It’s hard to forget those migraines. Ouch! How the head throbs in pain! A classic migraine attack is characterized by an aura (light images) before the pain starts. Such headaches are more severe. However, about 80 percent of migraine headaches are without an aura.
Migraine is nothing but a neurological syndrome. It is marked with changed bodily perception, nausea, and headache. A typical migraine headache may last for 4 hours to as long as 3 days!
Scientists have yet not able to dig out the exact cause of migraine headaches. However, experts are of the view that these headaches occur as a result of dilation of blood vessels and secretion of certain chemicals, which lead to pain and inflammation. These chemicals are normally present in the brain. But, their abnormal amount affects the blood vessels, especially if the vessels are highly sensitive to them. Serotonin and dopamine are among the chemicals secreted.
There are many triggers of migraine headache and each person may have a different one. This means that if your friend gets a headache due to certain food, it doesn’t mean you’d get one too. Your trigger might be something else.
The common triggers of migraine are:
- Missing a meal
- Tension and stress
- Certain foods like nuts, alcohol, chocolate, cheese, and food enhancer such as MSG
- Birth control pills. Usually, women get migraines at the end of their pill cycle. This is because the estrogen from the pill stops and your body experiences estrogen withdrawal syndrome, leading to headaches.
The common migraine attacks that are without aura can be treated at home. Here are 6 ways to tackle this nasty headache:
- Lie in a dark room and try to get some sleep.
- Support your head or neck with pillows while sleeping.
- Avoid stressful situations.
- Place a cold compress on the affected area.
- Drink some coffee. But, take care not to drink too much caffeine, as this is one of the triggers too.
- If you’re bad in tolerating pain, take over-the-counter medicine.
The following are the common headache medications:
- Acetominophen – It can be taken safely with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Although this medicine has a history of stomach bleeding or ulcers, it is usually safe. However, if you suffer from liver problems or take 3 or more alcoholic drinks a day, avoid this medication.
- NSAIDs – These drugs include ibuprofen, aspirin, ketoprofen, and naprozen. The side effects are stomach bleeding and ulcers. If you’ve a history of stomach trouble, avoid these drugs.
- Combination drugs — These include certain over-the-counter approved medicines like Excedrin Migraine. They contain a combination of aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine. You can also make your own combined medication by taking 2 acetaminophen or aspirin tablets with a cup of black coffee.
Remember, it’s best to consult your doctor before taking any medication.
The migraine mystery is yet to be solved. Scientists are busy finding out why a missed meal can cause your head to go bonkers. There are some interesting facts that scientists have dug out during their research:
- Fluctuating levels of hormones and migraine have a relation.
- Prepubescent boys and girls are more prone to this headache, although 75 percent of patients are adult women.
- Migraine headaches are found to vanish during pregnancy.
Till the medical experts come up with an exact cause and treatment for migraine headaches, we may have to continue to bear with the pain. It’s best to treat this headache in a natural way. Close all lights; switch off the TV; and zzzzz… go to sleep!