What Are Migraines?
Migraines are intense
headaches that can cause painful throbbing or pulsing on one or both sides of
the head. These headaches often make you more sensitive to light and sound, and
can cause nausea and vomiting. They can cause puffy eyelids, hives, and other
What Are the Symptoms of a Migraine?
to 20 percent of people experience
“auras,” or a cluster of neurological symptoms, before a migraine occurs. Auras
- seeing visions
of flashing lights or crossing lines
- blind spots
- a brief loss of
vision in one or both eyes
- strange smells
- feelings of
numbness or “pins and needles”
Auras may last up to an hour
and go away once a migraine begins.
Women are three
times more likely to get migraines
than men. Most people with migraines experience their first during their
childhood or teenage years.
Doctors aren’t completely
sure why migraines occur. Most experts now think that genetics may play a role
in why some people get migraines and others do not.
Migraines can occur
randomly, but in many cases are triggered by changes in a person’s environment,
- changes in
hormone levels, especially in women
- salty or
- food additives,
such as aspartame and monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- skipping meals
- alcoholic or
highly caffeinated beverages
- strong lights,
sounds, and smells
- changes in sleep
- intense physical
- changes in
weather or air pressure
medications, such as oral contraceptives and vasodilators
Migraines cannot be cured,
but certain medications and lifestyle changes can help decrease the frequency
and intensity of migraine headaches. People with migraines have several choices
as to where to find treatment. Read on to learn more about your options:
How Are Migraines Treated?
When it comes to finding the
appropriate treatment for your migraines, you should start by seeing your
primary care physician. The type or types of specialists your doctor will
recommend depends on your condition.
A neurologist is most likely
the first type of specialist your doctor will recommend you to see.
Neurologists are specially trained in treating headaches, including migraines.
However, your doctor may also recommend you see:
- an ophthalmologist if you experience temporary blindness
during your migraine auras
- a psychologist
or psychiatrist if your physician believe your migraines are triggered mostly
otolaryngologist, or “ear, nose, and throat” (ENT) specialist, if you
experience sinus symptoms during your migraines
- an allergist if
you experience allergy-like symptoms during your migraines
pain-management specialist to help treat the pain associated with your
Migraine clinics are another
option. At these clinics you will have access to most if not all of the
specialists listed above. Your doctor will likely recommend that you visit one
of these clinics if your migraines are very severe.
What Is the Outlook for People Who Have Migraines?
There are many different
triggers that can cause migraines. It may take some time before you and your
doctor are able to figure out what your triggers are. Be patient and keep a
headache journal. This will help you and your doctor figure out what your
triggers are and create an appropriate treatment plan.