More than 38 million people in the U.S experience migraines annually. Counter to common belief, a migraine is more than just a bad headache. It’s an extreme throbbing pain in the head, along with nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise that can occur chronically. Some doctors feel that migraines are a neurological disease and others believe they are a neurological disorder or condition.
Either way, migraines can be excruciating and disabling. For more information about what migraines are and how to stop them, keep reading.
What Causes Migraines?
Experts are still unsure of what exactly causes migraines. In the past, doctors believed that the dilation and constriction of blood vessels in the brain caused migraines. Medications developed for migraines focused primarily on the brain’s blood vessels. Now, more doctors believe that they are a neurological disorder that involves nerve pathways and chemicals. Given the variety of migraines and the varying degrees of irritation and discomfort they create, there are many hypnotized root causes for migraines, and no single one can explain every experience It’s also true that migraines usually run in families, although other environmental factors contribute to their prevalence and occurrence as well.
Just a Bad Headache?
A migraine is not just a bad headache. It’s a compilation of neurological symptoms including relentless throbbing usually on one side of the head. Only about one-third of migraine sufferers experience pain on both sides. A migraine attack can last anywhere from four to seventy-two hours, can occur as infrequently as once in a lifetime to as frequently as multiple times a day, and is often associated with these symptoms:
- Blurry vision
- Seeing colors or lights
- Numbness in extremities or face
- Inability to engage in physical activity
- Extreme sensitivity to sound & light
- Anxiety and changes in personality
Types of Migraines
There are many types of migraines, but there are two main types. There are migraines without aura and migraines with aura. Aura can be described as seeing colors, flashing lights, blind spots, or zigzag patterns.
The most commonly experienced migraine is without aura. This type of migraine sufferer will experience all disabling symptoms except seeing colors or lights.
A migraine with aura includes seeing colors, lights, zigzag patterns, and blind spots, also including the other types of symptoms. Aura symptoms usually occur about an hour before the head pain starts and does not normally last for more than an hour.
Other less common kinds of migraines include:
- Migraines without head pain (characterized by dizziness),
- Hemiplegic migraines (characterized by bodily impairment similar to a stroke),
- Retinal migraines (characterized by temporary loss of vision)
- Ice-pick headaches (characterized by sudden intense, and sharp pain),
- Cervicogenic migraines (caused by neck or spine issues), and
- Cluster migraines (sometimes termed “suicide headaches” due to the extreme pain they can cause)
How to Stop Them
Migraines are very often left untreated and are usually self-diagnosed. An effective way to treat your migraines is to keep a journal of each migraine you get, how long it lasts, and what you did to treat it. This can be helpful for your doctor to determine patterns that will better clarify your triggers and, therefore, the best treatment plan.
The best ways to stop migraines are to avoid triggers (i.e. stress), alcohol, skipped meals, caffeine, and bad sleep habits.
- Anti-seizure medications
- Ice packs
- Relaxation techniques
If you are experiencing a thunderclap headache, a headache with stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, headache after an injury, new headache pain if you’re over 50 years, or headache after moving, coughing, or exercise, immediately visit a clinic or emergency room.
Get Migraine Relief from the UrgentMED Network
Migraines come with disabling symptoms that are incredibly painful, inconvenient, and stressful. Natural remedies can be effective, but if you are still experiencing severe migraines without long-term relief, move on to medical treatment from the UrgentMED Network. With no appointment necessary, visit or contact one of our 18 urgent care centers for migraine treatment and support today.