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Headaches and migraines can vary drastically depending on their duration, specific symptoms and the person they are affecting. The more you know about your specific type of headache or migraine, the better prepared you will be to treat them—and possibly even prevent them. The two types of migraine are-
- Migraine without aura: The majority of migraine sufferers have Migraine without Aura.
- Migraine with aura: Migraine with Aura refers to a range of neurological disturbances that occur before the headache begins, usually lasting about 20-60 minutes.
Symptoms of migraine vary and also depend on the type of migraine. A migraine has four stages: prodrome, aura, headache and postdrome. But it is not necessary that all the migraine sufferers experience all the four stages.
Prodrome: The signs of this begin to appear a day or two days before the headache starts. The signs include depression, constipation, food cravings, irritability, uncontrollable yawning, neck stiffness and hyperactivity.
Migraine Aura: Auras are a range of symptoms of the central nervous system. These might occur much before or during the migraine, but most people get a migraine without an aura. Auras usually begin gradually and increase in intensity. They last for an hour or even longer and are
- Visual: Seeing bright spots, various shapes, experiencing vision loss, and flashes of light
- Sensory: Present in the form of touch sensations like feeling of pins and needles in the arms and legs
- Motor: Usually related with the movement problems like the limb weakness
- Verbal: It is related with the speech problems
Headache: In case of a migraine attack one might experience:
- Pain on both sides or one side of the head
- Pain is throbbing in nature
- Vomiting and nausea
- Sensitivity to smells, sound and light
- Vision is blurred
- Fainting and lightheadedness
Postdrome: This is the final phase of the migraine. During this phase one might feel fatigued, though some people feel euphoric.
Red flags that the patient may be having underlying serious disorder not migraine
- Onset of headaches >50 years
- Thunderclap headache - subarachnoid haemorrhage
- Neurological symptoms or signs
- Immunosuppression or malignancy
- Red eye and haloes around lights - acute angle closure glaucoma
- Worsening symptoms
- Symptoms of temporal arteritis
These patients require CT scan / MRI or CSF examination. Most Migraine patients do not need these tests.
Diagnosis of Migraine: Usually migraines go undiagnosed and thus are untreated. In case you experience the symptoms regularly then talk to the doctor, who evaluates the symptoms and can start a treatment. You can also be referred to a neurologist who is trained to treat the migraines and other conditions. During the appointment the neurologist usually asks about the family history of headaches and migraines along with your symptoms and medical history.
The doctor might advise for some tests like:
- Blood Tests: These reveal problems with the blood vessel like an infection in the spinal cord and brain.
- CT scan: Used to diagnose the infections, tumors, brain damage, and bleeding that cause the migraines.
- MRI: This helps to diagnose the tumors bleeding infections, neurological conditions, and strokes.
- Lumbar Puncture: For analyzing infections and neurological damages. In lumbar puncture a thin needle is inserted between the two vertebrae to remove a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid for analysis.
Migraine treatments can help stop symptoms and prevent future attacks.
Many medications have been designed to treat migraines. Some drugs often used to treat other conditions also may help relieve or prevent 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 on a daily basis, to reduce the severity or frequency of migraines.
Your treatment strategy depends on the frequency and severity of your headaches, the degree of disability your headaches cause, and your other medical conditions.
Some medications aren't recommended if you're pregnant or breast-feeding. Some medications aren't given to children. Your doctor can help find the right medication for you.