Migraines Explained

Migraines Explained

Migraine

So many people believe they know what a migraine is and think they suffer from them. It is a bad headache, right? No.

Actually migraine is a “condition”, a debilitating condition that involves excruciating headaches, often includes nausea, can include problems with vision and left arm pain. Many sufferers are sensitive to light and sound and some have difficulty speaking. This goes way beyond normal headaches.

Migraines are more common in women than in men and some believe this is hormone related.

The attacks can come on without any warning or can have an “aura” up to one hour before, and there have been cases where sufferers have lost their jobs due to migraine attacks. Pain levels vary but for many the level is almost unbearable and together with impaired vision, the sufferer is unable to work – often without prior notice. The may not be able to work for 3 days and on their return be unable to function at top level for a few more days. As the average person suffers 1 to 3 attacks a month, that means for one or two weeks every month the patient is unable to work properly, and yet this is not considered a disability by just about every country, so it is up to each individual to search for a new job and keep it!

There are 4 recognized phases of a migraine attack although not every person experiences each phase;

Prodrome

This occurs some hours or a few days before an attack. One indication is becoming clumsy, a craving for chocolate is another, yawning and feeling sleepy or tired, tight muscles can also be a sign. The problem is most of there are normal characteristics and can be explained away.

Aura

Only a small percentage of suffers have the aura phase. It is characterized by visual disorders, such as flashing lights, bright spots, waves of light – anything up to and including blindness in one eye (luckily only lasting during the attack). The flashes are generally white or black and can be like looking around in the dark where you cab see a shape, but it is not well defined, also cloudy vision may occur.

Vertigo and pins and needles which might get progressively worse are some more signs. The Aura phase usually happens around 1 hour before an attack, acting as a warning.

Pain

The pain is normally concentrated on one sided, but may move or be on both sides. The level of pain varies from person to person but normally goes from medium to strong pain and lasts 4 – 72 hours. The pain is usually accompanied by nausea but this lessens with age.

Postdrome

Many have impaired thinking for a few days and may have weakness. Feelings range from feeling “hungover” or  “flu-ish” to, for a lucky few, feeling “refreshed”.

The causes are still unknown, which does not help the millions of people who suffer from this condition. What triggers migraines is unknown, but may be stress, hormones, hunger and a few other factors.

Cure, is not really a cure but is only to control the symptoms, a pill for pain and another for nausea. Lying in a dark, silent room without moving is best and sleep cures all.

 As research has no answers, each individual should take notes of what their life included a few days before an attack to see if a pattern emerges, they can then try to avoid this “trigger”.

Written by jillou

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