment. These types of drugs are taken during a migraine attack and are designed to stop migraine symptoms.
- Preventive medications.These categories of drugs are taken regularly, often daily, which helps to reduce the severity or frequency of migraine attacks.
It is important you meet your doctor to prescribe the proper drug to take since some medications aren’t recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Some medications aren’t given to children, and your doctor can help you find the right medication.
You should take pain-relieving medications as soon as you experience signs or symptoms of a migraine attack for the best results. The medications include:
- Pain relievers.Such as Aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) which helps relieve mild migraines. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), also may help relieve mild migraines in some people.
Other drugs for migraines, such as the combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine (Excedrin Migraine), also may relief moderate migraine pain.
Prescription pain reliever indomethacin may also help to relief a migraine, and is available in a suppository form. It is also helpful if you feel nauseated.
These medications if taken too often or for long periods of time, can lead to ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, and medication-overuse headaches.
- Triptans can be used in treating migraines. These medications make your blood vessels constrict and block pain pathways in your brain.
Triptans also relieve pain and other migraine symptoms that are associated with a migraine effectively. These medications are available in pill, nasal spray and injection form.
Triptan medications include the following: sumatriptan (Imitrex), rizatriptan (Maxalt), almotriptan (Axert), naratriptan (Amerge), zolmitriptan (Zomig), frovatriptan (Frova) and eletriptan (Relpax).
Some of the side effects of triptans include nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, muscle weakness and reactions at the site of the injection.
Triptans aren’t recommended for people that are at risk of strokes and heart attacks.
- Ergotamine and caffeine combination drugs (Migergot, Cafergot) are not as effective as triptans.
Ergots are more effective in people whose pain lasts for more than 48 hours and are also most effective when taken soon after migraine symptoms start.
Ergotamine may worsen nausea and vomiting related to your migraines, and may also lead to medication-overuse headaches.
Dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45, Migranal) is a derivative of ergot and is more effective with fewer side effects than ergotamine. It is also less likely to lead to medication-overuse headaches. It can be gotten in a form of a nasal spray and in injection form.
- Anti-nausea medications.Medications for nausea are usually combined with other medications. Some of the medications that are frequently prescribed are; chlorpromazine, metoclopramide (Reglan) or prochlorperazine (Compro).
- Opioid medications.An opioid medication which contains narcotics, particularly codeine, can be used I the treatment for migraine pain, especially for people who cannot take triptans or ergots. Narcotics are usually addictive and are usually used only if no other treatment for a migraine provides relief.
- Glucocorticoids (prednisone, dexamethasone).Glucocorticoid may be used with other migraine medications to provide relief from pain. Glucocorticoids should not be used all the time to avoid the side effects that are associated with their use.
You may be a candidate for preventive therapy for the following reasons:
- If you have four or more disabling migraine attacks in a month
- If the migraine attacks last more than 12 hours
- If pain-relieving medications for a migraine aren’t helping
- If the signs and symptoms of a migraine you experience include a prolonged aura or numbness and weakness
Preventive medications can also reduce the frequency, severity, and length of migraines attacks, increasing the effectiveness of symptom-relieving medicines used during migraine attacks. It may take some weeks to see improvements in your symptoms.
Preventive medications do not always stop headaches completely, and some drugs cause some serious side effects.
The most common medications used for migraine prevention include:
- Cardiovascular drugs.Beta blockers, which are commonly used to treat hypertension and coronary artery disease, may also be used reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. These drugs include: The beta blockers propranolol (Inderal LA, Innopran XL), metoprolol tartrate (Lopressor) and timolol (Betimol) have proved effective for preventing migraines.
Another class of cardiovascular medications (calcium channel blockers) which can also be used to treat high blood pressure/ hypertension can also prove to be helpful in preventing migraines and relieving migraine symptoms. There include:Verapamil (Calan, Verelan)
Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor lisinopril (Zestril) may also be useful in reducing the length and severity of migraines.
- The tricyclic antidepressants may prove to be effective in preventing migraines, even in people that do not suffer from depression. Amitriptyline is the only tricyclic antidepressant that has proven to effectively prevent migraines. Other tricyclic antidepressants are sometimes used since they fewer side effects than amitriptyline.
These antidepressant medications can cause sleepiness, dry mouth, constipation, weight gain and other side effects.
- Anti-seizure drugs.Anti-seizure drugs, such as valproate (Depacon) and topiramate (Topamax), seem to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.
- OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox).OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) has been proven to be helpful in treating chronic migraines in adults.
- Pain relievers.Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, especially naproxen (Naprosyn), helps to prevent migraines and reduce symptoms.
ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS AND MEDICINE
Some alternative treatments and medicine include:
- Massage therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Herbs, minerals, and vitamins