Information on Migraine Headaches: What You Should Know Now!

How to Make Sense of Information on Migraine Headaches

You see them everywhere… on television, on social media, and in magazines; advertisements with information on migraine headaches and treatments for chronic migraine. But just what is a migraine headache and at what point do migraine attacks constitute chronic migraine?

In this article, we will define migraine and chronic migraine, look at the stages of migraine and discuss complications of migraine. I have culled through all the information on migraine headaches available on the web and will bring you all the best and latest information on migraine headaches.

What makes migraine headaches and chronic migraine such big business? There are 36-37 million men, women and children in the US alone who suffer from migraine headaches or chronic migraine, and experts believe that nearly half of the people who suffer from this debilitating disease go undiagnosed.

That would mean that nearly one in four people in the United States suffers from migraine headache. The US is not alone in its suffering, though. The World Health Organization counts migraine in its top ten “most disabling diseases on the planet.” Migraine headaches cost Americans $20 BILLION dollars a year, $11billion in the healthcare industry alone. Surely you can see what makes it so attractive to advertisers.

Migraine VS Headache, Which is Which?

First, it is important to know that there is no single test that determines if the pain you’re suffering is migraine vs headache. There is, however, a big enough difference between the two that you can, short of ruling out other causes for the pain, self-diagnose migraine headache. There is a large difference in the quality of pain that accompanies a migraine and a tension headache. That is because there is a difference in what is causing the pain.

A tension headache is caused when the muscle in your head, neck, and shoulder tighten to the point where they hurt. This causes a dull, yet consistent pain in the minor to moderate range felt all over the head and often in the neck and shoulders as well. In a migraine headache attack, the nerves on the surface of the brain become irritated by the release of calcitonin gene-related peptides (CGRP) and dilate causing chemicals, like serotonin and proglasdins, which travel to the trigeminal nerve system (or the brainstem), to release pain impulses and the other symptoms associated with migraine.

The pain is generally felt on just one side of the head, corresponding to the blood vessels which were affected in the first place. It is not entirely uncommon for a migraine to be felt all over the head, however. The pain in a migraine is throbbing or pulsing and is moderate to severe. It is VERY IMPORTANT if you have pain that falls into this category that you consult a doctor right away to rule out anything more serious!

Other symptoms, as I mentioned, accompany migraine attacks, the most common of which is nausea and vomiting. In fact, a full 80% of migraine sufferers report nausea and/or vomiting with their migraines. Classic symptoms include sensitivity to light (photophobia), sensitivity to sound (Phonophobia), lightheadedness irritability, moodiness, restlessness, depression, tingling or weakness in the arms and legs on one side of the body, confusion, fatigue, tiredness, pale face, and sweaty hands. More severe symptoms include diarrhea, constipation, slurring of speech, inability to speak, paralyzation on one side of the body and other symptoms which accompany stroke

Nearly 30% of people with migraine experience migraine aura preceding and sometimes lasting into the period of pain. Symptoms of aura include visual disturbances (pinpoints of lights, shooting lights, flashing lights, blind spots, blurriness or loss of vision), tingling (pins and needles sensation) in your extremities, weakness or numbness on one side of your body, difficulty speaking, hearing noises or music, uncontrollable jerky movements or limb weakness. Aura generally lasts from 5 to 60 minutes preceding the migraine pain.

Stages of Migraine Headaches

Among the information on migraine headaches available on the Internet, I found the stages of a migraine: Prodrome, Aura, Migraine Attack and Postdrome also know as the aftermath or “migraine hangover”

  • Prodrome: occurs in the one or two days prior to a migraine attack. Symptoms you may experience during this stage are constipation, mood changes (depression or euphoria), food cravings, neck stiffness, increased thirst and urination and frequent yawning. With most people, the prodromal stage goes unnoticed.
  • Aura: only 30% of people with migraine headache experience aura, the symptoms of which are photophobia, phonophobia, Tingling, weakness, numbness, difficulty speaking hearing noises or music when there is nothing playing and/or uncontrollable jerking movements.
  • Migraine Attack: This is the period of a headache in which your experience the moderate to severe, throbbing or pulsing pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sensitivity to light and sound, and lightheartedness. Some also experience to smell and touch. Those who experience lightheartedness may also faint. This stage of a migraine headache, the one people are most familiar with, can last from4 hours to 72 hours or more. Migraine attacks can happen at any time during the day, but most occur between the hours of 4:00 am and 9:00 am.
  • Postdrome: Occurs after the pain subsides and can last up to 7 days. During this period, sufferers experience depleted energy, irritability, depression, mood swings, muscle weakness, tiredness, fatigue, and sleepiness. Most people find the need increased sleep to recover from a migraine. You may have experienced this yourself.

Beyond Migraine; Complications From Migraine

Migraine headaches are a neurological disorder. Sometimes they don’t stop at occasional events that keep you from your life temporarily They can have complications, too. While all the complications of migraine are serious and have lasting effects for those who suffer them, some are catastrophic.

Among the complication I found in the online information on migraine headaches, the most commonly known complication of migraine is Chronic Migraine. Chronic migraine is defined as 4 or more migraine attack that results in 15 or more “migraine days.” Migraine days are the days in which you suffer from symptoms of all the stages of migraine put together.

Even if you don’t experience all the stages of migraine, remember that the postdromal, or final stage of migraine can last up to 7 days. It is, therefore easy to see how a person can become completely disabled by migraine attacks. Migraine attacks can also overlap resulting in considerable suffering.

Chronic migraine is becoming more and more common, too as triggers for migraine, such as pollutants in the air, become more common. There is hope though, as there is more and more research resulting in more and better treatment for chronic migraine.

Next is the condition is known as Status Migranous. This is when the Migraine Attack stage of migraine last for more than 72 hours. Some people have experienced migraine attacks that last for more than a week. Status Migranous is a condition that should be treated in a hospital setting. It is easy to dehydrate during a migraine, with or without nausea, vomiting and or diarrhea. The lack of interest to put anything on your stomach during a migraine can lead to dehydration which actually lengthens a migraine attack. In a hospital, you will be given fluids to treat dehydration along with medications to put an end to the attack.

The next two migraine complications involve the aura stage of a migraine. Even if you do not seem to have an aura, you can suffer these complications. These complications may happen up to one week following a migraine.

The first is Persistent Aura Without Infarction. What this means is that you are having the symptoms of a stroke {slurred speech, facial drooping, hemiplegic (or one-sided) paralysis, numbness and weakness on one side of your body} Without infarction means that no stroke or disruption of the circulation in the brain occurred.

The last complication of migraine is Migranous Infarction.  This happens when the irritation of the blood vessels in your brain have caused the circulation to be disrupted (cut off) to part of your brain. The symptoms that occur are determined by which part of the brain is affected.

Summary

To review, there is a lot of information on migraine headaches out there on the internet. I have saved you some time and effort by presenting that information to your here in this overview. A migraine headache is much more than a tension headache in that it is throbbing or pulsing rather than a persistent ache. It also is generally accompanied by symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. There are four stages of a migraine, though you do not have to suffer from all these stages to have a migraine attack. One of these stages is aura which could persist and result in persistent Aura with infarction or a migranous infarction.

In the future, you can expect me to delve into each of these areas of migraine, as well as what can trigger migraine and the medical and self-help treatments for migraine. I hope that you have enjoyed this overview of information on migraine headaches and I hope that you will feel free to join me again in the future.

To learn more, leave any thoughts or questions you have in the comment section below.

 

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