Most people suffer from an occasional headache. They might take a couple of aspirin and a nap, and then be fine. But migraine sufferers face a very different situation.
Migraines are a specific type of headache that affects millions of people, mostly women. These headaches are severe and chronic, often occurring several times a month, and can last for days. People who suffer from migraines will often have nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound during their headaches. Some people also experience warning signs hours or days before a headache begins. These can include auras, cravings, drowsiness and more.
Scientists don’t yet know what causes migraines, though genetics and environmental causes are both suspected to play a role. However, several common migraine triggers have been identified. These include stress; hormonal changes; certain foods such as red wine, chocolate and processed foods; changes in sleep habits; and some medications.
People who have migraines can do a lot to help manage their symptoms. An important first step is keeping a headache diary. In the diary keep track of when you have migraines, their severity, any associated symptoms, warning signs, and any potential triggers. This diary will help you and your doctor better understand your particular migraines so you can avoid your triggers and get the appropriate treatment.
There are a variety of medications currently available to help treat migraines. They fall into two groups- pain relieving medications you take when you have a headache, and preventive medications that you take regularly to keep migraines at bay. Pain relieving prescriptions and over-the-counter medications work best if you take them as soon as the headache starts. Few migraine sufferers take preventive medications, though doctors believe many more people could benefit from these prescriptions. While they usually don’t end migraines completely, they can reduce the severity and frequency of the attacks. If you get two or more serious migraines a month, you should discuss preventive medications with your physician.
While the cause of migraines remains a medical mystery, there is a lot migraine suffers can do to manage their condition.