Migraine is an incredibly common disorder globally. It is a debilitating illness, and it is important for people to remember that it is not “all in the head”.
Approximately one in seven Australians experience migraine. This is more common than chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, and epilepsy. Despite the numbers, this condition often goes undiagnosed and without treatment in at least 50% of patients.
It is mainly because of the lack of understanding about migraine and their drastic effects on a person’s life. Read on to learn more about this type of headache disorder.
What is Migraine
A migraine is more than a severe headache. It is a neurological disease that can result in debilitating or throbbing pain, leaving the person in bed for several days.
This illness starts with an intense pounding in the forehead, side of the head, and around the eyes. The pain will gradually increase, and exposure to bright lights, loud noises, movements, or activities will only worsen.
Currently, there are over 150 types of headaches, with two categories: primary and secondary.
- A primary headache is when the pain is due to the illness and not because of different medical conditions. They are commonly known as head tensions, migraines, or cluster headaches. The symptoms usually start in the nerves to the blood vessels or in the face and neck muscles.
- A secondary headache may be a symptom of another health condition. It may indicate an underlying illness, such as neck injury or sinus infection.
Signs and Symptoms
The level of pain during a migraine headache can range from mild to intense. The effect is not the same in all people, and in some cases, it can get the way of doing daily tasks.
The common symptoms of migraine include:
- Intense throbbing or dull pain on one side of the head or both.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in vision (including blurred and having blind spots)
- Sensitivity to light, noise, and smell
- Sudden confusion
- Feeling of tiredness
- Tender scalp
- Stiff neck
Health experts estimate that nearly 4.9 million Australian adults suffer from migraine, but women are twice likely to experience them as men.
Causes of Migraine
Several triggers can cause migraines, including:
Many women have noticeable headaches symptoms before and after having their period or while being pregnant or ovulating. It may also tie it to menopause or the use of birth control and hormone replacement therapy.
Under extreme stress, the brain releases a chemical that can bring changes to the blood vessels. This change might lead to a migraine headache.
Particular food and beverages choices can trigger headaches in some people. These include aged or preserved cheese, alcohol, food additives and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
These are the main ingredients in pepperoni, hotdogs, and lunch meats.
Drinking too much coffee can cause headaches (as can drinking less than you normally do in some cases). Although interestingly enough, caffeine can also be used as a treatment for acute migraines.
Changes in the weather
Incidents of storms, changes in the atmosphere, strong winds, and changes in altitude can cause migraine attacks.
Exposure to loud noises (or environment), bright lights, and strong odours can set off a migraine.
Certain medicines can cause rebound headaches, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and sleeping pills.
Change in sleeping pattern
A person might get headaches when getting too much or not enough sleep.
First Aid Treatment
If a person starts experiencing headaches, help them sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Choose an area that is quiet, away from loud noises and bright lights. Use a cold compress and hold it against their head.
Adults are safe to take a dose of pain killers such as paracetamol tablets. For small children, it is best to give them the correct dosage of paracetamol syrup (as per the instructions, or according to your doctor’s advice). Do not give aspirin to anyone under 16 years of age, or anyone with a known history of allergies.
Seek medical help if the person’s condition does not improve or develops into severe and excruciating pain. Look for the warning signs such as high body temperature, vomiting, loss of strength or sensation, and impaired responses. These might be an indication of someone having a stroke.
If the person suffers from a stiff neck or extreme sensitivity to light, he might be suffering from meningitis.
Despite improvements in the medical field, there is still yet to discover a permanent cure for migraines. Although there are several treatments available to help control its symptoms.
It might take time and effort to work out the best treatment suitable for an individual. They may need to try different medicines or treatments before they find the right one for them.
There’s currently no cure for migraines, although several treatments are available to help ease the symptoms. Seek help from a doctor who can help with your next steps.
Learn First Aid to treat mild migraine headaches and other brain injuries and illnesses.