Migraine is an extreme headache that is caused when some chemicals are released around the arteries of the brain. These chemicals make the vessels become enlarged; the increase in the volume of blood circulated results in a squeezing effect on the brain.
This increased pressure on the swollen walls of the blood vessels causes the migraine pain. When migraine attacks, it activates the sympathetic nervous system. This system is responsible for the body being in a state of stress and pain.
The approximate place of pain is mostly located on the forehead or in the region around the eyes. When an attack occurs, it may last between four to 72 hours.
Generally, migraine presents itself as a slow pain and then continues to progress as a continuous pulsating pain near the temples, or at the front or back of the one side of the head.
Migraine symptoms may begin one to two days before the headache itself.
- 20% of migraine attack symptoms usually start suddenly
- flashes of light, hallucinations, blind spots, sensitivity to light
- Pain in and around the eyeballs and the paralysis of the optical muscles
- Dizziness, loss of balance, disorientation, slurred speech, vertigo, double vision, tingling, aura, poor muscle control, ringing in the ears, nausea, and vomiting
- Numbness on one side of the body, fatigue, or low energy
Causes of Migraine
A migraine headache generally results from genetics or certain environmental factors. The exact root cause of migraine headaches is not entirely known. However, doctors believe they are related to the enlargement of blood vessels and the release of specific chemicals that produce a headache.
For instance, the chemicals serotonin and dopamine are considered to be associated with migraine headaches. They are found in the brain and control the blood vessels to act normally, except when they appear in abnormal concentrations.
The pain regulation nervous system is controlled by serotonin, thus the reduction of the chemical during migraine attacks. This can cause the trigeminal system to produce neuropeptides which go to brain meninges and result in headaches.
Different triggers can bring about migraines. These triggers are different from person to person. These include-
- Migraines can be triggered by certain foods such as aged cheeses, chocolate, aspartame, and nuts. Caffeine and alcohol, especially beer and red wine are also possible culprits. Missing a meal or fasting might increase the chance of attacks.
- Stress Elevated levels of emotional or physical stress might trigger the onset of migraine headaches.
- Changes in sleeping patterns such as inadequate sleep or excessive sleep are possible triggers for migraine headaches. The study, published in the journal Neurology, revealed that sleep fragmentation — time spent in bed, but not asleep — was linked to migraine onset not on the next day, but rather the day after that.
- Medication some medicines can intensify migraine attacks. At the end of the birth control pill cycle, women may experience migraines due to the cessation of metabolism of estrogen components in the pills.
How do I know if my headache is a migraine?
In migraine headaches, people can feel the pain in the temples or behind one eye or ear, although any part of the head can be involved.
Besides pain, migraines also can cause nausea and vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. Some people also may see spots or flashing lights or have a temporary loss of vision.
TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS
- Migraine headaches can be diagnosed by exploring the symptoms experienced by the patient and finding out his or her family history. A complete physical exam is required if the headache is due to a sinus problem, muscle tension, or a severe brain disorder.
- Computerized tomography (CT)-In this test a series of computer-directed X-rays are taken to display a cross-sectional view of the brain. This method can be used to identify tumors, infection, or other possible medical problems that cause headaches.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)- MRI scans are used to determine tumors, strokes, aneurysms, neurological disorders, and other brain abnormalities. Very detailed cross-sectional views of the brain are produced by MRIs by using radio waves and a powerful magnet.
There are different methods of treatment for migraines. They include-
- Massage therapy has been known as a suitable way to relieve pain. Massage therapy
refreshes the body.
- Resting with your eyes closed in a dark, quiet room or putting a cool compress or ice pack on your forehead reduces the frequency and severity of migraine.
- Relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, and mindful breathing can help you prevent migraines. Yoga can reduce not just the pain, but also the treatment cost of migraines, a new study has found. The study conducted by AIIMS was published in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, according to a statement by AIIMS.
- Identify and avoid triggers. Keep track of your symptom patterns in a diary so you can figure out what’s causing them.
- Ask your doctor about preventive medicines if you get migraines around your period or if lifestyle changes don’t help.