Up to 36 million Americans (that’s around 12 percent of the population) are impacted by migraines, but people aged 15 to 55 years are most at risk for migraines.
- Some people suffering from migraines are able to identify triggers such as allergies, light, or stress that are causing or contributing to their headaches
- Some people experience warning symptoms before the migraine starts
- Full-blown migraine attacks can be prevented if the warning signs are recognized early enough and preventative action is taken.
- Some over-the-counter medications can reduce the symptoms associated with migraines
- There are also treatments specially for migraines, such as Ketamine infusions
What triggers migraines?
Exactly what causes migraines is still unknown, but they are thought to result from abnormal activity in the brain which affects the way nerves, chemicals, and blood vessels within the brain communicate.
The following factors are known to trigger migraines:
- Hormonal changes, especially in women during menstruation
- Emotional triggers like stress, anxiety, depression, or even excitement
- Not getting enough sleep
- Tension in your shoulder or neck
- Poor posture
- Alcohol and caffeine
- Certain medications and sleeping pills
- Flickering screens
- Especially strong smells
- Secondhand smoke
- Loud noises
- Bright lights
What treatment options are there?
There is no real clue for migraines, but there are treatments that can relieve the symptoms. Examples of lifestyle changes that can help reduce the frequency of experiencing migraines include the following:
- Sleeping well
- Stress reduction
- Drinking enough water
- Regular physical exercise
Some people also report that certain diets, like gluten-free, can help reduce the symptoms of migraines.
Fortunately, there is a new and innovative treatment option in Ketamine Infusions, an FDA-approved anesthetic that can bring relief to some patients within minutes.
What are the types of migraines?
Migraines fall into two distinct categories, usually classified by experiencing disturbances of the sense (known as auras) before the migraine.
Migraines with auras
Auras may appear as a sort of warning that a person is about to experience a migraine. An aura is described as experiencing the following:
- Seeing sparkling or flashing lights
- Seeing zig-zagging lines
- Blind spots in vision
- Pins and needles sensations in arms or legs
- Trouble speaking
- Stiffness in the shoulders and neck
- Unpleasant odors
- There are also more serious symptoms that should not be ignored, especially if they are infrequently experienced by the person:
An abnormally severe headache
- Visual disturbances
- Loss of sensation
To further describe the strange ways aura affects vision, the person affected may see transparent strings of objects or other lights that are not actually there. They may also be missing parts of their field of vision or not seeing objects in front of them. These sensations are sometimes described as similar to being exposed to a bright camera flash up-close.
Migraines without auras
Up to 90 percent of migraines occur without experiencing any aura or sensory disturbance leading up to the migraine itself.
Other types of migraines
- Chronic Migraines: Any migraine that is experienced over 15 days each month.
- Menstrual Migraines: Migraines occurring in a pattern connected to the menstrual cycle
- Hemiplegic Migraines: This type of migraines causes weaknesses on one side of the body for a period of time
- Abdominal Migraines: A syndrome that connects migraines to irregular functions of the gut and abdomen. This is most common in children under 14 years.
- Migraines with Brainstem Auras: A rarer type of migraine that triggers severe neurological symptoms.
Symptoms of Migraines
Symptoms may start some time before the headache, but can also come on immediately before, during, or even after the headache. Not everyone experiences migraines the same, but the most common symptoms include the following:
- Moderate or severe pain that typically occurs on one side of the head (but can occur on either side)
- Throbbing or pulsing pain
- Increased pain during physical activity
- Being unable to carry out regular activities due to pain
- Feelings of nausea or vomiting
- Increased sensitivity to both light and sound
- Less common symptoms include:
What is the difference between a migraine and a headache?
To get the best treatment possible, it is important to understand the difference between a migraine attack and a headache.
There are a multitude of kinds of headaches that vary in severity, length, and causes. Headaches, unlike migraines, may not occur in a recognizable pattern.
Migraines are moderate or severe headaches that typically occur on one side of the head and bring on other symptoms like nausea and vomiting. Migraines are usually caused by different factors than typical headaches.
To identify whether one is experiencing a migraine or another kind of headache, one should consider keeping a diary of symptoms noting when they appear, what triggered them, how long they lasted, and any other symptoms like if noticeable auras or signs were experienced.
A headache diary should be maintained for a period of at least eight weeks and should record the following:
- The frequency of headaches
- The duration of headaches
- The severity of symptoms
- Associated symptoms
- Prescribed or over-the-counter medications taken to relieve symptoms
- Possible triggers
- The relationship to menstrual cycle, if any