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Controlling Migraine Headaches (Part 1)

Controlling Migraine Headaches (Part 1)

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Q: I have been diagnosed with migraine (headaches) years ago. I have had a CT scan and MRI and nothing abnormal was found in my head. I have been prescribed all types of medicines, but nothing seems to work satisfactorily, I still get a severe migraine twice a month. They are worst with my periods. What do you suggest?

Overview Of Migraine Headaches

A: Migraine headaches are one of the more common recurrent headache subtypes. Often such headaches start in the teenage years or early adulthood. Women are 2-3 times more likely to be affected than men. They generally last between 4 to 72 hours. Can be one-sided or generalized. The sufferer often reports that the headaches are:

  • Moderate to severe in intensity
  • Throbbing or “pounding” in nature
  • Made worse by (bright) light and (loud) noise
  • Associated with nausea and or vomiting
  • Often aggravated by light physical activity – e.g. walking, climbing of stairs, etc..

According to the International Headache Society, anyone who has had such a headache on five or more occasions most likely has migraine headaches. However, it is imperative for the managing doctor to rule out other types of primary headaches such as tension and cluster headaches. In most instances, a thorough clinic history can differentiate between these headache entities.

The frequency of migraine headaches reported by a migraine sufferer can vary from one to two per year to 4-8 per month.

While the specific cause of migraine headaches is still unknown, however, it is suspected that it is closely linked to an abnormality in the brain’s electrical activity which ultimately affects the brain’s neuronal signals, neurotransmitters, and blood supply. The sufferer’s genetics seems to play an integral role in triggering such headaches.

It should be noted that some migraine sufferers experienced an aura before experiencing their headache. In most instances such symptoms are visual in nature and can start up to an hour before the onset of headache but disappear by the start of the headache.

Aura related visual symptoms may include:

  • Seeing flashes of light
  • Seeing zig zag lines
  • Blind spots
  • Temporary blindness
  • Shimmering stars
  • Tunnel vision

Possible aura related non-visual symptoms:

  • Slurred speech
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Numbness in the face or in a limb on one side of the body
  • Heaviness in the arms and or legs
  • Change in smell, taste, or touch

Separate and apart from the aura, up to 60% of migraine sufferers experience prodromal symptoms; whereby they may notice one or more of the following hours to days prior to the onset of their headaches.

  • Increased sensitivity to light, sounds and or smells
  • An unexplained change in mood
  • Craving lots of fluids and or certain foods
  • A loss of appetite
  • Being extremely fatigued
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Change in bowel habits

The silver lining of being a migraine sufferer who experiences auras and or prodromal symptoms, it permits the sufferer to be preemptive in the treatment of their headaches allowing for more satisfactory pain control as it relates to their migraines.

Controlling Migraine Headaches (Part 2 – Next Friday)

Author: Dr. C. Malcolm Grant – Family Physician, c/o Family Care Clinic, Arnos Vale, www.familycaresvg.com, [email protected], 1(784)570-9300 (Office), 1(784)455-0376 (WhatsApp)

Disclaimer: The information provided in the above article is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you are seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Dr. C. Malcolm Grant, Family Care Clinic or The Searchlight Newspaper or their associates, respectively, are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information provided above.

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