Migraines are a very personal issue for me, as I have suffered from them since I was a teenager. At their best, if I catch the migraine attack early enough and take some very strong painkillers, I will just have a very bed headache. If I don’t I am probably going to have to write the rest of the day off and even tomorrow too.
My symptoms can be anything from sensitivity to light, so I have to lie down in a darkened room, I can either feel very hot or very cold, I can’t move without being in agony, and they can also make me physically sick. After the attack has gone, and I am no longer in pain, I am exhausted. I feel so wiped out that it can take me a couple of days to feel back to “normal”. Thankfully, I don’t have migraine attacks that often now, but it did get me thinking about them and what causes them.
So what are the symptoms of a Migraine?
A migraine attack and the symptoms vary in different people, and are usually more common in women. The pain is usually felt on one side of the head. They sometimes start as a dull headache and slowly progress worse. Some of the symptoms of a migraine attack are;
- Sensitivity to light – this is a common symptom of a migraine attack, and most people want to lie in dark room.
- Sensitivity to noise – any loud noises can make your migraine feel ten times worse.
- Feeling sick – the pain can be so intense it makes you feel really nauseous.
- Being physically sick – The pain is so bad it actually makes you vomit.
- Dizziness – Most people have to lie down when they are in the grip of a migraine attack, as it can make you feel dizzy and off balance.
- Feeling hot or cold – Or both, it can help to have a cool compress on your forehead, and for some people a warm compress to the back of then neck also helps ease symptoms.
- Visual issues – some people may see flashes or patterns.
Please always see a doctor if you are concerned with any of these symptoms.
The triggers of a migraine attack are varied. It can be anything from a cup of coffee, stress and bright lights. Of course emotional triggers like depression, stress, tension and anxiety may seem obvious. But certain foods can also trigger migraine attacks. A lots of people tend to steer clear of caffeine, but certain foods can trigger an attack, like cheese. Also missing meals and dehydration are among the triggers. A woman’s menstrual cycle can also cause a migraine attack! As if we don’t have enough to deal with.
If you suffer from migraines fairly often, I find that it helps to keep a diary of what you did that day, what you had to eat and drink, make a note of any medications you are taking, the dates of your menstrual cycle. This will help you find out what could possibly be causing your migraine attacks. Is it something you are eating, or are you drinking too much tea or coffee. It is hard to know when a migraine attack is going to strike, but keeping a diary might help you see a pattern. It’s definitely worth trying. Even a change in your sleep pattern could cause a migraine attack.
There isn’t an actual test you can have to diagnose migraines. But doctors usually go off your symptoms, asking questions, family history and rule other things out before confirming migraines. There is also no cure for them. You just have to deal with the symptoms when they happen.
Types of migraine
Then there are many different kinds of migraine, from the common migraine to a migraine with aura.
These are just a few of the types of migraine;
- Common migraine – This is the most typical migraine that most people suffer from. This migraine will make you sensitive to light & noise, you can feel and even be sick, and have the unbearable throbbing headache.
- Migraine with Aura – You will probably get all the symptoms of a Common migraine along with issues with your vision. This can include flashes, spots, blind spots, tunnel vision, stars or sparkles. You can feel dizzy, and even your hearing and your speech can be affected.
- Chronic migraine – All of the symptoms of the Common migraine, but with a lot more frequency, it’s defined as having more than 15 headache days per month and more than 8 are graminaceous.
- Menstrual migraine – Usually occurs 2 days up to the start of your period, and the first 3 days of your period. It has been linked to a drop on oestrogen. This is one to keep track of with your diary.
- Optical Migraine – Or an eye migraine, can cause temporary vision problems, blind spots, flashes and partial sight loss.
There are other sub-types of migraine but these are the one most people suffer from, with varying degrees of pain. Most migraines are debilitating. So what can you do to treat them?
Most people will reach for the extra strong painkillers and go to bed with the curtains closed for the day, and just wait for it to be over. Sadly there is no cure for migraines, but if yours are severe enough you doctor may prescribe you medication called Triptan, which is a painkiller specifically for migraines. A beta- blocker called Propranolol may also be prescribed as a preventative treatment. But always make sure to seek medical advice if you are or think you are suffering from Migraines.
To try and keep migraines at bay, try to get a good nights sleep, keep well hydrated. Reduce stress and learn some relaxation techniques. Do try and keep a journal or diary, it really does help when your trying to figure out what is causing your migraines, you will struggle to remember what you have for lunch or a snack a few days ago, and it’s good to look back to see what you consumed if you though you were starting with a migraine, what had you eaten a day or two beforehand.
If you suffer from migraines you really do have my sympathies, they can be hideous, debilitating things, and can impact your life badly if you get them frequently enough. I hope this article has helped any sufferers and hopefully one day there might be a cure to stop them completely, I can only live in hope.