December 5, 2011

What Is a Migraine Headache?

Health Minute With CASI

A migraine headache is a type of headache that usually occurs one to four times per month These affect women more than men. Migraine seems to run in the family. A migraine headache is often one sided, but can affect both sides. It is often described as throbbing, also steady and non-throbbing.

People with migraines usually have at least two of the following symptoms:

Moderate or severe pain Nausea
One-sided headache Vomiting
Throbbing pulsating pain Sensitivity to both light and sound
Pain that worsens with mild physical activity

Other Symptoms often Associated with Migraine:
Poor appetite Dizziness
Tearing eyes Sleep problems
Diarrhea Sweating
Runny Nose Neck pain
Visual Disturbances Yawning
Speech problems Restlessness
Increased frequency of urination Temporarily elevated blood pressure

If you are a sufferer, it is important to make an appointment with your doctor for the specific purpose of addressing your headaches. It is best to make a diary of the history of your headaches and review this first. Your diary can include: time and duration of headache, pain sensation, symptoms prior to the headache, medication that you took and did it abort the headache or did you take additional medication. What were some of the triggers, such as stress that day, weather changes, bright lights, sounds, scents, odors, sleep patterns? Certain foods you ate or drink you may have had? Do you have visual issues, nausea? Once a diary has been kept (recommended for three months), it is much easier for your physician to prescribe the most beneficial treatment at that time or provide you with a referral to a neurologists. Here in the Quad-Cities, we are lucky enough to have some very qualified specialists, such as Neurology Consultants at Genesis West Medical Pavillion.

If you continue to put off seeing a professional and overuse many of the over the counter medications or barbituates, caffeine, and ergotamine tartrate, you could be causing more problems. Many times this can cause rebound headaches. Typically, people start taking small amounts of medication, then continue to use larger amounts, and before you know it, may be using this method to control the migraine. However, in the long run this may cause more concern. The headaches may become increasingly difficult to control, and you may feel worse rather than better.

What can you do at this point? The simple solution is stop overusing pain killers. This is not that easy. Most patients with analgesic rebound, who have tried to stop overusing pain relievers, have found that their headaches get worse before they get better. The headache will typically become more intense within a matter of hours, and may be at its worst in one to two days. This “worst period” may last for two to three weeks.

If you are already seeing a neurologist, there are other regimens that can be used to assist with migraine prevention. Massage, accupuncture, chiropractic treatment, routine exercise to ease the stress, follow a migraine diet, limit alcohol and stop smoking. For more information, you may contact the National Headache Foundation via the internet. There is also a bi-monthly subscription and newsletter that is available with all the latest information about treatment and other interventions that are being studied.