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Migraines are a neurological condition that leads to recurring headaches that may be accompanied by additional symptoms like nausea, dizziness and sensitivity to light and sound. Sometimes migraines can occur without headaches. A migraine differs from a regular headache and knowing the difference can aid in getting better help that can help with the pain more effectively. Some ways in which migraines differ from headaches are:

• A headache usually occurs on both sides of the head, including areas like the forehead, temples and back of the neck. A migraine, on the other hand, typically affects one side of the head (though it is possible for it to affect both sides).

• A headache causes a mild, dull pressure, while a migraine has been described as an intense, pulsing, and throbbing pain.

• Headaches do not usually have additional symptoms. Migraines are often accompanied by additional symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, or seeing flashing lights or blind spots.

Certain risk factors make a person more susceptible to migraines. For instance, women are three times more likely to get migraines than men. People generally start suffering from migraine headaches between ages 10-40. Another factor that can increase the risk of migraine is genetics. If one parent has a history of migraine, their child has a 50% chance of getting them, and it goes up to 75% if both parents suffer from migraines. Some medical conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, and sleep disorders can increase the risk of migraine headaches.

The pain of a migraine headache can begin as a dull ache that develops into a throbbing pain, which gets worse with physical activity. Most migraines last about 4 hours. The frequency of headaches can vary from person to person- it can range from 2-4 migraine headaches per month to maybe once or twice a year. Some people have headaches daily.

Some people might experience additional symptoms before the migraine headache. This stage can have symptoms like anxiety, mood changes, increased thirst, tiredness, food cravings, and neck stiffness and pain.

Migraine headaches can occur with additional symptoms such as:

• Sensitivity to light, noise and odours.

• Nausea and vomiting, stomach upset, abdominal pain.

• Loss of appetite.

• Feeling very warm (sweating) or cold (chills).

• Pale colour (pallor).

• Feeling tired.

• Dizziness.

• Blurred vision.

• Tender scalp.

• Diarrhoea (rare).

• Fever (rare).

Migraine headaches can be triggered by a variety of factors. An important part of treating migraines is to figure out what the trigger is. Some of the common triggers that can set off a migraine headache involve:

• Stress- This is one of the most common triggers that set off a migraine. The pain can be made worse with emotions like anxiety, excitement or worry.

• Hormones- For women, migraines are often related to their hormones. Symptoms of migraine have been observed to happen alongside the estrogen fluctuations such as before or during menstrual periods, pregnancy and menopause, hormonal medications, such as oral contraceptives, and hormone replacement therapy.

• Sleep- Changes in sleep pattern, such as too much sleep, too little sleep, or jet lag, can trigger migraines for some people.

• Food- Skipping meals can trigger migraines. Certain foods like aged cheese, salty and processed foods, drinks like alcohol, and food additives like sweeteners and preservatives like monosodium glutamate (MSG), can also be the trigger for some people.

• Sensory stimuli- Strong sensory input such as bright lights, strong smells, and loud noise can trigger migraines in some people.

If you think you suffer from migraine, the first step would be to get a consultation from a neurologist, who can diagnose you and get you started on the medication. Treatment of migraine aims to stop the symptoms and prevent future attacks. Alongside medication, lifestyle changes can help in managing the situation. A healthy diet, exercise, and adequate hydration can help. When symptoms of migraine start, go to a quiet, darkened room and close your eyes and rest. Reducing stimuli like this help manage the pain.

Migraines often cause debilitating pain that messes up your daily life. Head over to Naseem al Rabeeh and get a consultation now to get started on tackling this pain.

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