Headache is simply an unpleasant pain in the head that can cause pressure and ache. The pain can range from mild to severe and they usually occur both sides of the head. Some specific areas where headaches can occur include the temples, back of the neck and the forehead.
A headache can last anywhere from 20 minutes to weeks. Migraine headache is a type of intense or severe and often have other symptoms in addition to head pain.
Types of headache include;
- Tension headache,
- cluster headache,
- Sinus headaches,
- Chiari headaches,
- Thunderclap headaches.
Some of the symptoms associated with migraine headache are pain behind one eye or ear, pain in the temples, nausea, seeing spots or flashing lights, sensitivity to light and or sound, vomiting, temporary vision loss.
When compared with other headache types, migraine headache pain can be moderate and then severe. Some people may experience headaches so severe that they have to seek care in an emergency room. Migraine headaches majorly affect only one side of the head. However, it is also possible to have a migraine that affects both sides of the head.
Other differences include the pain`s quality because mostly only a migraine headache will cause intense pain that may be throbbing and will make performing daily tasks very difficult.
Migraine headaches are generally divided into 2 categories which are;
Migraine with aura and migraine without aura.
An “aura“ is simply a sensation a person experiences before they migrate to a migraine.
The sensations typically occur anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes before an attack. An aura can be a feeling less mentally alert or having trouble thinking or feeling tingling or numbness in the face or hands, seeing flashing lights or unusual lines, having an unusual sense of smell, touch or taste.
Some people have this experience a day or two before the actual migraine occurs.
This is known as the prodrome phase, these subtler signs can include:
- Unusual food cravings
- Frequent yawning
- Neck stiffness
Do you know that some foods can trigger migraines, and these foods vary from person to person, but some individuals may not have any food-related migraine triggers.
Some of the foods that commonly trigger migraines are:
- Smoked Fish
- Cured Meats
- Aged cheeses
- Yeast extract
- Alcohol (particularly red wine or beer)
- Some food preservatives, such as MSG, nitrates, nitrites or artificial sweeteners
Being hungry for long can also lead to an increased incidence of migraines but for some people not eating enough triggers migraine too. This may be due to a link between low blood sugar levels in the system and worsening migraine.
Researchers have identified 5 (five) main trigger categories for migraine headaches and they include:
- Change of environment. Changes in atmospheric pressure, storms or even the season may trigger migraines.
- Different food types. A mixture of some kinds of foods or chemicals like those listed above can easily trigger a migraine.
- Body hormones. Changes in your body hormone levels that occur due to the menstrual cycle or some hormonal changes during pregnancy can trigger migraines.
- Sensory stimulation. Certain smells, smoke, Bright lights, excessive and repetitive noises can all trigger migraine headache in some people.
- Stress. This is a major cause for migraines. Intensive exercise, unusual sleep habits, illness, and worries are the main causes.
Note that, many times a combination of migraine triggers is what leads to a migraine headache.
Migraine Headache Treatments
Prevention is often the best treatment for migraines. Some of these preventive methods include:
- Making changes to your diet, such as eliminating substances or type of foods known to cause headaches, like alcohol and caffeine, etc.
- Taking prescription medications, such as blood pressure lowering medicines, antiepileptic medications, antidepressants or CGRP antagonists
- Taking steps to reduce stress.
Medications for Migraine Headache
People who have migraine headaches less frequently may benefit from taking medications known to reduce migraine headache quickly.
Examples of these medicines area. anti-nausea medicines, such as chlorpromazine (Thorazine), prochlorperazine (Compazine) or promethazine (Phenergan).
b. mild to moderate pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium.
c. triptans, such as almotriptan (Axert), sumatriptan (Alsuma, Imitrex, and Zecuity) or rizatriptan (Maxalt).
Taking migraine headache medications more than 10 days a month could cause an effect known as rebound headaches. This practice will worsen headaches instead of getting rid of them or helping you feel better.
Generally, a headache of any type can range from being a mild inconvenience to being debilitating and severe. Identifying and treating headaches as early as possible can help you engage in preventive treatments to reduce the chance of another headache. Distinguishing migraine headaches from other types of headaches can be tricky. Therefore pay particular attention to the time before the headache starts for signs of an aura and visit a doctor immediately.