Migraine Symptoms, Causes, Treatment And Prevention
A migraine is defined as an intense head pain (headache), with a duration of 4 to 72 hours with a repetitive nature. A person who has migraines, can not perform normal daily activities . Although migraines are uncomfortable and interfere with the normal course of life, they do not cause long term damage. Migraines can be considered a disease and should be treated as such. It is important to be consulted by a specialist.
- Familial aggregation (genetic transmission), has been shown for migraines. However it is not known exactly why some people are more prone to migraines than others
- Expansion or narrowing of cerebral vessels (aneurysms, vascular stenosis ), which can cause intense headaches secondary to various chemical changes at this level (the chemical changes can cause inflammation, swelling and pain).
Symptoms of migraine may vary from case to case, often preceded by warning signs (the aura). Symptoms usually occur with typical aura about 30 minutes before the migraine attack itself and is characterized by headache that increases in intensity and with a degree of visual disturbances (the patient sees black spots or bright flashes). Other signs are a feeling of numbness or tingling in the arms, hands or face during the aura. However, most people do not have an aura before a migraine. These symptoms are :
– throbbing headache on one side of the skull;
– moderate to severe headache;
– increased headache along with routine physical activity;
– nausea, vomiting;
– sensitivity to light (photophobia) or audible stimuli, sometimes even to certain odors.
A day or two before the migraine appears, the persons affected by these disease report different signs, marked fatigue, drowsiness, selective appetite for certain foods (for example chocolate), irritability or anxiety.
An alarming 30% of people who suffer from this disease, present before the migraine sets in, some warning signs, called “the aura”. The aura sings install in approximately 5-20 minutes and are characterized by the appearance of visual disturbances such as intense light flashes, black spots, feeling the distortion of images. Also, there may be sensory disturbances numbness, tingling in the hands, arms or face.
In rare cases the patient can not describe in words the sensations experienced.
- Family history of migraine;
- Sex : women have an increased risk of developing migraine headaches three times higher than men;
- Teens and young adults;
- Diseases such as, depression, anxiety, depression, asthma or epilepsy.
Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Aspirin, Ibuprofen). Most experts recommend using NSAIDs, initially, before using other drugs that may have more side effects.
- Serotonin receptor agonists (triptans) are drugs that are used when trying to reduce the headache quickly;
- Ergotamine derivatives such as Cafergot, are also used to treat migraines but not as effective as triptans.
Drugs used to prevent migraine episodes
- Beta-blockers that produce relaxation of vascular muscle;
- Calcium channel blockers that reduce the narrowing of blood vessels;
- Antidepressant medications, or tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline are also useful in preventing migraine episodes;
- Anti-convulsive drugs such as topiramate has recently been approved as a pharmaceutical associations anti-migraine medication.
Patients who suffer from this disease can achieve effective prevention by avoiding certain trigger factors, such as:
- consumption of chocolate, mono-sodium glutamate, red wine and caffeine;
- Sleep excess or insufficient sleep;
- Irregular meals or no meals;
- Weather and barometric changes (decrease or increase in atmospheric pressure);
- Stress and intense emotions;
- Strong odors or cigarette smoke;
- Bright, intense light including reflection.