A neurological disorder, migraine is characterized by severe headaches that are accompanied by incapacitating symptoms such as sensitivity to light or sound, nausea, and numbness. This condition affects all ages. However, often numerous individuals can suffer from migraines since childhood. Furthermore, as compared to men, women are more likely to suffer from migraines.
Signs and symptoms of a migraine
This condition might progress through four stages i.e., prodrome, aura, headache (attack) and post-drome. However, not all patients will experience all the four stages and its symptoms.
A day before the migraine episode, you might observe some minor changes that serve as a warning sign. These include:
- Neck stiffness
- Cravings for certain types of foods
- Sudden mood swings
- Digestive issues, especially constipation
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Yawning continuously
Typically, most people dealing with migraines don’t experience auras. However, a handful of patients might have to cope with it. An aura might occur before or during a migraine. These are nothing but disturbances that can affect your visual, sensory, motor or speech functions. Some of the common ones are:
- Witnessing flashes of light or bright spots
- Temporarily blacking out
- Difficulty while speaking
- Pins and needles in the face, arms or legs
- Hearing music or noises
- Involuntary jerking or other movements
A headache (attack)
A migraine typically lasts for 4 hours to 3 days without any medical treatment. The following are some of the symptoms that you might experience while having a migraine attack:
- Pain on one or both sides of the head
- Throbbing or pulsating headache
- Amplified sensitivity to light, certain sounds, and smells
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred eyesight
This is the final stage of the migraine attack which might make some people feel completely drained. Conversely, some individuals might strangely experience a state of euphoria. Here are some additional symptoms that follow the attack and might last for one a day or so:
- Mood swings
- Sensitivity to light and sound
A neurologist will inquire your medical and family history, symptoms you are experiencing, and also conduct a physical and neurological exam. They might also recommend some blood tests, imaging tests and other diagnostic procedures to rule out other medical conditions.
Risk factors for migraines
The following factors can magnify the risk of migraines for some individuals:
- If your parents have dealt with migraines, you are likely to develop it too.
- Most people get a migraine during their adolescent years. Moreover, they tend to be more intense and frequent when you are in your 30s.
- Migraines affect boys as compared to girls during childhood. However, during and after adolescence it is increasingly observed in women.
- Migraines might occur before or while a woman is menstruating.
A trigger is something that might stimulate a migraine attack. These vary from person to person. Therefore, it is imperative for one to identify and take proper measures to handle them which can help in minimizing the frequency of migraines.
- Hormonal changes in women, i.e., during pregnancy, menopause or periods. Furthermore, hormone therapies or consumption of oral contraceptives.
- Certain types of foods
- Fasting or skipping meals
- Food additives
- Sensory stimuli like bright lights, loud noises, or strong smells
- High-intensity physical activities
- Changes in climate
- Certain types of medications such as vasodilators or oral contraceptives