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The exact cause of migraine is not well established until now. Both genetic and environmental factors are responsible for migraines. Your chances of having the disorder are more if you have a family member who suffers from migraine.
Two possible theories have been proposed at the disease level, one involving the blood vessels and the other involving the nerves. There are different chemicals called neurotransmitters in your brain, which affect your blood vessels, causing them to constrict (become narrow) or dilate (become wider), which causes pain. Some other chemicals work on the nerves causing alterations in their functions, affecting the blood vessels ultimately causing pain. One vital neurotransmitter is serotonin that is especially important in causing headaches. A class of medicines used to abolish migraine headache, called Triptans, exert their effects by blocking receptor (gate) for serotonin.
Migraine is classified into different types based on the clinical symptoms. You may not have all the symptoms, and you might be suffering from one type or the other.
Migraine headaches are a widespread problem worldwide, but they are more prevalent in white Americans as compared to African Americans and Asians. They are more common in females than in males.
Having these characteristics makes you more susceptible to migraine;
Apart from these risk factors, some things can act as triggers to initiate the pain, which may be;
The signs and symptoms are described as follows:
Prodrome: Some people might feel the following symptoms hours to days before actually having the headache. They might not be the same for everyone but are usually fixed for the person who experiences them.
Aura: they may or may not precede the headache and may even occur without a headache.
Pain: The pain of migraine has the following characteristics;
Postdrome: After the headache, you may feel;
The diagnosis of migraine is usually clinical. The headache has to be typical, as described above in the symptoms.
To rule out other neurological disorders, your doctor may advise you to undergo a few tests like ESR, CRP (blood tests), or CT or MRI scan of the brain.
Some other disorders can mimic the presentation of migraine headaches, which should be considered while diagnosing. They are;
While having an episode, you should seek a quiet place with low lights and less noise. Two groups of medicines are given for the treatment of migraine. Abortive drugs that aim to stop the headache and prophylactic drugs whose function is to prevent future episodes.
Abortive Medicines: They include;
Prophylactic Medicines: Your doctor may prescribe you these if you have more than two attacks per month, each lasting for more than a day, compelling you to use an excessive amount of abortive medicines and putting you at risk of developing chronic migraine due to analgesic overuse. They include;
Migraine is a chronic condition. It may be remitted wholly or partially in some people, while others may continue to have it for life. Usually, the intensity and recurrence of episodes diminish as a person ages. In some people, headaches affect their quality of life. In some research studies, migraine is also linked with ischemic brain strokes.
People are usually aware of the typical triggers of their headaches. By maintaining a daily routine and avoiding those triggers, they can prevent an attack.
Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on April 30th, 2023.
Migraine is a common neurological disorder in which throbbing headaches of varying intensity occur on one side of the head, which may or may not be preceded by Aura. These episodes are recurrent, lasting 12 – 72 hours, and are provoked by stressors like insufficient sleep, hunger, sunlight exposure, hormonal changes, stress, etc. The migraine headache might be severe enough to hamper daily routine and is usually associated with nausea, vomiting, photophobia (increased sensitivity to light), phonophobia (increased sensitivity to sounds). It is more common in females and tends to run in families. Migraine headaches are treated with abortive medicines (pain killers), and prophylactic medication prevents future episodes.