I was down and in bed for almost 24 hours yesterday. What is wrong with me? I just had a killer migraine attack. Sure thing! The ultra painful kind of headache that is three times more common in women than in men.
I started experiencing headaches during grade school years. If I can remember it right, it actually began the same time I started wearing eye glasses when I was nine or ten years old. My mother brought me to our family doctor and she told us I am having migraines. She gave me information about it for me to read. As young as I was then, I only understand a little about it. For me, it’s associated with my having a poor eyesight and that’s it. I read and keep in mind the remedies that I can do to help ease the pain. I started college and migraines get frequent. I thought I have to learn more about migraine.
What is Migraine?
A migraine headache is a throbbing or pulsating headache that is often one sided (unilateral) and associated with nausea; vomiting; sensitivity to light, sound, and smells; sleep disruption; and depression. Migraine attacks are often recurrent and tend to become less severe as the migraine sufferer ages.
Migraines are classified according to the symptoms they produce. The two most common types are migraine with aura and migraine without aura. Less common types include the following:
- Abdominal migraine
- Basilar artery migraine
- Headache-free migraine (auro without migraine)
- Ophthalmoplegic migraine/Ocular migraine
- Status migrainosus
Some women experience migraine headaches just prior to or during menstruation. These headaches, which are called menstrual migraines, may be related to hormonal changes and often do not occur or lessen during pregnancy. Other women develop migraines for the first time during pregnancy or after menopause.
Migraine with aura is characterized by a neurological phenomenon (aura) that is experienced 10 to 30 minutes before the headache. Most auras are visual and are described as bright shimmering lights around objects or at the edges of the field of vision (called scintillating scotomas) or zigzag lines, castles (teichopsia), wavy images or hallucinations. Others experience temporary vision loss. Nonvisual auras include
- motor weakness
- speech or language abnormalities
- dizziness, vertigo
- tingling or numbness (parasthesia) of the face, tongue or extremities
Migraine without aura is the most prevalent type and may occur on one or both sides (bilateral) of the head. Tiredness or mood changes may be experienced the day before the headache. Nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light (photophobia) often accompany migraine without aura.
Abdominal migraine is most common in children with a family history of migraine. Symptoms include abdominal pain without a gastrointestinal cause (may last up to 72 hours), nausea, vomiting, and flushing or paleness (pallor). Children who have abdominal migraine often develop typical migraine as they age.
Basilar artery migraine involves a disturbance of the basilar artery in the brainstem. Symptoms include severe headache, vertigo, double vision, slurred speech and poor muscle coordination. This type occurs primarily in young people.
Carotidynia, also called lower-half headache or facial migraine, produces deep, dull, aching, and sometimes piercing pain in the jaw or neck. There is usually tenderness and swelling over the carotid artery in the neck. Episodes can occur several times weekly and last a few minutes to hours. This type occurs more commonly in older people. Doppler ultrasound studies of the carotid arteries are normal.
Ophthalmoplegic migraine begins with a headache felt in the eye and is accompanied by vomiting. As the headache progresses, the eyelid droops (ptosis) and nerves responsible for eye movement become paralyzed. Ptosis may persist for days or weeks.
What can set off a migraine?
Things that can set off migraines include the following:
- Strong or unusual odors, bright lights or loud noises
- Changes in weather or altitude
- Feeling tired, stressed or depressed
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Certain foods (see the list below), especially those that contain tyramine, sodium nitrate or phenylalanine
- Missing meals or fasting
- Menstrual periods, birth control pills or hormonal changes (in women)
- Intense physical activity, including sexual activity
Foods that may trigger migraines:
- Aged, canned, cured or processed meat, including bologna, game, ham, herring, hot dogs, pepperoni and sausage
- Aged cheese
- Alcoholic beverages, especially red wine
- Beans, including pole, broad, lima, Italian, navy, pinto and garbanzo
- Brewer’s yeast, including fresh yeast coffee cake, donuts and sourdough bread
- Caffeine (in excess)
- Canned soup or bouillon cubes
- Chocolate, cocoa and carob
- Cultured dairy products, such as buttermilk and sour cream
- Meat tenderizer
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Nuts and peanut butter
- Onions, except small amounts for flavoring
- Passion fruit
- Pea pods
- Pickled, preserved or marinated foods, such as olives and pickles, and some snack foods
- Red plums
- Seasoned salt
- Soy sauce
For years I have learned to manage migraine in my own little way. As soon as I sense it coming and analgesic is always a help to avoid it. If it gets worse, a light snack and a pain reliever pill followed by a good sleep in a quiet, dark and cool room will do the trick.
Headaches in Children and Adolescents by DW Lewis, M.D. (American Family Physician February 15, 2002, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20020215/625.html
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