Determining whether you have a migraine and, if so, what type of migraine, can be quite a complex process – really enough to give you a headache!
Though kicking off on a lighter note, those suffering from migraine attacks will attest to the seriousness of the condition and the total debilitating effect that they have on you!
There are two main categories of migraine, with and without aura. The “aura” refers to the symptoms that are present prior to the onset of the classic headache, in brief:
• Migraine with aura (classic) – This means that there are symptoms that occur, leading up to the headache.
• Migraine without aura (common) – this is the type of migraine that has no apparent prior symptoms and start with a bad headache.
What is an Aura?
There are a number of pre-headache symptoms that occur in migraines with aura. These pre-conditions are generally known as an “aura”. Some of the major aura symptoms are:
• Hemiplegic migraine –Presenting symptoms similar to a stroke.
• Retinal or Ocular migraine –Distortion of vision – bright flashes, black spots, temporary deterioration or loss of vision
• Basilar artery migraine –Balance and nausea related sensors such as ringing in the ears, sensitivity to taste smell and touch.
If you have a migraine without aura, there are no predetermining factors?
Not quite, patients often experience fatigue, depression or bouts of anxiety, these are less reliable warnings.
What are the main symptoms?
The classic onset of a serious headache follows.
Pain is generally experienced to one side of the head, but this may intensify, with pain felt on both sides of the head and often behind one eye! The pain is intense and debilitating and goes well beyond the scope of a regular headache!
Nausea and vomiting are common and heightened sensitivity to smell and light are indicative.
Are headaches symptomatic of all migraines?
No, there is a “silent migraine” in which the typical symptoms of a migraine and often the aura phase is present, but without the headache.
What causes migraine attacks?
There are no finite medical conclusions on the subject and the full causes are not known, but research has narrowed down a number of triggers that often lead to the onset of a migraine attack:
• Heightened emotional stress
• Excessive caffeine intake
• Food sensitivity
• Food additives
It is obviously helpful to try and avoid these trigger mechanisms as far as possible in order to manage migraine recurrence, but with the root cause unknown, sufferers are encouraged to rather look for early warning signs and narrow down treatments that best suit their condition.
What treatments are there available?
Over-the-counter pain relieving and anti-nausea drugs are most commonly used, but prescription drugs in chronic cases are often necessary. Regular sufferers may also use pre-emptive medication designed to prevent the onset of pain, when tell-tale signs are first detected.
There is ongoing research into Migraines to discover the cause.