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Migraine, More than “just a headache”

Migraine, More than “just a headache”

Migraine is a complex condition with a wide variety of symptoms.

For many people the main feature is a painful headache. Other symptoms include :

  • Disturbed vision,
  •  Sensitivity to light, sound and smells,
  • Feeling sick and vomiting.
  • Migraine attacks can be very frightening and may result in you having to lie still for several hours.

The symptoms will vary from person to person and individuals may have different symptoms during different attacks. Your attacks may differ in length and frequency. Migraine attacks usually last from 4 to 72 hours and most people are free from symptoms between attacks. Migraine can have an enormous impact on your work, family and social lives.

Headache is pain in any region of the head. Headaches may occur on one or both sides of the head, be isolated to a certain location, radiate across the head from one point, or have a viselike quality.

A headache may appear as a sharp pain, a throbbing sensation or a dull ache. Headaches can develop gradually or suddenly, and may last from less than an hour to several days.

Unlike most other headaches, migraines usually strike on one side of your head. But they don’t always stay still. The pain can move from side to side. Most people describe the pain as throbbing or pounding.

Migraines can start any time of day, or they can wake you up in the middle of the night. They can last 4 hours or longer. A really bad migraine can last as long as a week

Some foods that have a natural chemical called tyramine may trigger a migraine. Watch out for aged cheese, processed meats, and fermented foods like soy sauce and sauerkraut. There’s no “migraine diet,” but after a while you’ll know if certain foods trigger headaches for you. It might help to avoid things with caffeine, chocolate, MSG, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and meat with nitrites.

About 3 of every 4 people who get migraines are women. In fact, the only time migraines are more common in guys is when they’re young — before puberty hits.

Migraine pain typically starts out as a dull ache. It can take an hour or 2 to build into a full-blown headache. Some people can feel an oncoming migraine a day or 2 before it starts.

Other warning symptoms include sensitivity to light, sound, and smells, as well as mood changes. Because most migraine medicines work best when taken early, it’s a good idea to take medicine as soon as you feel a headache coming on.

Your doctor might prescribe daily preventive medicine if:

  • You get two or more migraines a month.
  • Your attacks last more than 24 hours.
  • Your headaches disrupt your lifestyle for days at a time.
  • You usually use migraine treatment medicine more than twice a week.
  • The medicine you use to treat migraine attacks doesn’t work.After a migraine, you may feel drained, like you’re in a fog, or fatigued. You might be nauseated and have muscle tension.


Everyone has different migraine triggers. Some common ones are:


  • This is the final phase of the migraine, called the “migraine hangover” or postdrome. It can last a day or 2 past the original headache.
  • There are different kinds of daily preventive medicines, so ask your doctor about your options. Many of these drugs also treat high blood pressure, seizures, and depression. 
  • Strong smells, like perfumes and detergents
  • Hormonal changes (menstruation, pregnancy, and ovulation)
  • Bright or fluorescent lights
  • Stress or fatigue
  • Too much or too little sleep
  • Some medications, like birth control pills
  • Weather changes
  • Cold triggers like ice cream
  • Certain foodsSometimes, over-the-counter medicines that ease tension headaches can help migraines. But migraine drugs don’t usually relieve other kinds of headaches.Got migraines? There’s a good chance you can blame your family. About 4 out of 5 people with migraines have a relative who gets them, too. If one of your parents has them, you have a 50% chance of getting them. If both parents have them, you have a 75% chance.


  • For most people, migraines peak between 35 and 40, then taper off and weaken after that. This may not be the case if you’re a woman going through perimenopause. If hormones are a trigger, you could have more headaches during this time.


Pascale IHCB


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