A migraine is a complex disorder that involves episodes of recurrent and severe headaches. A migraine headache is usually on one side and may be associated with visual or sensory symptoms, collectively called an aura.
Migraines typically last from four to 72 hours. The frequency of migraines differs for everyone, but usually, there would be two to four headaches per month. In some, the migraines may occur every few days, while others may get them once or twice a year.
What are the four stages of migraines?
The various four stages of migraines include:
- Prodrome: Also known as the preheadache stage, it precedes a migraine attack. It can last for several hours or several days. During this phase, taking medication, practicing a stress-relieving technique, or avoiding trigger factors can prevent a migraine attack. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Aura: This stage can last from five to 60 minutes and occurs before a headache. Some people may not go through this stage. Migraine with aura has the following symptoms:
- Blurry vision
- Vision loss
- The appearance of geometric patterns, flashing or shimmering lights
- The appearance of blind spots in one or both the eyes.
- Headache: This stage is characterized by pain on one or both sides of the head. The degree of pain varies from person to person as some may have mild pain and for others, it may be devastating. Apart from pain, there can be:
- Postdrome: Typically known as the migraine hangover stage, it follows the migraine headache. Approximately 80% of patients suffer from postdrome. Symptoms of postdrome include:
What triggers a migraine?
Things that may trigger a migraine attack include:
- Lack of sleep
- Weather changes
- Certain foods
- Schedule changes
- Strong smells
- Bruxism (teeth grinding at night)
What are the symptoms of migraines?
The two forms of migraine are migraine with aura and migraine without aura.
Migraine with aura: In this, a person might observe below symptoms (aura) 10 to 30 minutes before an attack:
- Seeing flashing lights, zigzag lines, or blind spots
- Numbness or tingling in the face or hands
- Altered sense of smell, taste, or touch
- Feeling mentally “fuzzy”
Migraine without aura: In this, a person does not have an aura, but has all typical symptoms of an attack.
The symptoms of a migraine attack are:
- Throbbing headache which gets worse after a physical activity
- Sensitivity to light, noise, and smell
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling warm or cold
- Pale skin
- Blurred vision
- Impairment in language
How is migraine treated?
There’s no cure for migraine headaches. The physicians recommend that medications along with some alternative therapies may help to treat or even prevent a migraine attack.
Medications commonly used in the treatment of migraines are:
- Pain relief medicines
- Nausea medicine
- Some antidepressants, calcium-channel blockers, and beta-blockers may help prevent the attack.
Alternative therapies useful in treating migraine attack include:
- Biofeedback: This technique involves recognizing the stressful situations that could trigger an attack and resolving it.
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): This technique involves sending a pulse of magnetic energy to the specific regions of the brain to stop or reduce pain.
Some lifestyle changes that may help prevent the attack include:
- Staying hydrated
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Regular exercise, but avoid exertion
- Keeping a track of all the triggers
- Taking preventive medicines to avoid migraine headaches around the time of periods
- Eating at regular intervals
- Reducing stress
- Avoiding foods which trigger attacks
- Rubbing or applying the pressure to the spot where you feel pain
- Placing a cold cloth on the head during a headache