One of the most common afflictions you might be suffering from is “A headache”. Avoid being stoic and consult your doctor if the pain persists.
Do you know 90-95% people suffer from a severe migraine during their lifetime? A recurrent headache that is 2-3times more common in women than in men can begin at any age but mostly occurs during adolescence. Derived from a Greek word, “Hemikranios”, migraine tends to recur with varying frequency throughout life. The attacks tend to get milder and less frequent in later years but not always. There is a family history of migraines seen in most patients. More than 90% patients report that they have an impaired ability to function during migraine attacks and 50% complain of disability, requiring bed rest.
Dr Sanjay Saxena says, the WHO has declared migraine to be among the most disabling medical conditions experienced across the world.
Know different phases of A migraine!
- Prodromal period of 12-36 hours, consisting of vague premonitory symptoms like excessive yawning, excitation, lethargy or depression, craving or distaste for food etc.
- Aura is a warning or signal of onset of an attack of a migraine, in which you feel shimmery or zig zag lights. This session may last for about 30 minutes.
- The actual headache starts, which is usually unilateral and felt with throbbing or hammering character and symptoms like nausea, vomiting, disliking for sound, smell or sound. This can get worse in case you are involved in any physical activities and the pain may last from 4 hours to 72 hours.
- After a headache subsides, you will be in the postdrome or resolution phase that comes with a feeling of fatigue or exhaustion. However, several patients may not get an aura or premonition of a migraine, which is called as a migraine without the aura or a common migraine.
Which factors can trigger your headache?
- Late hours, excess sleep, fasting and menstrual cycle can precipitate a migraine.
- Many women can also experience a migraine around their menses (Menstrual Migraine)
- Environmental factors like sun exposure, bright light, hot or cold climate, alcoholic beverages, dietary components like chocolate cheese, Tyrosine-containing edibles and Chinese foods.
- Most important of all is the day to day mental and physical stress that can worsen a migraine. Anxiety, fear, anger, depression can also worsen a migraine.
The exact cause of a migraine is not known, though probable changes occurring in the brain during an attack has been identified as a neurovascular hypothesis. You can do several lifestyle modifications and practice relaxation techniques, despite that the pain may not subside. You might have to take drugs for instant relief.
The perception prevailing in social circles that a migraine does not have any treatment is a myth. In fact, not taking proper treatment may lead to complications like the daily occurrence of headaches, called chronic migraine; epileptic fits; brain infarction / ischemic stroke; behavioural changes like depression, aggression, memory and attention deficits etc.
So, migraine should not be ignored, as the deprivation of treatment may not only have an adverse effect on the quality of life but may lead to major complications as well.