People experience migraine headaches in different ways. Even among individual migraine suffers the pain and associated symptoms can be experienced differently.
Migraine headaches are often felt on one side of the head but can start on both sides or the front or back. The pain may also start on one side and progress to other areas. The pain is often throbbing but can be described in different ways. The headaches vary in length from a few hours to a few days. Associated symptoms can often include some numbness, tingling, nausea, vomiting, changes in vision and of course often associated with irritability. Light and sound sensitivity called photophobia and otophobia are also frequently present as the patient is suffering a migraine. Every person is different and migraine symptom characteristics can vary greatly.
Women are three times more likely to suffer migraine than men.
Migraine headaches sometimes have phases to them.
A prodrome is a feeling or sensation that somebody gets before their actual migraine headache starts. Sometimes the prodrome can be detected as a change in a person’s energy level, or mood changes. It can even be something like food cravings or even urinating more. If a migraineur becomes aware of their prodrome, they may be able to take action at that time to prevent a full blown migraine attack from starting.
Auras are sensations that are felt just before or as a migraine itself is starting. A classic aura might be flashing lights or stars that the patient sees. These are referred to as scintillating scotoma. People may also feel funny skin sensations or even confusion or trouble speaking.
Migraine headaches are different than other type of headaches in that they have associated somatic sensations or symptoms. They are often commonly nausea or fatigue vomiting or numbness another station another this to their skin they may feel.
When the migraine headache subsides the person will often feel tired or even confused. They can feel like the headache will start again if they move too fast or bend over.
The frequency of migraine headaches can vary greatly among patients. Some people only have an occasional migraine headache. Other people have frequent migraine headaches. If a patient has more than 15 headaches a month this is considered a chronic migraine.
The severity of the symptoms can also vary greatly. Even among individual patients, that person may normally have mild migraines that are controlled with or without meds, but then have an occasional severe migraine.
A special form of migraine headache called status migrainosis is when a patient has an unrelenting headache that last more than a few days it can’t be resolved by medications.
It is not exactly known what causes migraine headaches. Researchers and physicians used to believe it was primarily a blood vessel problem. A general understanding now is that it is a combination of problems with neural pathways and some brain chemical changes. There is also evidence for a genetic component in the relationship of migraines running in families.
Patients who suffer migraines especially chronic and severe migraines may have associated depression, anxiety, and / or trouble sleeping.
An important aspect of understanding your migraine pattern is to try to identify triggers that can begin or worsen your migraines.
One way to do this is to keep a “migraine diary”
Migraine headaches are often difficult to manage and deal with both for the patient and physician. The careful analysis of the symptoms triggers and careful history of the medications tried and whether they worked or not are often tedious and time-consuming. The patient can help their physician make the best decisions by summarizing medication stride as well as results. In addition keeping a migraine diary or succinct description chronicling the type of headache the severity location the associated symptoms the time of day and the associated activities or external factors which may affect them you can lead to pattern recognition which the doctor and patient can try to modify to lessen the headaches.