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Migraine - Diagnosis, Symptoms, and Treatment


What is a Migraine?

A migraine is an intense throbbing and pulsing in a partial area of a person’s brain. There would usually be an experience of vomiting, and intense sensitivity when it comes to light, sound, and other senses. A migraine commonly can last for hours or even days if untreated wherein a person might just choose to lie down in an isolated place.

Studies have shown that today about 45 million Americans suffer migraine every year. An average of 20 million females and an average of 25 million males experience this. These figures are about 6.54% of the entire population of America; approximately 1 out of 6 people.

Symptoms of Migraine

A person may experience migraine through a progression of four different stages; however, not all stages will be experienced by every person. These four stages are:

  • Pro-drome
  • Aura
  • Attack
  • Post-drome

In the first stage of a migraine headache, a person will be able to experience some changes that may warn of the upcoming migraine. These could last for one to two days:

  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Cravings for certain foods
  • Hyperactivity
  • Irritability
  • Stiffness of the neck

The next stage, which is the aura, is not commonly experienced by most people. Auras are generally visual disturbances, but can also affect the sensory, motor, and verbal aspects of a person. The progression of aura usually lasts between 10 to 30 minutes. Examples of it are:

  • Loss of vision
  • Problems with speech and language
  • Needle sensations in the arm or leg
  • Visual phenomena

The third stage of the migraine process is the attack which commonly lasts from 4 to 72 hours. This attack will only come occur if the past two stages weren’t treated accordingly. In this stage a person may experience:

  • Pain on a part of your head
  • Severe throbbing
  • Sensitivity of the senses
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Diarrhea
  • Lightheadedness that may result to fainting

The fourth and last of the stages is post-drome. In this final stage, a person may feel totally drained or perhaps what others oddly refer to as ecstatic.

What causes a Migraine?

There are a number of factors that might cause or trigger a migraine. They include the following:

  • Hormonal changes among women
  • Certain foods
  • Surrounded and feeling too much stress
  • Disturbance of the senses
  • Various sleep-wake patterns
  • Intense physical activities or sexual activities
  • Sudden changes in the environment or weather
  • Certain medications

Diagnosis of Migraine

A doctor will want to review a patient’s family and medical history in order to determine if a person has diagnosable migraines. A series of physical examinations will also be necessary to strengthen the positivity of the diagnosis. These exams are usually:

  • Computerized tomography or CT
  • Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI
  • Spinal tap or lumbar puncture

Treatment of Migraine

Medications have been made specifically available for the treatment of migraine. These medications have been divided into two broad categories:

  • Pain-relieving medications
  • Preventive medications

Pain-relieving medications are advisable for those who just experienced the symptoms of a migraine. These medications are:

  • Pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Triptans relieve the pain, nausea, and sensitivity of senses that are connected to migraines.
  • Ergot is a cheaper, but less effective version of triptans.
  • Anti-nausea medications.
  • Opiates
  • Dexamethasone

Preventive medications are a way of reducing the strength, length, and frequency of the migraine. These can only be taken if a doctor recommends so as it can cause serious side effects. These preventive medications are as follows:

  • Cardiovascular drugs
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-seizure drugs
  • Cyproheptadine
  • Botulinum toxin type A or Botox

Some of the medications for migraine aren’t advisable for pregnant or breast-feeding mothers, and even for children. A consultation with a doctor would be very important for this.

Alternative Treatment of Migraine

There are some therapies that can help treat migraines; however, there has been no clinically significant evidence of their efficacy:

  • Acupuncture
  • Biofeedback
  • Massage and chiropractic treatments
  • Intake of vitamins and minerals, as well as herbs

Prevention of Migraine

These are suggestions that may help a person to prevent migraine through lifestyle changes:

  • Avoid triggers by avoiding food or scents that might have caused migraine before. Have an established sleeping pattern, regular eating, and control of stress.
  • Exercise daily
  • Lessen the effects of estrogen by avoiding medications that contain a lot of it.