What Is A Migraine, Please Make It Stop!
What Is A Migraine?
My unofficial definition of a migraine is, “Severe misery in your head followed by pharmaceutical treatments that don’t always help.” Again, this is my opinion of what a migraine is. The official definition of a migraine is, “A genetic neurological disease that is characterized by episodes called Migraine attacks.”
Truth be told, there are about 100 million headache sufferers in the U.S. Of that amount about 40 million of them suffer from migraines. What most don't know is that women statistically suffer from migraines over twice as much as men do.
What else can you tell me?
Most migraines are not caused by other disorders such as brain tumors or an injury to the head. For most, the pain is typically centralized around either the left or right side of the head. There are also those who feel the pain all over their entire head. The frequency or pain level is different in every sufferer. For some, the pain is moderate and for others very severe. For some, they experience migraines a few times a month to every single day. The majority of migraine sufferers experience them 4-6 times per month. On the extreme end of the scale are those who suffer daily from migraine pain and severe head pressure.
How long will the pain last?
Again, this is dependent on the individual. Many people will have migraines that last a few hours up to a few days. There is not a, “One size fits all” when talking about migraines. The amount of time a sufferer is affected by the migraine attack typically lasts longer than the actual migraine itself. With migraines, there is typically a buildup phase (or premonitory). Some experience what is called a post-drome effect. This can last one to two days or even longer depending on the sufferer.
I want to know what causes them?
Again, different people have different triggers and symptoms when it comes to migraines. For example, some experience ocular issues, some auras (which can change your vision) and some can be triggered by weather. I’ve heard stories of people seeing bright spots or strange illusions while suffering from a migraine. The sad thing is doctors have not figured out what the exact cause of them is. It is a great mystery. They have discovered things to help with the pain but are not much closer to a cure. One recent study suggests that hyperactivity in different parts of the brain causes them. One thing doctors have discovered is that a migraine sufferers' brain is different biochemically than someone who does not suffer.
Two additional facts are migraines are more prevalent in women and also tend to run in the family, so to speak. So in other words, if mom suffered from migraines there is a good chance you will too.
How do I get diagnosed if I think I am having migraines?
The International Headache Society says that migraines run in two categories: Migraines with aura and migraines without aura. According to the IHS, in order to diagnose migraine with aura, they must be preceded by the following: Vomiting, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound or smell.
Common symptoms and statistics
About 85 percent of migraine sufferers experience throbbing head pain. About 80 percent experience light and sound sensitivity. 73 percent of sufferers experience nausea. Approximately 60 percent feel the pain only on one side of their head. 36 percent experience aura with 30 percent experiencing vomiting. Other symptoms patients speak of are, sensitivity to smells, stiff neck, weakness or dizziness.
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