Migraines

Migraines

A migraine causes attacks of headaches. Besides this, other symptoms include nausea and vomiting. It is more common in women. Painkillers are available which cause relief from the condition. However, you should also avoid possible triggers which cause a migraine headache.


  • Abnormal brain activity temporarily affecting blood vessels in the brain
  • Treatment available to help ease symptoms


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Description

A migraine is a severe headache that can cause an intense throbbing sensation to occur. This can be debilitating to those affected. The pain that arises from a migraine can last anywhere from a few hours up to a few days. It can be very hard to do anything even remotely productive while trying to endure the pain. Migraines can first arise during childhood, or may not be experienced until early adulthood. Family history tends to be the most common risk factor for this condition, as well as being a woman.


There are stages of a migraine which can be picked up upon, usually from experience, once it has previously occurred. The symptoms of a migraine attack typically begin one or two days before a headache itself sprouts and this is known as the prodrome stage. During this stage, the symptoms are mild and can include:


  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Food cravings
  • Neck stiffness
  • Frequently yawning


In a migraine with aura, a person may experience issues with their visions, movement, and speech. The aura occurs directly after the prodrome stage. If you are experiencing this stage, you can expect symptoms such as:


  • Difficulty in speaking
  • Temporary loss of vision
  • Hearing strange noises or music
  • Visual phenomena (seeing shapes, bright spots, or light flashes)
  • Pins and needles sensation felt in either the arm or leg


Subsequent to the aura phase is the attack phase. This is by far the most severe phase and is when a person experiences the pain of an actual migraine. It can last anywhere from a few to hours to several days. When going through this, a person tends to experience symptoms like:


  • Nausea often followed by vomiting
  • Light-headedness or feeling faint
  • Sudden pain on either the left side, right side, front, or back of your head
  • Pulsing and throbbing pain in your head
  • High sensitivity to light, sounds, and even smells and touch


Following the attack phase, symptoms should become far milder as you cross over into the postdrome phase. While enduring this phase, you should be able to identify significant changes in your mood. It can become heightened in either a positive or negative way. The only the symptom you may potentially experience during this phase is a light headache. However, no matter how severe, it should still be a downgrade from the pain felt during the previous phase.


To learn more about migraines, see the comprehensive patient information leaflet

Causes

The exact cause of migraines remains unknown and there is still a lot of confusion regarding this condition. However, it is believed that genetics, environmental factors, and changes in the brain play a big part. It is believed that when the blood vessels in the brain become narrow, they lead to the aura phase. When these vessels open wide soon afterwards, they lead to a migraine headache.


According to a second theory, industry experts are fairly confident in the belief that migraines are caused by sudden abnormal activity, some chemicals in the brain, and nerve signals. These send some confusing signals to the brain which cause the symptoms. People who suffer from migraines tend to have certain trigger factors which bring about the condition. Common triggers include exposure to bright lights, fatigue, or stress.


Additional triggers can be:


  • Dehydration
  • Drinking caffeine
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Headaches brought on by tension
  • Changes in your regular sleep pattern
  • Skipping meals or fasting which results in low blood sugar count
  • Hormonal triggers such as menstrual periods, menopause, etc.
  • Sudden change in weather conditions like strong winds & altitude changes
  • Physical triggers including exercise, tiredness, jet lag, etc.
  • Smoking or being exposed to cigarette smoke
  • Physical/emotional stress such as anxiety, depression, excitement, etc.
  • Sensitivity to certain chemicals/preservatives commonly found in food. Anything containing tyramine, monosodium glutamate (MSG), or nitrates has the potential to cause migraines.


Changes in hormones can cause a migraine in women. It is thought that when the oestrogen levels fall from one level to another just before the menstrual cycle, the symptoms are more prominent. Oestrogen is one of the chemical hormones that control the menstrual cycle.

Types Of Treatment

There is no existing cure for migraines and treatment is primarily aimed at the prevention of experiencing full-blown migraine symptoms. There are several general lifestyle factors which can be altered in order to decrease the frequency of getting affected by migraines.


Some of these factors include:


  • Reducing stress levels
  • Avoiding specific trigger foods
  • Making sure you remain hydrated
  • Ensuring you get a sufficient amount of sleep each night


If you have tried to alter these factors and have noticed no discernible improvement, you may want to medicate yourself with prescription medication. You can opt to choose either an abortive or a preventive form of treatment. The overall goal of any abortive therapy type medication is to stop a migraine once it has started. Such treatments, of which we stock, include:


  • Naratriptan (capsule)
  • Frovatriptan (capsule)
  • Maxalt Melt (capsule)
  • Zomig spray (spray)
  • Zomig rapimelt (capsule)


All the medications we stock for this condition are triptans (5HT1 agonists) which treat migraines by widening blood vessels that are believed to cause the headaches. We do not stock preventive treatments, nor any other forms of abortive treatments such as analgesics and ergot alkaloids. Your treatment strategy will depend entirely on the frequency and severity of your condition.



If you are looking for some expert help, book an ONLINE consultation with our GMC Registered Clinicians at alldayDr.com.


Patient discretion and confidentiality top the priority list at alldayDr.com!

Questions & Answers

How do I know if I suffer from migraines?

If you have developed/are developing a headache, and two or more of the symptoms from the prodrome symptoms list match your current state, it is likely that you could be experiencing a migraine.


My mum/dad has suffered from migraines all her/his life. Does this mean I will be affected?

Experts believe that there is definitely a genetic predisposition to migraines and of the families that suffer from this condition, the children will be susceptible.


What are abortive medications?

Abortive medications aim to halt the pain of a headache once it has begun. By doing so, other symptoms (such as nausea, light sensitivity, etc.) will also hopefully be avoided. Speak to us if you’d like to find out what abortive medications are available to you.


Which painkillers have the potential to prompt rebound headaches?

When painkillers are taken every so often, in small amounts, they can be very effective. However, if consumed in a large enough quantity they have the potential to cause rebound headaches. This is in fact so common that generic painkillers are literally the most likely culprits for causing rebound headaches.



If you are looking for some expert help, book an ONLINE consultation with our GMC Registered Clinicians at alldayDr.com.


Patient discretion and confidentiality top the priority list at alldayDr.com!

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