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Migraine Headache Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

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Migraine headache definition and facts

  • Migraine headache is a result of specific changes within the brain. It causes severe head pain that is often accompanied by sensitivity to light, sound, or smells.
  • Common symptoms include:
    • Eye pain
    • Sensitivity to light or sound
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Severe pain, usually on one side of the head that some individuals describe as "pounding"
  • Other types of headaches can also cause severe pain, and not all headaches are migraines. For example, some people describe the pain of cluster headaches as the worst pain they have experienced.
  • The exact cause of migraines is not known. Changes in neurotransmitter levels within the brain are thought to play a role.
  • Migraines are diagnosed by the typical clinical signs and symptoms.
  • Migraines can be triggered by many factors, for example:
    • Hormonal changes
    • Stress
    • Strong stimuli like loud noises
    • Certain foods
  • Migraine treatment usually is with over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription drugs.
  • Prescription medications used to relieve the pain of migraine include triptans (a class of drugs), for example:
    • sumatriptan (Imitrex, Alsuma, Imitrex STATdose System, Sumavel DosePro, Zecuity, Treximet)
    • rizatriptan (Maxalt, Maxalt-MLT)
    • eletriptan (Relpax)
    • zolmitriptan (Zomig, Zomig-ZMT)
    • naratriptan Amerge)
    • almotriptan (Axert)
    • frovatriptan (Frova)
  • Lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet and getting exercise may help reduce the frequency of your attacks.
  • Try to avoid any foods that trigger your migraines. It also may reduce the frequency of attacks.
  • Some people find that exercises, for example yoga, promote muscle relaxation are helpful in managing severe pain.
  • Most people with migraines usually are able to manage their condition with a combination of medications and lifestyle changes.
  • Some people may need prescription medications to decrease the frequency of headaches.

What is a migraine headache?

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 usually are associated with sensitivity to sound, light, and smells. Some people have symptoms of nausea or vomiting. This type of headache 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.

Not all headaches represent migraines, and migraine is not the only condition that can cause severe and debilitating headaches. For example, cluster headaches are very severe headaches that affect one side of the head in a recurrent manner (occurring in a "cluster" over time). The pain is sometimes described as "drilling," and can be worse than migraine pain in some cases. Cluster headaches are less common than migraine.

Tension headaches are a more common cause of headache. These occur due to contraction of the muscles of the scalp, face, and neck.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/13/2017

Source: MedicineNet.com
https://www.medicinenet.com/migraine/article.htm

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