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Migraine Headaches: The Basics

 

You stay in bed.  You can’t stand sunlight because the brightness makes the pain unbearable.  The pain, in fact, is so intense that you’re nauseous.  Before the pain got so severe, 

you might have seen an aura, or bright lines or lights in your line of vision.

What are you suffering with? The classic migraine headache.

There’s no doubt about it, the pain of a migraine headache can be so severe and intense that it’s actually disabling.  It’s when the symptoms are this brutal that people seek the refuge of a dark, quiet room where you can lie down without interruption.

Up to 17 percent of women in the United States suffer with migraine headaches.  Six percent of men have experienced a migraine at one time or another.

Twenty years ago, the medical community offered no help for those who experienced these one-of-a-kind headaches.  Today, though, no cure has been discovered, there are treatments that can help not only reduce the frequency of your headaches, but also stop the pain even after it has started. 

How do know if your headache is a migraine or another type, for example a tension or a sinus headache?  In addition to moderate to severe pain which may only affect one side of your head, your classic migraine attack also produces a pulsating or throbbing pain which only gets worse when you try to perform any type of physical activity.

If your pain is bad enough to actually interfere with your daily activities, you’re probably experiencing a migraine headache.  Another indication that your headache is a migraine is the nausea that you feel.  Some individuals will experience vomiting – others won’t – but most everyone affected by these headaches are extremely sensitivity to both light and sound.

If you don’t treat this headache it usually disappears in as little as four hours, but it could also stick around for as long as three days.(Of course, any length of  time suffering with a migraine seems like an eternity!)  Some individuals, thankfully, only develop these painful headaches once or twice a year.  Others, however, aren’t as lucky and come down with these several times within a single month.

Every individual experiences a migraine headache just a little differently from the other.  While most people experience migraines without the much noted auras, there is a minority of people who do experience this unique visual precursor of the pain.  Those who experience no aura are said to have a “common migraine.”  Those who have the symptoms of auras are experiencing the “classic migraine.”

Auras usually appear between 15 to 30 minutes prior to the start of the pain. They may continue even after the onset of your pain.  You can recognize an aura through its sparkling flashes of light, which display themselves as dazzling zigzag lines in the field of your vision.  You may also notice slowly spreading blind spots in your vision.  But the aura affects more than your vision. You may feel a tingling sensation, which can be best described as “pins and needles” in one arm or leg.  In very rare cases, individuals say that the aura also produces speech problems.

If you’ve suffered from quite a few migraines and are sensitive enough, then you may be able to predict the onset of your migraine.  Some individuals say that they have what the medical community calls a prodrome several hours to a day before the headache actually appears.  They can tell that their migraine will occur because they possess a feeling of elation or intense energy, along with an unexplained irritability.  Some individuals say they experience a depression prior to the pain.  Other signs that indicate a migraine may be forming are cravings for sweets, a greater than average thirst and and unexplained drowsiness.

 





Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.

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Greg Cryns
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