We all get headaches. That aching neck pain and throbbing temples, making it nearly impossible to concentrate. But are you having a migraine? How do you know?
Migraine headaches seem to be caused in part by changes in the level of a chemical made in the brain called serotonin, which plays many roles in the body and has an effect on blood vessels. When the serotonin levels are high, blood vessels constrict and when the levels are low, the vessels dilate, which can cause pain. Many things can affect serotonin level in the body including diet and level of blood sugars, as well as changes in estrogen levels for women.
The pain of a migraine can be intense and can get in the way of daily activities. Migraines affect people differently and some folks may have a feeling of when a migraine is coming on. This may be in the way of intense energy, fatigue, food cravings, or mood changes.
The most widely experienced migraines are 1) classic and 2) common migraines. Classic migraines start with a warning signal called an aura. This often involves changes in vision. Patients may see flashing lights, colors, temporary loss of some vision, such as side vision. Other signals include strange burning sensation or muscle weakness, depression, irritability and restlessness. Common migraines don’t typically start with an aura, they start more slowly, last longer and are more likely to interfere with daily activities.
Symptoms of migraines include:
- Intense throbbing or dull aching pain on one or both sides of the head
- Pain worsens with physical activity
- Nausea or vomiting
- Changes in vision
- Feeling cold or hot
- Stiff or tender neck
- Tender scalp
- Light headed-ness
- Stopped up nose
Things that can set off a migraine include:
- Strong or unusual odors, bright lights or loud noises (This could include smoking or fumes)
- Changes in weather or altitude
- Feeling tired or depressed, including changes in sleeping habits
- Missing meals or fasting
- Menstrual periods, birth control pills or hormonal changes
- Intense physical activity
- Some foods
There are two types of medications that help relieve migraine pain. One type focuses on relieving the headache pain, and this type of treatment is typically started on the onset of a migraine. Other types of medications are used to prevent headaches before they occur. Non prescription medication can also be used to help relieve the pain. Talk to your doctor about which medicine is best for you. Non prescription and prescription medicines that are used often or in large doses may cause other problems.
To prevent migraines try to avoid foods or other things that seem to cause migraines. Keep a journal to help identify the triggers. Get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of fluids, get regular exercise.
If you are experiencing painful headaches, possibly migraines, give us a call – (757) 488-3333. Help is on the way!
~ Dr. Abdelshaheed