Migraines: A Painful and Disabling Attack
Migraine is a common type of headache that is often associated with other symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, photophobia (i.e., sensitivity to light), phonophobia (i.e., sensitivity to sound), and numbness of the face.
The exact causes of this condition are not yet clear, but researchers believe a genetic component exists due to the familial pattern found in patients.
Migraines have dozens of triggers that vary from one patient to another. Your doctor will ask you various questions to identify these triggers since this will be an important approach to treatment.
Once you are given the diagnosis, your doctor will provide you the appropriate treatment based on the category of migraines you have (with or without aura).
In this article, we will cover the different causes of migraines, as well as the available treatment options.
The causes of migraines
Unfortunately, researchers have yet to pinpoint the exact causes of migraines. However, some studies found a solid connection between certain habits / activities and the triggering of migraines.
For instance, one study determines that a disequilibrium between different neurotransmitters can precipitate migraines.
The most commonly affected neurotransmitter is serotonin, which explains why patients with migraines respond to antidepressant treatment. far,
Other risk factors of migraines include:
- Bright lights
- Loud noises
- Extreme temperatures (e.g., heat, cold)
- Changes in pressure
- Hormonal fluctuation during different phases of the menstrual cycle (e.g., progesterone, estrogen)
- High-intensity physical activity
- Emotional stress
- Sleep disorders (e.g., insomnia)
- Taking certain medications (e.g., oral contraceptives)
- Alcohol use
From this list of factors, you can probably understand the difficulty of diagnosing migraines.
The treatment of migraines
Like other idiopathic diseases (i.e., medical conditions without clear cause), there is no definitive treatment for migraines.
With that said, some treatments offer comfort to patients and control the severity and frequency of migraine episodes.
Treatment of migraines include:
- Lifestyle modifications (e.g., managing stress, practicing mindfulness)
- Taking over-the-counter medications (e.g., Tylenol, ibuprofen)
- Anti-emetic (drugs that stop vomiting) and anti-nausea medications
- Psychotherapy (i.e., counseling)
Note that you should consult with your doctor before starting any new therapy for migraines. Additionally, trying out alternative solutions, such as herbs, should be supervised due to fear of interactions with the drugs.
Overall, your doctor will follow an approach of trial and error to determine the best drug that works for you.
Migraine is a chronic neurological condition that affects millions of people. It presents with headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, as well as digestive symptoms (e.g., nausea, vomiting).
We hope that this article managed to address the main aspects of migraines.