People dread migraine attacks because excruciating pain and discomfort of severe headaches can render them disabled. Attacks can last for hours or even days and are extremely painful.

What Causes It?

Scientists have yet to discover the actual cause of a migraine. Triggers and causes are different for each individual. Some of the most causes of a migraine include:

  • Consumption of salty foods
  • Skipping meals
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Preservatives and sweeteners
  • Sensory stimulation
  • Hormonal changes
  • Hormone medications
  • Other medications
  • Stress
  • Physical stress
  • Sleep cycle changes
  • Weather changes

Risk Factors

A few crucial risk factors for a chronic migraine include overuse of migraine medication, depression, ineffective treatment and stressful life events. There are also other risk factors that trigger a migraine, such as female hormonal imbalance and others.

Symptoms

Migraines usually begin in early adolescence or childhood. They generally go through four stages listed below. However, not everyone goes through all four stages.

Prodrome

People who suffer from a migraine begin to notice changes that suggest the onset of an attack. These may include mood changes, constipation, neck stiffness and food cravings.

Aura

Auras trigger visual disturbances, such as zigzag or wavy vision and the muscles tend to become weak.

The symptoms of aura range from seeing different shapes to flashes of lights. These include:

  • Vision loss
  • Tingling sensation in legs or arms
  • Hearing music or noise
  • Uncontrollable jerking

Headache

A headache generally goes on from four hours to three days, when left untreated. The intensity and frequency of headaches vary for each individual. Although migraines can be rare, they are capable of striking several times a month. The frequency with which headaches occur varies. People may experience these uncomfortable symptoms during a migraine attack.

  • A throbbing headache
  • Sensitivity to smell, touch, sounds, and light
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Disturbed vision
  • Dizziness

Post-drome

This is the last stage of a migraine attack and is termed as postdrome. This arrives post a migraine attack. Sufferers feel washed out and drained whereas some individuals feel euphoric. There are other symptoms, such as confusion, dizziness, and sensitivity to light and sound.

Treatment

Treating the underlying cause of a migraine headache can result in an improvement in the condition. In some cases, dehydration or malnutrition can cause a migraine and address those issues will result in a headache going away. If you have a chronic migraine, you might receive injections or image-guided treatments.

Other treatments include the following prescription drugs:

  • NSAIDs
  • Muscle Relaxers
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants
  • Neuroleptics\
  • General Pain Medications
  • Opioids

When to See a Doctor

Migraines are usually left untreated and undiagnosed. But when their occurrence becomes frequent, contact a doctor immediately. People, who experience painful signs of migraine attacks, should maintain a history of their attacks and triggers before making an appointment with your doctor to discuss treatment options. Even if you have a history of headaches, see your doctor if the pattern changes or your headaches suddenly feel different. Anyone who has a long history of headaches must seek a good doctor. You should also let your doctor know if you experience changes in your headaches.

Preparing for an Appointment

As appointments are brief and you might want to discuss several issues with your doctor, make sure you have noted all important points that you need to discuss. Prepare all important and relevant questions you need to ask the doctor about your condition and possible treatments.