Term migraine is erroneously used by many people to define any severe headache, but in fact it is the result of complex physiologic changes that take place within the brain and result in pain and specific accompanying symptoms. To this sensitivity to light, sound, and smells are included.
Apart from this, the majority of patients experience nausea or vomiting. Special sign of the migraine headache is pain that occur only in one side of the head with rare exceptions. Such pain is mostly characterized as pounding or throbbing.
Sometimes patients may experience specific warning symptoms, also called an aura, in several minutes before the onset of the disorder. They can range from flashing lights or a blind spot in one eye to numbness or weakness. The aura may last for several minutes, after that resulting as the head pain. Such symptoms may appear to be very scaring and even be mistaken for the symptoms of a heart stroke, if never experienced before. That is by far a contradictory question, because women experiencing migraines with aura have higher probability of getting a heart attack.
Practically one half of the human population may experience a migraine headache at some point in life. However, statics shows that most victims of migraine are female. Beginning with the adolescence period, the number of women experiencing migraines is three times bigger than men. What is more, there is a certain genetic susceptibility to the disorder, as there is in most cases a strong family history of migraines.
The recent research adds some new information about the way the disease functions and affects the organism of women. The close connection between aging, more specifically with the approach of menopause, and the growing frequency of migraines is confirmed. Actually, attacks of the disease tend to get worse in years before menopause.
The number of headaches becomes twice as big if women who go through this time period had a previous history of migraine attacks.
Menopause is the period in a woman’s life which is marked by the absence of menstrual periods for a year. The whole organism is rebuilding itself and thus experiencing a huge stress sometimes accompanied by the unpleasant symptoms. This process begins with the transitional period defined as perimenopause. It can continue for several years and characterize by irregular periods, hot flashes, sleep problems and high frequencies of migraine attacks.
The problem of growing headache frequency was more closely investigated in the recent survey. Almost four thousand women were questioned and classified according to the rate of migraine occurrence. The result showed that the analyzed frequency only grew with the course of time. Women with more than 10 days pro month marked by a headache were classified as having definite health problems.
Achieved results contradicted the established conception of the way women's organism function and seemed paradoxical. While it is known that women with migraine are inclined to suffer from them within a few days before bleeding and the first days of the cycle, it seemed illogical that women with fewer periods get more migraines. The explanation lies in correlation between the level of such hormones as estrogen and progesterone in the organism and attacks of the migraine. In both cases this level significantly sinks.
Therapy in this case aims at easing the symptoms and reducing the number of attacks, but it becomes nearly impossible to avoid them completely. Seeking for relief women might also consult with their doctors about taking hormone replacement therapy for a brief time, basing on the assumption that raising estrogen might help decrease headaches. However, benefits and the dangers of such hormone therapy should be thoroughly discussed, as they include increased risk of heart stroke.