In times of a recession, working adults are under great amounts of stress. A 2010 study reported that financial problems are the number one cause of stress for people that provide for their family. Health problems like ulcers, insomnia and migraine headaches can result from this increased tension. Everyone has experienced headaches in their lives, but migraines are a completely different animal. This article summarizes the causes, symptoms, and treatments of migraine headaches.
What Are Migraine Headaches?
Migraine headaches are commonly characterized by moderate to intense throbbing or pounding in a specific area of the head and may entail moderate to severe pain. Migraines are related to the contraction and enlargement of blood vessels in the brain. When blood vessels contract and enlarge, certain chemicals that cause inflammation and pain are released.
Migraine attacks may take three to four days to subside and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and abdominal pains. It also causes extreme sensitivity to environmental stimuli such as light, noise, and odors. Blind spots, flashes of light, and skin tingling may precede a migraine attack. In many people who suffer from migraine, attacks often occur one to four times in a month.
Studies show that more women than men suffer from migraines and that the net effect of migraines on human productivity is substantial.
People who suffer from migraine attacks have usually experienced similar but milder conditions during their childhood or adolescence. In children, migraine symptoms include pale skin, fever, dizziness, blurred vision, and abdominal pains.
The progression of migraine attacks commonly goes through four stages, but not all patients go through all the stages. Prior to the migraine attack, some patients may experience prodrome and aura. Prodrome may involve any one or more of the following: stiffness in the neck, constipation, irritability or depression, hyperactivity, diarrhea, and intense craving for food. Meanwhile, auras refer to physiological disturbances that may be sensory, verbal, or motor. Auras usually last from ten to thirty minutes. Examples of these disturbances include seeing flashes of light, tingling sensations in the arm or leg, speech and language problems, and weakness in the limbs.
When either one of the two preceding stages have occurred, the migraine attack itself usually follows. Some migraine attacks last up to four days. Migraine attacks may be characterized by moderate to severe headaches, sensitivity to light, sounds, smell, blurred vision, and diarrhea.
After the attack, the stage known as postdrome occurs. In some people the postdrome stage is a period wherein they feel excessively drained. In others, the postdrome stage is characterized by mild euphoria.
The factors that actually cause migraines are yet to be identified but are certainly associated with the contractions and enlargement of the blood vessels in the brain area. Brain abnormalities that induce migraine attacks were found to be hereditary. Causes can also include food allergy, yeast or fungal infection, and stress.
Certain medications are prescribed to control the frequency and severity of migraines. In general the appropriate medication combined with healthy lifestyle changes effectively reduces the effects of migraines.
In general, migraine medications may be pain-relieving or preventive. Pain relieving medications are those that are taken during the migraine attack in order to reduce the severity of migraine effects such as headaches. On the other hand, preventive medications are those that are taken regularly to reduce the frequency or seriousness of migraine attacks.