Home > Physical Health > Understanding Migraines

Understanding Migraines

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 25 Jan 2011 | comments*Discuss
 
Migraines Headaches Symptoms Traits

A migraine is a very specific type of headache which often begins occurring in the teen years. It has particular symptoms associated with it and tends to affect people who share a number of common traits. Scientists and doctors still don’t understand exactly why migraines happen. Typical migraines last between four and 12 hours. There are ways to prevent migraines, and a couple of ways to treat them. If you believe you experience migraine headaches, don’t hesitate to consult your GP.

Symptoms of Migraine Headaches

People who experience migraines will often come to recognise specific symptoms which warn them of a coming headache or accompany this kind of headache. Most migraine sufferers describe them as throbbing headaches, either on one or both sides of the head. Other symptoms commonly include:
  • Sensitivity to light (often wanting to escape to a dark space).
  • Sensitivity to sound (often seeking a quiet space).
  • Sensitivity to physical activity (even shaking the head can hurt).
  • Nausea and/or vomiting.
  • Prodrome (fatigue, hunger or anxiety before migraines occur).
  • Aura (affected sight, hearing, smell or taste prior to headache).
  • Sensations of tingling, dizziness, numbness or weakness (often in arms or legs).
  • Exhaustion following headache.

Traits of Individuals Affected by Migraines

People who are affected by migraines often share a number of traits. These individuals are often:
  • Women (possibly due to hormonal associations).
  • Relatives of others who experience migraines (possibly due to genetic link).
  • Able to trace their migraines back to childhood or their teen years.
  • Consistently tired and/or under stress.
  • Taking oral contraceptives (hormonal birth control pills).
  • Known to have a neurological condition.
  • Survivors of a head injury.

Preventing Migraine Headaches

Not every migraine sufferer can prevent headaches, but some can. After a while many migraine sufferers are able to determine if there are triggers which bring on their headaches. Common migraine triggers which can be avoided, thus preventing headaches, include:
  • Caffeine (having too much or too little, for example in fizzy drinks).
  • Chocolate (due to chemicals which can affect blood flow in the brain).
  • Food containing tyramine (cheeses, meats, yeast, coffee, bananas, eggs, oranges and more).
  • Foods containing sulfites (particularly preserved foods).
  • Foods containing MSG (a flavour enhancer).
  • Sudden, significant changes in stress levels, sleep patterns, hormones, pain relief medications.

Treating Migraine Headaches

When you suffer from migraines you have two main ways to treat them: abortive medicines and preventative medicines. Abortive medicines are those which you take when you experience a migraine, usually just after experiencing an aura or at the first signs of your headache. These medicines can be over the counter or by prescription. Preventative medicines are those which you take daily in order to keep migraines from occurring. People who take preventative medicines tend to have frequently occurring migraine, little relief from or side effects to abortive medicines, or migraines which include unusual or severe neurological symptoms.

Talking to Your GP About Migraines

If you believe you suffer from migraines, talk to your GP immediately. There is no need to suffer from crippling headaches when you can learn how to prevent them and/or find effective treatments. Always be sure to consult your GP if:
  • Your headache symptoms change, become more frequent or more intense.
  • You begin to experience neurological symptoms like dizziness, numbness or weakness.
  • Your headaches no longer respond to your chosen medication or type of treatment.
  • Your headaches begin to interfere with your life (school, social life, studying, etc).
  • Your headaches are the result of a head injury.
  • You suffer from confusion before or after your headaches.

Migraines affect a great many people and often begin during adolescence. If you suspect you suffer from migraines then recognising the symptoms of them and the traits of people commonly affected by them, understanding how to prevent them, how to treat them and when to talk to your GP about your headaches are all important to taking care of your health.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • mawoo
    Re: How to Deal with Pressure From Parents
    im currently in 11th. ive most of the time scored well in maths and my own dream is accounting. ive gone to a…
    2 April 2020
  • Jt_.ly
    Re: Warning Signs of Self Harming
    Hi, my name is Jas. I’m in 6th grade and I’m 11 years old. Just about 3 weeks ago, I started cutting. I’ve been wanting to do so…
    26 March 2020
  • idk
    Re: Coping With Strict Parents
    I’m 14 my dad is really strict he doesn’t like me going out because he thinks I’ll get raped or assaulted by someone. he doesn’t like…
    23 March 2020
  • Abby
    Re: Coping With Strict Parents
    My parents are way too strict and its so embarrassing the way I get treated like a 10 year old when I am 15.It seems like I forever…
    9 March 2020
  • 1234
    Re: All about Abortion
    Hi I’m 14 nearly 15 and I’m almost a week late , I keep having cramps and very watery discharge with little blood in it I’m starting to think…
    2 March 2020
  • Keelan
    Re: Questionnaire: Are You Addicted to Social Networking Sites?
    Hello, My name is Keelan Spurrell and I am I 3rd year university student. I am currently…
    20 February 2020
  • Migz
    Re: Questionnaire: Are You Addicted to Social Networking Sites?
    Greetings, I am a Grade 10 student, of La Salle Green Hills, who is conducting a research…
    19 February 2020
  • honolulu
    Re: Teenage Pregnancy
    Hey I'm just 12 years old and I'm pregnant, but i don't care what the people say to me because I love my baby and my parents help me. I hope…
    17 February 2020
  • gina
    Re: How Can I Deal With My Over Protective Mum?
    I'm sorry about your dad, I have the same problem, but its my bestest friend. I totally get it, she thinks I'm…
    17 February 2020
  • tommygirl
    Re: Teenage Pregnancy
    Hey guys! I'm 13 years old and I'm pregnant with twins. I don't know what I should do but I'm searching for a baby sitter. Can you help me?
    17 February 2020