Migraine is a kind of severe headache which only affects the front part or one side of the head. It usually occurs when a blood vessel is enlarged due to the release of chemicals from nerve fibers surrounding such blood vessels. It can lead to a whole lot of other health conditions like diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, delayed food absorption by the small intestines, poor blood circulation and increased sensitivity to light and sound.
A lot of people all around the world suffer from migraines occasionally. For instance in America, it is estimated that about 12% of the entire population suffer from migraines from time to time. It is also more common amongst people aged between 15 and 55. Migraine can be very discomforting and painful and sometimes, patients with severe cases may find themselves in the emergency room.
What Causes Migraine?
Wondering what exactly happens in your head when you suffer from Migraine? Well, this is exactly what happens; Migraine is actually an ailment of the nervous system. It happens when there is a contraction of the blood vessels that are responsible for servicing the brain.
These blood vessels stay tightly constricted as they perform their very essential duty of supplying blood to the brain. However, due to some triggers and factors, the blood vessels may ‘burst open’ and cause blood to gush out and flow to the brain and causes a severe one-sided headache which is known as Migraine.
Types of Migraine
There are different types of migraine, some are very mild and barely noticeable, while other types are very strong and severe and may even cause temporary blindness or paralysis. Some common types of Migraine include:
1. Hemiplegic Symptoms: This type of migraine which affects very few people is one of the most severe forms of Migraine. Hemiplegic Migraines can cause temporary paralysis, severe body weakness, slurred speech and vision disturbances. Hemiplegic Migraine usually mimics a stroke. The two types of Hemiplegic Migraines include:
- Familial Hemiplegic Migraine: This is usually caused by a genetic disorder and is passed on from one family member to another.
- Sporadic Hemiplegic Migraine: This type of hemiplegic migraine has absolutely nothing to do with genetics but is just as terrible as the familial hemiplegic migraine. It also presents the same symptoms.
2. Ophthalmic Migraine: The Ophthalmic Migraine is sometimes called Retinal or Ocular migraine. It causes severe visual disturbances and blind spots, which usually lasts for between one minute and one hour before the migraine starts. Ophthalmic migraine may also cause temporary blindness.
3. Ophthalmoplegic Migraine: Ophthalmoplegic migraine is a rare type of migraine that only affects children and young adults. It is characterized by severe pain at the back of the eye and paralysis of the eye muscles causing double vision and droopy eyelids. Other symptoms of ophthalmoplegic migraine include vomiting and seizures.
4. Menstrual Migraine: Menstrual migraine occurs during a woman’s menstrual cycle and is usually caused by fluctuating hormones.
5. Basilar Migraine: Basilar Migraine is characterized by symptoms such as dizziness, ringing in the ear, vertigo, loss of balance or consciousness, slurred speech before the headache. It usually affects teenage girls and young women and is believed to be caused by hormonal changes.
6. Abdominal Migraine: This type of migraine is mostly experienced by children. It causes nausea and vomiting, as well as other problems like attention deficit and developmental delays. Abdominal migraine is believed to be passed on through genetic mutation.
7. Chronic Migraine: Chronic Migraine refers to severe, ongoing migraine, which may last for long periods like two or three weeks.
8. Status Migrainous: This type of migraine would usually send patients to the emergency room due to its severity. It causes prolonged vomiting which may lead to dehydration.
Symptoms of Migraine
Here are a few symptoms of migraine which would help you identify and differentiate migraine from other types of headaches:
- Visual Disturbances: Migraines may cause visual disturbances like temporary blindness, blind spots or flickering lights. This is usually referred to as aura.
- Fluctuations in Feelings: Migraines may cause fluctuations in feelings such as sudden excitement, depression, anxiety or irritability.
- Insomnia/Restlessness: Another symptom of insomnia is the inability to enjoy a deep and restful sleep.
- Watery Eyes: Sometimes, migraines mimic sinus headaches and may cause watery eyes or stuffy noses.
- Sudden Cravings: Migraine may also cause sudden food cravings.
- One–sided Headache: The most common symptoms of migraine is throbbing headache, which is usually felt on one side of the head.
- Neck Pain: Migraine may also be responsible for that neck stiffness or throbbing pain at the back of your neck.
Other symptoms include:
- Frequent urination
- Eye pain
- Numbness or tingling sensation on one side of the body.
- Nausea or vomiting
- Heightened sense of smell
- Speech difficulties
- Body weakness
- Double vision fatigue
How to Prevent Migraine
Migraine can be easily prevented using the following tips:
- Control Your Blood Sugar: Low blood sugar is fingered as one of the causes of migraines and can be caused by a poor diet. Therefore, maintaining a proper diet and avoiding refined carbohydrates might help to prevent migraines by keeping your blood sugar steady.
- Stay Away from Tyramine and Nitrites: Foods that contain tyramine or nitrites like chocolates, eggplant, sausage, banana, artificial additives, soy products and broad beans may also trigger release of norepinephrine which, a chemical which can cause migraine.
- Drink Lots of Fluids: Dehydration may also cause migraine therefore, you should ensure that you always stay hydrated by drinking lots of water during the day.
- Avoid Food Allergies::Some food allergies may also trigger migraines by causing contraction of blood vessels hence it is important to identify foods that you may be allergic to and stay away from them.
- Avoid Stress: Another common trigger of migraine is stress. Therefore to avoid migraine, you should try to avoid stressful activities and ensure that you get enough rest after undergoing such.
- Avoid Bright Lights and Noise: Sudden flashes of light or extreme loud noise, which are some of the known triggers of migraine should also be avoided.