What is it?
A migraine is a headache that can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head.
Migraine attacks can last for hours to days.
Other symptoms of migraine headaches include fatigue, sensitivity to light, noise and odors, nausea and vomiting, upset stomach and abdominal pain.
Migraines are more common in females than males, due to the female hormone estrogen, but it is a condition affecting both genders and all age groups.
Based on the symptoms, migraines are divided into several types:
- Headache with intense, throbbing head pain;
- Unilateral headache, with pain localised only on one side of the head;
- Migraine with aura is a severe headache that happens along with things like dizziness, a ringing in your ears, zigzag lines in your vision, or sensitivity to light;
- Silent migraines occur when you have aura symptoms without a headache.
There are many symptoms associated with migraines:
- One-sided pain;
- Pulsing pain;
- General feeling of being unwell;
- Vomiting and nausea;
- Photophobia, or discomfort or pain in the eyes caused by exposure to light;
- Phonophobia or persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of sound;
- Osmophobia or abnormal sensitivity to smell;
- Urge to urinate frequently;
- Chills and pale skin;
- Abdominal pain;
- Altered bowel habits, or alternation of constipation and diarrhea;
- Chronic fatigue;
- Mood swings;
- Visual disturbances;
- Difficulty speaking;
- Loss of consciousness, in chronic cases;
- Difficulty speaking;
- Loss of balance and coordination.
There can be different underlying causes of migraines:
- Familiarity and genetic predisposition;
- Premenstrual or menstrual cycle in women;
- Sedentary lifestyle;
- Birth control pill;
- Celiac disease;
- Food or lactose intolerances;
- High consumption of coffee;
- Excessive consumption of table salt.
Migraine attacks should not be underestimated. In the most severe cases, migraine can lead to:
- Facial paralysis;
- Double vision;
- Speech disorders;
- High fever.
A family physician can diagnose migraine by factoring in frequency of symptoms, the type of pain, additional symptoms, patient’s medical history, lifestyle, diet.
In any case, if migraine is associated with other disorders, the family doctor may propose additional tests:
- Brain CT scan;
- Brain MRI.
The main drugs used to treat migraines are:
- Pain relievers such as triptans, opiates, ergotamines, anti-nausea drugs, steroids.
However, these drugs can have long-term side effects such as ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding.
There are also natural remedies to treat migraines:
- Apply a bottle of hot water on your head;
- Drink water at room temperature;
- Drink chamomile that has anti-inflammatory properties;
- Massage the head with lavender or olive oil;
- Use apple cider vinegar that has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties;
- Drink herbal teas based on lemon balm, lavender, passion flower, valerian;
- Use Bach flowers, with soothing and relaxing actions.
A targeted and specific diet can improve migraine symptoms. Certainly there following foods shall be eliminated:
- Caffeinated drinks, coffee or cola;
- Alcoholic beverages, beer;
- Fatty cheeses;
- Milk and derivatives;
- Simple sugars;
- Sweetener aspartame and nitrite-containing sweeteners;
- Red meat.
The aforemoentioned foods contain the following molecules that may trigger migraine attacks:
- Tyramine with vasoconstrictive action;
- Phenylethylamine, which increases norepinephrine secretion and blood pressure;
- Histamine, which increases the secretion of norepinephrine and triggers pseudo-allergic conditions.