MIGRAINE HEADACHES

A migraine is a very painful kind of headache. Like many medical conditions, they are not the same for everyone. Your symptoms will be unique to you. You may have only a few of the migraine symptoms, or you can experience them all. You will probably feel a throbbing on the side of your head. You can have blurred vision or even a blind spot in one eye before the headache begins. Loud noises and bright lights can make the pain worse. Often, you can feel nausea and even experience vomiting.

Migraines are the result of changes in the chemicals in your blood and the blood’s flow in the brain. There may even be a migraine pain generator in certain people with inherited abnormalities.

A migraine headache usually has two stages. First, your brain nerve cells react to a migraine trigger by sending out impulses to the blood vessels. The blood vessels narrow or constrict. As they narrow, the amount of blood circulating in your brain drops. Your body may react with difficulty speaking or visual disturbances. You may also experience a tingling or numbness and/or weakness in one area of your body.

The second stage of a migraine involves the blood vessels dilating. As they return to normal or even enlarge, your blood returns to your brain in a rush. While this is happening, other parts of your body release a mixture of inflammatory chemicals. The returning blood carries this mixture with it which results in a severe pulsing headache.

Some sources estimate 20% of Americans experience migraine headaches. Roughly, three times more women than men suffer from this type of headache. 80% of migraine sufferers have a family history of the headaches. The chances of you getting migraines are 50% if one of your parents has experienced them. The likelihood of you developing them jumps to 75% if both parents are migraine sufferers. These figures are very similar to the genetic result in allergies.

There are two types of migraine headaches. One type is called Classic migraine or migraine with aura. An aura is a visual or other sensory disturbance. The other type is called Common migraine or migraine without aura.

The aura is a visual or other sensory disturbance. It usually occurs about 30 minutes before the pain begins. Sparkling, dancing lights, a pusling vibrating light, wiggly lines, shimmering, like heat off a hot road, and jagged flashes flickering light of light, are phrases often used to describe this occurrence. Colors most often reported are red, gold or yellow, green, and blue or purple.

Other senses can also produce auras. You might have a ringing in the ears (tinnitus). You might smell a strange odor or experience an odd taste in your mouth. Perhaps, you just have a funny feeling and can’t quite put into words what it feels like.

There may be other warning signs of an oncoming migraine headache besides an aura. You may feel depressed, sleepy, feel excessive thirst, or crave sweet snacks. If you keep a headache diary, documenting the events before your headaches over a period of time, you can learn to recognize these warning signs and plan accordingly for the oncoming migraine.

Migraine headaches have many known triggers. Your migraine could follow a late night with less sleep than you are accustomed to getting. They can also result from the opposite side of the coin—too much sleep. Hunger or stress can also trigger your migraine headache. In women, their period can bring on a migraine. Some foods or smells, flickering and/or bright lights and side effects of some medicines are also known to trigger migraines.

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