Migraine is a neurological syndrome, i.e., a set of symptoms that include headache or headache.
Phases of migraine
According to neurology experts, migraine is not only a headache, but in some patients symptoms may also appear before the pain, such as visual symptoms (loss of vision) or sensory symptoms (tingling around the mouth).
Minutes later the pain starts, which may be accompanied by a feeling of instability and blurred vision. The association of photophobia (excessive sensitivity to light), sonophobia (sensitivity to sounds), olorophobia (sensitivity to odors), etc. is very characteristic. There may also be excessive sensitivity to touch in the head, as well as a marked lack of appetite.
It is very common that during the headache the patient suffers general malaise with nausea and, sometimes, vomiting. Head movements or physical exercise contribute to increase the headache or discomfort during a migraine attack.
If left untreated, the pain can last between four hours and even several days, although it will always respect the night’s rest. After the migraine pain, the patient may feel very tired with drowsiness or, on the contrary, hyperactive.
How to differentiate migraine from headache
Headache should not be confused with migraine. Headache is a symptom of migraine, but not all headaches will be the result of migraines and a neurologist will have to make the correct diagnosis.
How many people suffer from migraine and why?
Migraine is very common in the population, a large part of men and women in our society suffer from it. The age of onset is around menarche (first menstruation) in women and around 20 in men. It is very rare for it to start after the age of 40.
The cause of migraine is genetic. The parents and relatives of the great majority of people who suffer from this pathology also suffer from it. Although the cause is genetic, there are other factors that will trigger it, such as sex hormone levels (migraine is more frequent during menstruation), stress, noisy or bright environments, weather changes,…
What is the pain that causes migraine?
The characteristic headache of migraine is usually of hemicranial localization, that is to say, on one side or the other of the head. It can also be in the form of a “ribbon” around the head, behind the eyes… In children it is characteristic that it is located on the forehead.
Very often the pain is throbbing, as if the head were throbbing and very intense. On many occasions, this prevents the sufferer from carrying out his/her usual activities.
When is migraine considered to be chronic?
Migraine usually occurs one to two days a month, but if it occurs between five and ten days a month, it is called high frequency migraine. If the migraine occurs more than 15 days a month, for six months in a row, we can consider the migraine to be chronic.
Chronic migraine can occur when it is not treated properly. The abuse of painkillers is very common in these patients, which makes any treatment less effective and makes the headache more chronic.
Tips to avoid chronic migraine
To avoid this situation it is very important that the person suffering from migraine has an adequate treatment for the attacks and another to prevent them. It is better to take daily preventive treatments than to take painkillers every day that attacks occur, improving the quality of life of migraine sufferers.
In prevention, it is necessary to avoid triggering factors. Stress is a difficult thing to avoid but you can exercise frequently to regulate attacks. It is also advisable to eat five small meals a day to avoid the hypoglycemia of fasting. Initially, no food should be avoided unless the migraine sufferer associates it with the headache. Some patients trigger the pain by eating chocolate or cured cheeses, sausages, nuts, alcohol or citrus fruits, among others.
An adequate night’s rest is very important, since lack of sleep or too much sleep can cause headache pain among migraine sufferers.
Treatments for migraine pain relief
Migraine treatment should focus on treating attacks when they occur and preventing them. In the treatment of attacks, it is not necessary to wait for them to pass, since it is more difficult to control the pain afterwards. When the headache starts, it is necessary to take the treatment prescribed by the neurologist for migraine attacks. The treatment should be individualized since it will depend on the patient’s age, lifestyle, concomitant diseases… The most commonly used are triptans, anti-inflammatory drugs, paracetamol and Nolotil. Neurologists advise associating the intake of these treatments with an energy drink. Resting in a quiet place with a pleasant temperature will also improve the migraine attack.
If the frequency of migraines is very high or each attack lasts several days, it is advisable to take a preventive treatment. This must be personalized for each patient and must be prescribed by a neurologist.
In case of chronic migraine resistant to preventive treatment, botulinum toxin injection can be used in various points of the skull, which should also be applied by an expert neurologist. It is a treatment with few side effects and well tolerated.
Can migraine be completely eliminated?
Migraine is a genetic disease and, as such, there is currently no cure. However, the frequency of its onset can be controlled and the headache and accompanying symptoms can be relieved quickly when they occur.
There are currently treatments for migraine attacks and preventive treatments that allow the sufferer not to alter their normal activity when the attack appears and make them less frequent.