Migraines can be a truly awful experience. It’s a type of headache that can get very severe and last longer than usual headaches. They can even last up to 72 hours. Symptoms may include flashes, feeling sick, increased sensitivity to light or sound, and more. There are also several different types of migraines. The risk factors include age, sex, lifestyle, family history, other medical conditions, and more. Some of the common triggers are stress, food, tobacco, hormone changes, bad dietary habits, bad sleep, alcohol, and more. There are no cures for migraines as of yet, but they are not inevitable. There are preventive medications that you can use in order to combat them early on and possibly avoiding them altogether.
Want to learn more? Keep reading the article by Christian Cordt-Moller.
It is much more than a strong headache and it affects one in five women and one in ten men. You can often feel it coming on: you yawn, you get a “hangover” or a “ravenous hunger”. Noises, certain smells or light become unbearable. Your vision may become blurred, brightly colored shapes may appear… The dreaded headache sets in, leading to nausea and vomiting. Even if your grandmother and mother suffer from it, you should not be fatalistic. New medicines are effective in treating migraines!
Changes in the weather, lack of sleep, stress, or the aftermath of a drunken night out can cause the head to feel as if it is caught in a vice. The pain is dull, regular, and diffuse. This is called a headache.
… to migraines
The explanations for the manifestations of migraines are not yet clearly established. Triggering factors are thought to stimulate certain areas of the brain and cause a local decrease in cerebral blood flow. In a second phase, the inflamed vessels dilate, thus triggering the pulsating pain. These disturbances are frequently accompanied by hypersensitivity to light or noise, as well as nausea or vomiting. The common migraine may be preceded by symptoms -prodromes that herald the onset of a crisis- such as a change in mood, “ravenous hunger” or yawning. Then follows the dreadful pain that beats to the rhythm of the heart. The migraine sufferer just wants to be quiet in the dark. Especially as this attack can lead to great fatigue and last for 24 hours. Less frequent (10% of attacks), migraine with aura is characterized by a series of symptoms or sensations that develop progressively. These symptoms may include seeing a star-shaped patch of light that extends into the visual field (scintillating scotoma), tingling in a part of the body or face, or speech disturbances. The migraine attack, commonly called a migraine, follows the aura.
Migraines can be treated effectively
There is still no medicine that can cure migraine sufferers. However, with the new medicines, it is possible to treat migraines effectively and to reduce the frequency of attacks. More than half of migraine sufferers do not consult a doctor and treat themselves. This is particularly unfortunate because they are not informed about the latest developments in the field and can only use over-the-counter medication, which may not have sufficient effect.
It is recommended that action be taken as soon as the warning signs of the attack appear and not wait for the headaches to develop. However, not every attack needs to be treated with medication. Bed rest, away from stimulation, can be effective.
General analgesics such as aspirin, paracetamol, or ibuprofen may be sufficient if taken early enough. To ensure a rapid onset of action, a soluble form should be preferred (effervescent tablet or soluble powder in sachet). The combination of an analgesic with a prokinetic may be useful. The latter improve the function of the stomach and make the pain medication effective again. On the other hand, single drugs are to be referred to as a “cocktail” of substances. Triptans” work by causing vasoconstriction of the vessels in the skull. They are effective but require certain precautions in their use. For example, they are contraindicated in cases of heart disease.
It is recommended to take these medications if the attacks are frequent (3 to 4 times a month), if they last a long time or if you suffer for more than 3 to 4 days a month. They should be taken for several months or even years. This background treatment must be prescribed and monitored by a doctor. A product is considered effective if it reduces the frequency of attacks by half. For a migraine sufferer, this is already a lot! Migraines that do not respond to treatment are due to the use of drugs whose effectiveness is uncertain, to their being used for too short a time, or simply to the use of doses that are too low.
Which foods should be avoided?
Every migraine sufferer has their own intolerances. The foods most often involved are wine, cold meats, fermented cheeses, chocolate, and canned fish. Of course, there are others.
Beware of drugs
By abusing certain drugs, migraine sufferers will decompensate their migraine illness and thus increase the frequency of attacks. They will then take their analgesics or migraine medications in an increasing and inappropriate manner, thereby maintaining their headaches.
Keeping a diary can help you to better understand and thus prevent your migraine attacks. You can note the frequency and duration of attacks, possible triggers – food, weather changes – the location of the pain, its nature -pulsating, dull, regular-, the symptoms accompanying or preceding the pain, the medication, and the measures taken and the results obtained. All this information is also useful to know the evolution of your migraines and can be of great help to your doctor in order to better analyze your disorders. This type of diary can be obtained from your pharmacist or from your usual doctor.
And your doctor
The doctor can diagnose a migraine on the first visit, just by asking you or by looking at your diary. No special examination is necessary, and often the examinations carried out are normal, but this does not mean that you are not in pain! If the treatment prescribed by your GP does not work, he or she can advise you to see a neurologist or refer you to a migraine consultation center.
Other possible approaches
Acupressure or the use of heat or cold may be sufficient. Some migraine sufferers find help through acupuncture, homeopathy, or phytotherapy. Naturally, triggers must be avoided and the daily routine must be rethought in order to be more in tune with the body.
What to do now?
Continue to live, eat and sleep. Make sure you relax regularly, exercise naturally, and don’t abuse the television and computer. Keep a diary of your migraines and the medicines you take. A new medical consultation is necessary if the headaches become more frequent or more intense.