It is common to experience some form of headache at some point in life. But migraine is a type of headache that triggers severe throbbing pain or pulsing sensations. About 39 million people in the country experience migraines. The resulting pain is usually felt on one side of the head and may last a few hours or days. Moreover, the intensity of the pain may even affect one’s ability to participate in regular activities.
Causes and triggers
Healthcare experts believe that environmental factors and genetics might play a crucial role in the occurrence of migraines. Other contributing factors include certain changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve. Chemical imbalances in the brain, including serotonin, are also deemed a potential cause of the throbbing condition. Other factors such as stress, bright flashes of light, loud sounds, climatic changes, and certain foods may also trigger migraines and their symptoms. Migraine is also more common in women, especially those experiencing hormonal changes before or during menstrual periods, pregnancy, and menopause.
Symptoms and stages
Migraines can affect individuals of all ages, but their symptoms may differ based on the stage of the condition.
In this stage, one may notice subtle changes that indicate the onset of a migraine. The symptoms include changes in one’s mood, stiffness of the neck, fluid retention, frequent yawning, constipation, and increased urination.
The aura stage may occur before or during migraines. It generally results in visual symptoms, which include vision loss and seeing varied shapes or flashes of light. They begin gradually over several minutes and may last up to 60 minutes. The phase may also result in other symptoms like speaking difficulties and numbness in the face or one side of the body.
In a migraine attack, the symptoms usually last between 4 and 72 hours when left untreated. Some may experience symptoms several times a month, while others may rarely have any signs. A few common symptoms of a migraine attack include pain in one or both sides of the head, throbbing or pulsing pain, nausea and vomiting, and sensitivity to factors like sound, light, touch, and smell.
One may feel confused, drained, and exhausted after a migraine. Furthermore, any sudden movements may trigger head pain again, and this is known as the postdrome stage of a migraine.
The treatments for migraines are intended to stop and prevent recurring symptoms. There are several prescriptions to treat the condition, which fall under two broad categories. These include pain-relieving treatments and preventive prescriptions. One can also try changing their nutrition regime and lifestyle and implement other simple methods to improve their condition.
Choosing appropriate foods
Following a specific meal plan may also help improve one’s condition. One should include magnesium-rich foods such as avocados and dark leafy greens in their daily meals. Moreover, fish like mackerel, seeds, and legumes are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and must be added to one’s nutrition regime. One must also consider ketogenic foods high in fats and low in carbohydrates. Some options include eggs and non-starchy vegetables like artichokes, asparagus, and bean sprouts. All these foods may help ease the symptoms of migraines and even prevent recurrences.
Apart from following a meal plan, one can also try home remedies to ease migraine-induced pains.
- Relaxation techniques like acupuncture, biofeedback, yoga, and meditation are known to alleviate pains caused by the condition.
- Regular aerobic exercise like walking, cycling, or swimming is known to curb stress levels, which may help prevent migraines.
- Drinking plenty of water is another simple method to keep the body hydrated and maintain temperature levels, thus preventing migraines.
- Setting a fixed nutrition and sleep routine is also known to help make one’s lifestyle better and improve how one copes with migraine symptoms.
- Maintaining a diary can help one learn more about migraine triggers. The initiative may also enable healthcare experts to recommend a suitable treatment plan.
- One can try cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a form of psychotherapy. It teaches individuals how their behaviors and thoughts affect their perception of pain. The therapy helps one build confidence in themselves and improve how one tackles migraine symptoms.