Ask Your Doctor: MIGRAINE HEADACHES

anguillian
By anguillian November 27, 2017 11:55 Updated

 

 

 

Almost all of us experience a headache at some time in our lives, but some types of headaches are more serious than others and deserve special treatment. Migraine headaches are very common and can cause much suffering if not managed correctly.

What is a migraine?
A migraine is usually a moderate or severe headache felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head. Some individuals with migraine have symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light or sound.
Who gets migraine?
Migraine is a common health condition, affecting around one in every five women and around one in every 15 men. It usually begins in early adulthood. Migraines cause severe head pain that is often accompanied by sensitivity to light, sound, or smells. Migraines are often undiagnosed and untreated.
Types of migraines
There are several types of migraine which include the following:
• migraine with aura – where there are specific warning signs just before the migraine begins, such as seeing flashing lights
• migraine without aura – the most common type, where the migraine occurs without the specific warning signs
• migraine aura without headache, also known as silent migraine – where an aura or other migraine symptoms are experienced, but a headache does not develop
What causes migraine headaches?
The exact causes of migraines are unknown, although they are thought to be the result of temporary changes in the chemicals, nerves and blood vessels in the brain.
Approximately half of all people who experience migraines also have a close relative with the condition, suggesting that genes may play a role.
Some people find migraine attacks are associated with certain triggers which can include:
• starting their period
• stress
• tiredness
• certain foods or drinks
What happens during a migraine attack
A migraine usually lasts from four to seventy-two hours if untreated. The frequency with which headaches occur varies from person to person. Migraines may be rare, or strike several times a month. During a migraine, you may experience:
• Pain on one side or both sides of your head
• Pain that feels throbbing or pulsing
• Sensitivity to light, sounds, and sometimes smells and touch
• Nausea and vomiting
• Blurred vision
• Lightheadedness, sometimes followed by fainting
Diagnosis
Headaches are so common that individuals often do not seek medical advice for them even if they are very severe. It is strongly recommended that you should seek medical advice if you have any of the following signs and symptoms, which may indicate a more serious medical problem:
• An abrupt, severe headache like a thunderclap
• Headache with fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness or trouble speaking
• Headache after a head injury, especially if the headache gets worse
• A chronic headache that is worse after coughing, exertion, straining or a sudden movement
• New headache pain if you are older than 50
Once a diagnosis of migraine is made, or a more serious cause identified, your doctor will decide on treatment options.
Treatment
Currently there is no cure for migraines, but many treatments are available to help reduce the symptoms. These include:
• painkillers – including over-the-counter medications
• triptans – medications that can help reverse the changes in the brain that may cause migraines
• anti-emetics – medications often used to reduce nausea and vomiting
During an attack, many people find that sleeping or lying in a darkened room can also help.
Can you prevent migraines?
Some individuals who suffer from migraine can identify triggers for their attacks. If you suspect a specific trigger is causing your migraines, such as stress or a certain type of food, avoiding this trigger may help reduce your risk of experiencing migraines.
Some doctors have found that individuals who maintain a generally healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, sleep and meals, adequate hydration, and limit the intake of caffeine and alcohol, tend to have fewer migraines.
There are medications that can be used to help prevent further migraine attacks. Talk to your doctor about these medications.
Conclusion
Many individuals suffer from migraine headaches and often do not seek medical advice. There is no cure for migraine headaches, but there are medications available that can help reduce symptoms – and allow individuals with migraine to live a productive life free from the complications of migraine headaches. If you have symptoms suggestive of migraine seek professional help.
Ask Your Doctor is a health education column and is not a substitute for medical advice from your physician. The reader should consult his or her physician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field are ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.
Dr Brett Hodge MB BS DGO MRCOG, is an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist and Family Doctor who has over thirty-two years in clinical practice. Dr Hodge has a medical practice in The Johnson Building in The Valley (Tel: 264 4975828).

anguillian
By anguillian November 27, 2017 11:55 Updated

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