There are four ingredients in true leadership: brains, soul, heart and good nerves. – Klaus Schwab

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What is a Migraine?

A migraine is a medical condition. It’s a neurological disorder that overwhelms the brain, causing intense headaches. While throbbing headaches, especially on one side of the head, is a main symptom of migraines - other signs include nausea and sensitivity to sound & light. Doctors have yet to find the exact cause of migraines. The condition is often passed down generations, and occurs when there’s unusual brain activity.

People who experience regular migraines will find that intense situations can trigger them. Anything from loud noise and bright light to excessive caffeine, a bad night’s sleep, and certain medication can cause migraines.

Types of Migraines

Those who don’t experience migraines tend to think they are “bad headaches”. While migraines can feel like that, they’re a more complex condition. Even if you do have migraines, you may experience a certain type of migraine. Here are the 11 main types of migraines that people experience.

  • Migraine with Aura: Migraines with aura cause a ringing in the ears, loss of balance, sensitivity to bright light, and vision issues. They can also cause speech issues, changes in how you feel temperature, and nausea.
  • Ocular Migraine: As the name suggests, ocular migraines affect the eyes. This type of migraine is rare and causes the temporary loss of sight in one eye.
  • Silent Migraine: This type of migraine is called “silent” because it doesn’t cause pain. It does cause other migraine symptoms like vision issues, hearing issues, stomach issues & nausea, tiredness, and sore or stiff muscles.
  • Hemiplegic Migraine: This type of migraine is both rare and serious. Its intense symptoms include a throbbing headache, muscle numbness, a tingly feeling in the muscles, balance issues, nausea, and communication problems.
  • Vestibular Migraine: This type of migraine primarily affects your balance. If you have a medical history of experiencing migraines, vestibular migraines will cause balance issues, a lack of confidence on your feet, and confusion. You may also experience other symptoms like sensitivity and nausea.
  • Menstrual Migraine: This type of migraine is caused by a hormonal change. It can be triggered by a natural hormonal change or medication like birth control or hormone replacement therapy. Menstrual migraines cause nausea, sensitivity to your environment, and severe pain on one side of your head.
  • Abdominal Migraine: This type of migraine doesn’t affect the head, it affects the stomach and the abdominal area instead. Signs of an abdominal migraine include nausea, appetite loss, tiredness, and a flushed complexion.
  • Basilar Migraines: This type of migraine is also called Migraine With Brainstem Aura. Basilar migraines cause vision issues, speech issues, balance issues a tingling sensation in the muscles, confusion, nausea, and sensitivity.
  • Chronic Migraines: This type of migraine is a long-term condition affecting adults of all ages. Those with chronic migraines experience them for at least half a month. They experience the usual migraine symptoms, and are prescribed specific medication to bring timely relief and comfort. 

When to see a doctor for migraines?

If you are experiencing a migraine for the first time, it can feel scary. Migraines often come with severe symptoms, and the best way to manage them is by taking prescribed medication and resting until you feel better. However, it’s important to know when your symptoms need medical attention. If your migraine symptoms feel more intense than usual and last for longer than usual - more than four hours of pain or more than 72 hours of symptoms - speak to your doctor to seek quick and effective treatment.

Causes of Migraines

The core cause of migraines is yet to be discovered. Current research suggests that stress is a major cause of migraines. This condition occurs when your brain is feeling overwhelmed or if there’s a temporary chemical imbalance. Migraines tend to be genetic, which means you are more likely to have them if it runs in your family. Migraines can also be triggered by other causes.

Risk Factors For Migraines

Migraines affect several people, although it’s a condition that not everyone experiences. Unlike headaches, which everyone experiences at some point in their lives, these risk factors put you at a greater risk of having migraines:

  • Stress: High levels of stress can put your brain under severe pressure, triggering a migraine. A stressful lifestyle also tends to come with irregular eating schedules, too much caffeine, and a poor sleep pattern. All these factors put you at an even greater risk of experiencing frequent migraines.
  • Tobacco: Excessive smoking can cause regular migraines.
  • Gender: Women are more likely to experience migraines than men. The condition can affect young adults from the age of 15 to women in their 50s. This happens because migraines are also caused by hormonal changes.

Migraine Complications

Pain medication can trigger a certain type of migraine - Medication-Overuse Headaches. It’s common for pain medication to have caffeine in it, and excessive use of caffeine in combination with other chemicals can cause intense headaches. Overusing pain medication can also lead to addiction.

Migraine Treatment

Not everyone’s migraine journey is the same. Even if you have the same type of migraine as someone else, your symptoms may be stronger or milder than theirs. This is why it’s always important to consult your doctor for treatment.

  • Treatment for Migraines with Aura: This type of migraine is treated with pain relievers, anti-nausea medication, and prescribed nasal sprays or tablets.
  • Treatment for Ocular Migraines: This type of migraine affects vision and balance. It is normally treated with epilepsy medication, specific antidepressants, blood pressure medication, and CGRP inhibitors.
  • Treatment for Silent Migraines: Silent migraines are treated with a mix of medication, depending on what is right for you. It is also recommended to avoid environments and lifestyle habits that trigger silent migraines.
  • Treatment for Hemiplegic Migraines: This type of migraine is managed with blood pressure medication, anticonvulsants, and Botox among others.
  • Treatment for Vestibular Migraines: This type of migraine is treated with triptans, blood pressure medication, and anti-seizure medication among others.
  • Treatment for Menstrual Migraines: This type of migraine is treated with a combination of pain medication, blood pressure medication, anticonvulsants, hormone management medication, and anticonvulsants among others.
  • Treatment for Abdominal Migraines: This type of stomach migraine is treated with anti-nausea medication, triptans, and pain medication.
  • Treatment for Basilar Migraines: This type of migraine can be treated with a variety of medications including pain relievers, anti-seizure medication, blood pressure medication, antidepressants, triptans, and anti-nausea medication.
  • Treatment for Chronic Migraines. This type of migraine may require a daily course of medication. Patients with chronic migraines are prescribed pain relievers, triptans, Botox, and anti-nausea medication among others.

Migraine Prevention

Here are some ways you can prevent regular migraines:

  • Keep a Migraine Journal: In this journal, write down the date of your most recent migraine. Other points to include are the symptoms you experienced before your most recent migraine, the medication you took to relieve it, and when the migraine went away after you took the medication. This will help predict & take pre-planned steps before your next migraine occurs.
  • Migraine Medication: It’s important to avoid self-diagnosing your condition. There are several types of migraines, and each condition requires a specific type of medication. If you have just started experiencing migraines, consult a doctor so they can get you started on a course of prescribed medication.
  • Lifestyle Habits: If you find that you experience migraines after too many drinks or cigarettes, consider making lifestyle changes. Similarly, if your stressful lifestyle has lead to more migraines than usual, try to make some time to do relaxing things you enjoy. You can also look into acupuncture.
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