Approximately 29.5 million Americans are affected by migraine headaches. The odds are that you know at least one of them, or maybe you are one of them. Though they are generally not a threat to your overall health, migraine headaches can interfere significantly with your daily life.
What is a migraine?
Migraine headaches are recurring headaches, characterized by throbbing, intense pain, typically on one or both sides of the head. The majority of people feel this pain in their temples, or behind their ears. However, any part of the head can be affected by a migraine headache. Some people who suffer from migraines can also suffer from neck pain, though this is less common.
Migraines are slightly more common in women than in men. Research indicates this has something to do with the dramatic hormone changes that take place over a woman’s life, as well as hormones more common in the female body, like estrogen.
What causes migraines?
Migraine headaches seem to have a strong genetic component, though the exact role genetics play in migraines is unknown.
People who suffer migraines often have triggers for their migraine headaches; catalysts that kickstart their migraine headaches. Some of the more common triggers include:
- Hormonal changes, mostly in women
- Bright or flashing lights
- Loud noises
- Strong smells
- Erratic sleep schedules
- Sudden changes in the weather or environment
- Caffeine or caffeine withdrawal
- Skipped meals
- Taking too much medication for frequent migraines
- Certain foods, including alcohol, aged cheeses, MSG, yeast, and cured or processed meats
In people who suffer migraine headaches, the presence of any of these triggers could bring on a migraine.
What are the symptoms of a migraine?
Migraines have four phases, though each person may not experience all four phases every time they have a migraine headache. The four phases are prodome, aura, headache, and postdrome.
This phase can begin up to 24 hours before the migraine headache. You may show certain signs and symptoms, such as food cravings, uncontrollable yawning, fluid retention, frequent urination, or unexplained mood swings.
This phase can occur right before or during a migraine. People who experience the aura phase may feel as though someone is grabbing or touching them, may experience muscle weakness, see flashes of light or zig-zag lines.
The actual headache part of a migraine can begin gradually, and escalate in severity over time. The pain is often described as throbbing or pulsing, and centers on one or both sides of the head. Though this is the hallmark sign of a migraine, you can actually have a migraine without having a headache. Other migraine symptoms include:
- Increased sensitivity to light, noise, and smells
- Nausea and vomiting
- An increase in pain when you move, cough, or sneeze
How do I treat a migraine?
There is no cure for migraines. Treatment involves managing symptoms and preventing future attacks.
There are multiple medications you can take to relieve the pain of a migraine. You can also do things like resting in a darkened, quiet room with your eyes shut, place a cool cloth or ice pack on your forehead, or on the back of your neck if you experience neck pain, and drink plenty of fluids.
To help prevent migraines, the most effective method is lifestyle changes.
You can keep a log of what triggers your migraine attacks, and search for patterns: do they always happen after you eat a certain dish, or stay in a certain place for a long period of time? If so, you will know to avoid those foods and places to stave off your migraines.
Stress management strategies are also important. Getting plenty of exercise, relaxation, and any number of other things that reduce stress levels are key to preventing migraines.
Hormone therapy may be helpful for women who suffer from migraines in relation to their menstrual cycle.
If you suffer from obesity, losing weight could also be helpful in preventing migraine headaches. To see whatother type of headache you might have, then reference this chart.
Contact the Dallas Pain Relief Center today
Don’t let your migraines ruin your life. If you suffer from frequent migraines, or frequent neck pain, contact the Dallas Pain Relief Center today.
Get your life back on track by receiving the best pain relief treatment available in the Dallas, Fort Worth and Plano, Texas area. Contact us now to set up an appointment with pain management doctor, Dr. Rodriguez.