Migraine: Symptoms, Types, Diagnosis & Treatment
Migraine is a neurological disorder that can cause several symptoms. It's generally characterized by intense, debilitating headaches. The symptoms can also include nausea, vomiting, numbness or tingling, increased sensitivity to light and sensitivity. Migraines can run between the families and can happen to people of all age groups.
Read the complete blog and get to know about the symptoms, types, diagnosis, and treatment of migraine.
What Are The Symptoms Of Migraine?
A migraine that starts in childhood, adolescence or young adulthood may advance through the four stages listed below:
Not everyone’s condition of migraine goes through all the four stages. Let us now discuss the symptoms people commonly experience in these stages:
Prodrome (Early Warning)
Prodrome phase symptoms are experienced by nearly 30% of migraine sufferers. It is a warning sign for an impending migraine attack and can start anytime, ranging from a few hours to a few days before the attack.
- Mood changes
- Food cravings
- Frequent yawning
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Muscle stiffness
- Inability to concentrate
- Increased sensitivity to sound or light
- Poor sleep quality
- Trouble speaking and reading
This phase of migraine is experienced by nearly 25% of the total cases. It happens an hour before the headache strikes.
Aura occurs when there is an electrochemical reaction in the brain.
- Visual disturbances
- Temporary vision loss
- Numbness or tingling sensation on body parts
Attack Phase (during headache)
A migraine attack is very exhausting that typically starts at one part of the brain. With time, the site of the pain may move to other parts of the brain as well.
Different people experience different types of pain in this phase of migraine -
- Ice pick in the head
The intensity of the pain may increase by day-to-day activities and other concrete activities. The duration of the pain can last upto 72 hours for this phase.
- Increased sensitivity to smell
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Neck pain
- Muscle stiffness
Postdrome (after headache)
This phase is called “migraine hangover.” Some of the migraine sufferers take time to recover from the intense headache. You can take pain relievers prescribed by your doctor to get relief from the pain for this phase.
- Mental confusion
- Lack of understanding
What Are The Types Of Migraine Headaches?
The two prominent types of migraine headaches include:
1. Migraine Without Aura: This type of migraine is called “common migraine,” and it is one of the most common types of migraine. It accounts for about 75% of the overall migraine cases.
People experience throbbing pain on one part of the head. The severity of the pain ranges from moderate to severe, and routine physical activities can significantly increase the pain.
Symptoms of common migraine include nausea and vomiting. You may even feel challenging to withstand intense light and sound.
Common migraine doesn’t start with aura, and the symptoms can last from 4-72 hours.
2. Migraine With Aura: Also called “classic migraine.” You may start feeling strange and get an indication of the impending headache.
You get a ringing sound in your ears, feel dizzy or see bright and flashy light. About one-quarter of the cases are migraines with aura and can hurt a lot. The condition is not life-threatening and could be treated with certain medications and treatments.
Some other types of migraine also exist which are listed below:
1. Migraine Equivalent: If you ever had a migraine at your younger age, you can get stuck with this type of migraine when you get old(after the age of 50 years). It is similar to migraine with aura, except for the fact that a headache does not succeed it.
2. Complicated Migraine: The symptoms of the complicated migraine lasts until you experience the headache and goes after that. The common symptoms of this migraine include temporary loss of vision, difficulty in speaking and comprehending things, tingling, numbness, etc.
3. Menstrual Migraine: Several women get a migraine before, during, or after their menstrual cycle. They usually experience symptoms similar to that of classic migraines.
4. Abdominal Migraine: children are generally more susceptible to this type of migraine. They don’t experience throbbing headache, instead, get a sensation of nausea and vomiting.
What Triggers Migraine?
- Improper sleep
- Poor posture
- Physical Exertion
- Low blood sugar level
- Jet lag (when people travel through different time zones quickly or when their rest is distressed)
- Due to hormonal changes, women experience migraines during their menstrual cycle.
- Second-hand smoke
- Strong smell
- Loud noise
- Stuffy rooms
- Flickering screens
- Sleeping pills
- Contraceptive pills
- HRT(Hormone Replacement Therapy) medications
- Citrus fruits
How Is Migraine Diagnosed?
1. MRI: The doctor utilizes radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce comprehensive pictures of blood vessels and brain. With an MRI, doctors can detect -
- internal bleeding
- Other brain and neurological disorders
2. CT Scan: A CT scan produces cross-sectional pictures of different parts of the brain by using successive x-rays. With this test, the doctors can detect -
- Brain damage
- Internal bleeding
- Other medical emergencies
What Medications Treat Migraine?
The migraine treatment can not only help relieve the symptoms but also can avoid the risk of a future attack.
There are two broad categories of medications available for migraine:
- Preventive Medications: These medications can reduce the pain and frequency of migraines when taken regularly.
- Pain-relieving Medications: These medications relieve the symptoms and are used during a migraine attack.
Let us now have a brief discussion on the above-listed categories of medications:
Antidepressants can help prevent the risk of migraines. Example: Amitriptyline
- Weight gain
Blood Pressure Lowering Medicines
- Beta-Blockers - It makes your heartbeat slower by blocking some of the hormones. Examples: Propranolol, Metoprolol.
- Calcium Channel Blockers: It blocks calcium away from your heart and blood vessels. It also helps blood vessels widen and relax as per the requirement. Example: Verapamil.
- ACE Inhibitors: It can reduce the frequency of headaches. Examples: Lisinopril, Candesartan.
- Weight gain
It can decrease the frequency of headaches in migraine. Example: Topiramate, Valproate
- Weight changes
Adults need to take Botox(onabotulinumtoxinA)injection once every 12 weeks to prevent migraines.
- Blurred vision
- Muscle stiffness and weakness
- Trouble swallowing
CGRP Monoclonal Antibodies
These drugs are FDA(Food and Drug Administration) approved and are given once every month to prevent migraines.
- Reaction on the site of injection
- Bleeding and ulcers of the gastrointestinal tract
- Over-exploitation of medicines
Narcotic opioid medications containing codeine
- Mood swings
- Chest pain
- Tingling of the skin
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