What is a migraine?
Migraine is one of the most common types of primary headaches. The term “primary pain” means that it is an independent disease, and it is associated with impaired brain function. Some people with migraines take this medication: https://pillintrip.com/medicine/apireks.
A migraine attack can last from 4 hours to 3 days. The pain may be so unbearable that it prevents one from performing either work or daily activities – any activity increases the suffering.
These attacks are often triggered by a provoking factor (triggers). 90% of people with migraine know at least one “trigger” of their own migraine. Most frequently, this is physical or emotional stress (77%) and fluctuations in hormones associated with the menstrual cycle in women (72%). Taking oral contraceptives can cause seizures. Sometimes seizures are provoked by trauma to the head or neck.
In a separate category of migraine provocateurs should be allocated external factors:
loud noises and bright lights;
substances with a pungent odor: perfume, paints, household chemicals, etc;
Excessive consumption of products containing caffeine;
Improper irrational nutrition and skipping of basic meals;
Mismatch between a person’s circadian rhythm and the natural circadian rhythm, frequent changes of time zones during air travel (jet lag).
How to understand that you have a migraine?
Migraine symptoms are easy to describe. Typical migraine headache is unilateral, often in the frontotemporal region of the head, intense, pulsating, intensified by changes in body position, physical exertion. The pain is accompanied by hypersensitivity to bright light and loud sounds. Nausea, vomiting, fever or, on the contrary, chills may occur at the height of the pain.
However, some attacks may be moderate in intensity, covering the entire head, or sometimes occur without pain at all as a migraine aura.
What is a migraine aura?
It is a specific neurological disturbance that precedes a migraine attack. The aura is described by about a quarter of migraine sufferers.
Visual disturbances are the most typical manifestations of aura. These can be visual “special effects”, when iridescent spots, stripes, glowing zigzags flicker before the patient’s eyes, or areas of the visual fields fall out.
Auras in the form of a tingling sensation and numbness in the hands and face are possible.
Less commonly, patients experience disturbances in hearing, smell, taste, and coordination.
These sensations may vary in brightness, but always go away within a few minutes to an hour.
What is a menstrual migraine?
In women, migraine is often related to the menstrual cycle. These attacks occur two days before menstruation or within three days of menstruation in at least two out of three cycles. This is how menstrual migraine is described in the III International Classification of Headaches. In “pure” menstrual migraine, the attacks occur at the beginning of menstruation, and no other days of the cycle. In menstrual-associated migraine, attacks can occur on any day of the cycle.
What causes migraines?
For a long time it was thought that migraine was related to the vessels that feed the brain and other structures of the head. It was believed that the aura is caused by spasm of the cerebral arteries, and the pulsating pain is caused by compensatory vasodilation.
It is now precisely known that migraine is based on the hyperexcitability of the brain’s nerve cells (neurons). It is not known precisely how it occurs, but heredity plays an important role. If both parents suffer from migraine, it is very likely that the disease will affect the child. During a pain attack, excitation from the affected brain cells spreads to neighboring neurons, and then the pathological pain impulses spread to larger parts of the brain, including those responsible for pain sensation. Thus, an attack of pain occurs. Various provoking factors can influence neuronal hyperexcitability: certain foodstuffs (some kinds of cheese, wine, coffee), physical and emotional stress, disorders of sleep and wakefulness rhythm or insufficient sleep, changes of hormonal background during menstrual cycle in women.