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Migraine Headache

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What is a migraine?

Although many people use the term "migraine" to describe any severe headache, a migraine headache is the result of specific physiologic changes that occur within the brain and lead to the characteristic pain and associated symptoms of a migraine.

Migraine headaches are usually associated with sensitivity to light, sound, and smells. In addition, many patients experience nausea or vomiting. The headache of a migraine often involves only one side of the head but in some cases, patients may experience pain bilaterally or on both sides. The pain of a migraine is often described as throbbing or pounding and it may be made worse with physical exertion.

In some cases, patients with migraines experience specific warning symptoms, or an aura, prior to the onset of their headache. These warning symptoms can range from flashing lights or a blind spot in one eye to numbness or weakness involving one side of the body. The aura may last for several minutes, and then resolves as the head pain begins or may last until the headache resolves. For patients who have never experienced an aura, the symptoms can be frightening and can mimic the symptoms of a stroke.

What are the risk factors for migraine?

As many as 25% of people may experience a migraine headache at some point in their lives. Most migraine sufferers are female. It is estimated that after adolescence, the ratio of female to male patients who experience migraines is about 3:1. There seems to be a genetic predisposition to migraine, as there is often a strong family history of migraine in patients with this disorder.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/31/2014

Patient Comments

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Migraine - Triggers Question: What are your migraine headache triggers?
Migraine - Symptoms Question: What migraine headache symptoms do you experience?
Migraine - Treatment Question: What kind of treatment do you get for your migraines? Does it help?
Migraine - Relief Question: Do self-care measures give you relief from your migraine headaches? What do you do?
Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/migraine/article.htm

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