You may have experienced migraines yourself or know someone that does.  They are not a fun experience, that’s for sure!

June is Migraine and Headache awareness month so I want to tell you a bit about migraines in case you aren’t familiar.

Migraines are a type of recurring headache disorder that can cause severe throbbing or pulsating pain, typically on one side of the head. They are often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and sometimes visual disturbances.

The exact cause of migraines is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors. Migraines are thought to result from abnormal brain activity that affects the nerves and blood vessels in the brain.

3 things you should know about migraines are:

  1. Migraines can be triggered by various factors, which can vary from person to person. Common triggers include stress, certain foods (such as aged cheese, chocolate, and processed meats), caffeine, alcohol, hormonal changes in women, changes in sleep patterns, bright lights, strong smells, and environmental factors.
  2. Migraines typically have four phases – prodrome, aura (not everyone experiences this phase), headache, and postdrome. The prodrome phase can occur hours or days before a migraine and may involve subtle changes like mood swings or food cravings. The aura phase involves neurological symptoms like visual disturbances (flashing lights, blind spots), tingling sensations, or difficulty speaking. The headache phase is characterized by intense pain, while the postdrome phase is a period of exhaustion and recovery.
  3. Migraines can significantly impact a person’s daily life. The pain can be debilitating, making it difficult to carry out normal activities such as work, school, or socializing. Migraines may also lead to missed work or school days, affecting productivity and quality of life.

There is no cure for migraines, but you can get them under control as much as possible. Sometimes you can help yourself holistically with lifestyle changes like stress management, regular sleep patterns, and dietary modifications. Even going this route though, migraines can still come up from time to time and you may need to see a doctor to help you feel better.

If you must get help medically there are treatments available to manage the symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. Treatment options include over-the-counter pain relievers (such as ibuprofen), prescription medications, triptans (specific migraine medications), anti-nausea drugs, preventive medications.

If someone is experiencing frequent or severe headaches that interfere with their daily life, it is important to consult a healthcare professional. They will be able to diagnose migraines, rule out other underlying conditions, and develop an appropriate treatment plan.