Migraine is a neurological condition and are a type of headache that causes throbbing and intense sensation in one area of the head. In some cases, the pain can occur on both sides and may affect your face or neck. It may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light.
TYPES OF MIGRAINE
- Migraine with an aura.
- Migraine without an aura.
Migraine without an aura is the most common type of migraine. They are called common migraines with no early symptoms (such as vision changes, dizziness, confusion, sickness and weakness) called aura which some people have before they have an attack of migraine. have migraine lasting between 4-72hours with headaches getting worse when you move or pain in only one side of head. You are also likely to be sensitive to light, sound and you experience nausea. It also means that headache is not caused by any other health condition.
Migraine with an aura or classic migraine where aura starts about an hour before the headache and they can affect any of your senses. It is associated with visual problems, sensory problems, speech or language and problems with weakness which may last up to 72hours.
The exact causes of migraines are unknown but they have been reported to be as a result of abnormal brain activity that affects the nerve signals, chemicals and blood vessels in the brain. Family history is also a risk factor for migraines. Women are more likely to be affected than men; with fluctuations of oestrogen and progesterones levels in women as reason especially in women entering their premenopause phase.
- Hormonal factors which occurs in women between 2days before start of period to 3days after period.
- Emotional factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, tension),
- physical factors such as tiredness, low blood sugar, poor sleep, neck or shoulder tension),
- Dietary factors such dehydration, alcohol, caffeine products, specific foods such as cheese, chocolate, artificial sweeteners, food preservatives, ice cream, citrus fruits.
- Environmental such as bright lights, change in climate, loud noises, strong smell, stuffy environment, smoking)
- Medications such as contraceptive pills, hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) for menopause symptoms treatment. Some other medications such as those used in managing ulcers and blood pressure are also associated with causing headaches.
There is no specific treatment for migraine, they can be unpredictable and diagnosis may often take a longer time. Referral may sometimes be necessary to neurology consultants for assessment and treatment of presenting symptoms using some other specific painkillers that work by narrowing blood vessels in brain responsible for migraine headaches.
- Keep a migraine diary to help with diagnosis. You may wish to include date, time, how long the attack lasted, symptoms experienced and medicines that you took.
- The use of over the counter (OTC) painkillers such as paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen can reduce symptoms but ensure that you check with your pharmacist for advice with other medications and other medical conditions. Soluble or effervescent tablets may be a better option as they are absorbed quicker. Aspirin not recommended in children under 16, ibuprofen not recommended in ulcers and asthma.
- See a doctor immediately when you have headache with fever, stiff neck, seizures, double vision, numbness and trouble with speech.
- See a doctor when you have a prolonged or chronic headache that is worse after coughing, straining or even on exertion.
- Lifestyle adjustments including managing stress and reduce or avoid triggers.
- Lying down in a quiet and dark room may be helpful.
- Using a cold cloth over your forehead and neck.
- Maintain a healthy sleep. This will help you manage migraine triggers linked to stress and anxiety. A good sleep will also promote good relaxation.
- Physical activity including aerobic exercises will help minimise symptoms of migraine headaches.
- Attempt to maintain good posture while sitting or standing as this can also minimise migraines and headaches.
Migraines have no specific treatment but managing the symptoms with drugs have been useful. However the emphasis should be working towards achieving a healthy lifestyle to minimise the discomfort and pains associated with migraines.
GEORGE ORISILE (PHARMAHEALTHTALK)
DISCLAIMER: PHARMAHEALTHTALK PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT SUBSTITUTE FOR YOUR HEALTH PLANS PUT IN PLACE BY YOUR DOCTORS. ALWAYS SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE ABOUT YOUR HEALTH CONDITIONS.