Migraine Headaches – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
A 2003 study by the World Health Organization, estimated that as many as 303 million persons worldwide suffer from migraine headaches. Being so widespread, it is possible that you, or someone you know, could be a migraineur, (a person who has a migraine headache). Therefore it is good to know what you are dealing with. What are migraines, and what makes them different from ordinary headaches? Also; what are the causes, triggers, symptoms, treatment methods and prevention. We will explore these issues and more in this article.
Migraine headaches have been attributed to several causes, but perhaps the one on which there is most agreement, relates to the expansion of the blood vessels in the head. A migraine is characterized by severe head pain, which is usually limited to one side of the head.
There are two main types, classic migraines also known as migraines with aura, and common migraines or migraines without aura. Aura, usually takes the form of visual disturbances such as blind spots, dots, specks, flashes, and similar conditions. There are some of the affected who experience aura during the early stage of a migraine attack, before full blown symptoms occur.
The most common symptoms identified by migranieurs are: sensitivity to light and noise, numbness, speech difficulty, nausea and vomiting. Because symptoms can vary from person to person, migraines sometimes go undiagnosed, leading to even more suffering for the people with this condition.
There are several things that can trigger a migraine headache. There are some that can be controlled, such as second hand smoke, certain types of food, alcohol, and bright lights. There are others, such as changes in the weather, over which you do not have any control.
As more research is being done and new facts being unearthed about migraine, it is now recognized in some quarters, as a purely neurological disease. Perhaps not so well known, is the fact that migraines have been proven to lead to conditions such as strokes and comas.
Another, less acknowledged fact of migraine a headache, is the disruption it can cause in the lives of those who are afflicted. Due to the their intensity and severity, many migraine suffers are unable to function normally during an episode, which can last several hours, or in some cases, several days. Some are unable to get relief from traditional remedies, and can only lock themselves away in a dark room to get some relief. This can seriously impact their job, and family and other relationships.
There are preventive treatments available, which are usually prescribed for persons who suffer more than 2 attacks in a given month. Included in these are beta-blockers and antidepressants. Over time, these can reduce the swelling of the blood vessels, but do not necessarily treat all the symptoms of a migraine.
There are other preventive treatments, not involving the use of drugs, which have been successful. These include the use of herbs such as feverfew and butterbur, and supplements such as Vitamin B2, magnesium and coenzyme Q10.
As the number of persons suffering with migraine headaches has increased, so has the research. This has resulted in more awareness of the disorder, and in addition, more information being available that can help migranieurs. While the debilitating effects of the condition are undeniable, there is help available to combat its effects, and to help prevent it.