The things you need to know about migraine

What is Migraine?

Migraine is a neurological disease, categorized as the most painful of all chronic illnesses.

Migraine can cause severe pain on one or both sides of the head with symptoms lasting anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. Nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light often accompany migraines and sound.

While not fatal, migraine handles an untold amount of personal suffering.

Types of Migraine

Normally, Migraine is divided into two types:

Classic migraine.

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Common migraine

Common migraines do not have this warning sign which can make both diagnosis and treatment more difficult.

Three categories by severity:

Migraine is also broken into three categories by severity: mild, moderate, and severe. The symptoms vary widely between individuals, but most people experience at least one symptom in common, which includes throbbing pain, nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, and sensitivity to sound and light.

Migraine can affect people of all ages, gender, and culture. It is estimated that 40 million Americans suffer from migraines.

Causes of Migraine

The exact cause of migraines remains unknown, but several factors have been identified to trigger migraine attacks including:

  • stress
  • lack of sleep
  • illness
  • too much or too little food or alcohol consumption
  • hormones
  • weather patterns,
  • visual triggers such as bright lights or patterns
  • smells

About 1/3 of all people living with migraine state they can predict when their next attack will happen based on weather changes.

Diagnosis process for Migraines

Migraine is diagnosed by evaluating the symptoms reported by patients after an attack. Doctors sometimes use headache diaries to help determine what treatments are working best for patients over time.

People living with migraine should also have a neurological exam to see if there are other signs of abnormalities.

Due to the wide variety of migraine symptoms and their severity, a diagnosis is made based on a grading scale that measures three major criteria:

  • frequency
  • duration
  • intensity

Migraines can be difficult to diagnose because they do not present consistently from person to person. Migraine symptoms can mimic other conditions, such as meningitis or a stroke.

The most common diagnostic test used is a CT scan, which is non-invasive and painless but involves radiation exposure. MRI scans may be done in some cases when doctors are particularly concerned about an underlying neurological issue.

Strategies to get Migraine relief

There are a variety of strategies that people with migraines can try to help relieve symptoms and avoid future attacks.

Some factors that can help reduce the risk of migraines include:

  • avoiding certain foods and drinks,
  • getting enough sleep,
  • exercising regularly
  • reducing stress levels

Stress management, regular exercise, and good sleeping habits all have a positive effect on the body and mind, which reduces migraine risk. Diet changes, such as cutting out caffeine or dairy products, can also provide relief for certain people.

In some cases, it may also help to reduce a person’s exposure to certain types of trigger chemicals such as scented household cleaners or even secondhand smoke.

Sometimes just changing the environment around a migraine sufferer can have a positive effect – trying different pillows or going for a walk outside can help divert attention from the migraine itself.

Keeping a headache diary is also helpful for tracking patterns and identifying possible triggers.

Using dark sunglasses and earplugs during an attack can also help block out sensory triggers.

Migraine Treatments

Migraine medications such as over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription medication can help reduce the intensity of migraine symptoms but cannot prevent future attacks from occurring. However, there are now several new treatments available for those living with chronic migraines:

  • CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide) is a peptide naturally found in the body that causes inflammation and pain. The monoclonal antibody drug, Aimovig®, works by blocking the receptor where CGRP attaches, which reduces chronic migraine frequency by 1/3.
  • Newer drugs such as Erenumab increase the effectiveness of currently prescribed medication while also adding another option for patients who do not respond to medication.
  • Another treatment option is the nerve block, which interrupts the signal that causes pain by putting an anesthetic on or around certain nerves.
  • Over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help reduce pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light during a migraine episode.
  • Prescription medications include those that treat the symptoms of migraines as well as those that prevent future attacks from occurring.
  • Proper treatment for migraines varies from person to person and specialists may prescribe a combination of drugs to control symptoms most effectively. Some of these medications include triptans, ergots, and anti-emetics.
  • Migraine sufferers who don’t respond well to medication can also consider other options such as Botox injections or nerve blockers.

The use of mobile technology has also opened up new avenues to help patients track their migraine symptoms and provide personalized treatment plans based on patient data.

Migraine treatment is still evolving as current research reveals more about genetic components of the condition as well as changes in brain structure.

Recent studies have shown that people with migraines are more likely to be sensitive to light and other sensory triggers which can lead to heightened pain during an attack. Using dark sunglasses and earplugs can help to block out these triggers and give migraine sufferers relief.

Newly available drugs such as Aimovig®, Erenumab, and Teva-Brand Namenda IR use monoclonal antibody technology which blocks the CGRP receptor so that it no longer binds to proteins in the brain triggering migraine attacks.

These new treatments are not available everywhere in the world yet but they show great promise for increasing migraine relief.

For many sufferers, these drugs can mean fewer symptoms and less reliance on medications with side effects.

At this point, there is no particular cure for migraines however doctors are beginning to see them more as a condition rather than an illness.

Conclusion paragraph:

The decision to treat a migraine is not easy, but it can be made easier by knowing what you are up against. This blog post has outlined the main types of migraines and their causes, as well as outlining how they should be diagnosed and treated. We hope this article has been helpful in your journey to understanding more about migraines and relief for them!

Note: This article is providing general information only. If you are struggling with migraines, it is recommended to see a doctor for proper medications.

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