CEN Migraine Headache OverviewA migraine can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. It's often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities. For some people, a warning symptom known as an aura occurs before or with the headache. An aura can include visual disturbances, such as flashes of light or blind spots, or other disturbances, such as tingling on one side of the face or in an arm or leg and difficulty speaking. Medications can help prevent some migraines and make them less painful. The right medicines, combined with self-help remedies and lifestyle changes, might help.
CEN Migraine Headache - Signs and SymptomsMigraines, which often begin in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood, can progress through four stages: prodrome, aura, attack and post-drome. Not everyone who has migraines goes through all stages.
CEN Migraine Headache - CausesThough migraine causes aren't fully understood, genetics and environmental factors appear to play a role. Changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway, might be involved. So might imbalances in brain chemicals — including serotonin, which helps regulate pain in your nervous system. Researchers are studying the role of serotonin in migraines. Other neurotransmitters play a role in the pain of migraine, including calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).
CEN Migraine Headache - Risk FactorsSeveral factors make you more prone to having migraines, including:
- Family history. If you have a family member with migraines, then you have a good chance of developing them too.
- Age. Migraines can begin at any age, though the first often occurs during adolescence. Migraines tend to peak during your 30s, and gradually become less severe and less frequent in the following decades.
- Sex. Women are three times more likely to have migraines.
- Hormonal changes. For women who have migraines, headaches might begin just before or shortly after onset of menstruation. They might also change during pregnancy or menopause. Migraines generally improve after menopause.
CEN Migraine Headache - ComplicationsTaking combination painkillers, such as Excedrin Migraine for more than 10 days a month for three months or in higher doses can trigger serious medication-overuse headaches. The same is true if you take aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) for more than 15 days a month or triptans, sumatriptan (Imitrex, Tosymra) or rizatriptan (Maxalt), for more than nine days a month. Medication-overuse headaches occur when medications stop relieving pain and begin to cause headaches. You then use more pain medication, which continues the cycle.
CEN Migraine Headache - TreatmentMigraine treatment is aimed at stopping symptoms and preventing future attacks. Many medications have been designed to treat migraines. Medications used to combat migraines fall into two broad categories:
- Pain-relieving medications. Also known as acute or abortive treatment, these types of drugs are taken during migraine attacks and are designed to stop symptoms.
- Preventive medications. These types of drugs are taken regularly, often daily, to reduce the severity or frequency of migraines.
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