Migraine in simple words is an unbearable pain in one side of the head which is so painful so that you cannot think of anything when you are under it’s attack.
In medical terms it is a neurovascular disorder characterized by pulsatile unilateral headache, which comes in attacks lasting 4–48 hours and is often associated with other symptoms.
There are two major types of migraine:
- Migraine with aura (classical migraine)
- Migraine without aura (common migraine)
Do you know what the term ‘aura’ means? Auras are reversible focal neurological phenomena, which typically precede migraine attacks. It is gradual and lasts for about 1 hour. They are usually visual disturbances such as seeing flashes of lights, zigzag lines, bright spots. Other symptoms include pain and needles sensation in an arm, numbness in one side of the face, hearing noises.
About one-third of people affected with migraine experience aura. Most often, the headache begins without any warning signs and worsens with physical activity.
Signs and symptoms of a Migraine attack
- Recurrent episodes of throbbing, unilateral headache and pain may be moderate to severe in intensity
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light, sound, and smell
- Neck stiffness
- Eye pain
- Fatigue and irritability
- Loose stool
As previously mentioned, Migraine is believed to be a neurovascular disorder where there is vasodilation of dural and extracranial arteries due to the release of neuropeptides like CGRP (Calcitonin gene-related peptide).
Dilatation of the arteriovenous shunt vessels in the carotid artery during a Migraine attack is responsible to divert blood flow away from brain parenchyma and also precipitate headaches. Another theory suggests that there is increased excitability of the cerebral cortex and abnormal control of pain stimulus in the trigeminal nucleus.
Causes of Migraine
There are various triggers for this but the most common are listed below :
- Stress: Constant Stress can trigger a migraine headache. The doctors generally advises peoples suffering from Migraine to not to indulge in any task than involves stress and deep thinking.
- Sensory stimuli: Bright lights and sun glare can induce migraines, as can loud sounds.
- Genetics: We know that many diseases are hereditary diseases which can pass from one generation to others. The medical researchers have found that there is increased risk of developing migraines when first degree relatives have a migraine.
- Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in estrogen level, before or during menstrual periods, pregnancy, and menopause, seem to trigger headaches in many women. It is more common in women than in men.
- Sleep changes: Skipping sleep, getting too much sleep or jet lag can trigger migraines in some people.
- Physical factors: Intense physical exertion might provoke migraines.
- Environmental factors: A change of weather can prompt a migraine.
- Foods and Drinks: Aged cheeses and processed foods; alcohol or intake of high amounts of caffeine might trigger migraines.