Migraine has also been referred to as a neurovascular headache due to the fact that one aspect of migraine development involves changes in the chemistry and diameter of the blood vessels that provides blood to the brain and the nerves in the neck and head.
What causes migraines?
Researchers believe that migraine has a genetic cause. There are also a number of factors that can trigger a migraine. These factors vary from person to person, and they include
- Hormonal changes in women
- Bright or flashing lights
- Loud noises
- Strong smells
- Too much or not enough sleep
- Sudden changes in weather or environment
- Overexertion (too much physical activity)
- Caffeine or caffeine withdrawal
- Skipped meals
- Medication overuse (taking medicine for migraines too often)
Some people have found that certain foods or ingredients can trigger headaches, especially when they are combined with other triggers. These foods and ingredients include
- Aged cheeses
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Some fruits and nuts
- Fermented or pickled goods
- Cured or processed meats
How does migraine occur?
Migraine Risk factors
Several factors make you more prone to having migraines, including:
- Family history. If you have a family member with migraines, then you have a good chance of developing them too.
- Age. Migraines can begin at any age, though the first often occurs during adolescence. Migraines tend to peak during your 30s, and gradually become less severe and less frequent in the following decades.
- Sex. Women are three times more likely to have migraines.
- Hormonal changes. For women who have migraines, headaches might begin just before or shortly after onset of menstruation. They might also change during pregnancy or menopause. Migraines generally improve after menopause.
The common belief is that the sequence of occurrence of the migraine headache pains is as follows:
1 . First the blood vessels surrounding the brain becomes dilated and starting pressing on the adjacent nerves. It is still a mystery though on exactly how and why these blood vessels dilate although it seems that there is some form of chemical signal that is activating the pain sensors in the trigeminal nerve that runs from a location near the skull center, up and over the eyes and then towards the forehead.
2 . These stimulated nerve fibers then release fragments of proteins, known as neuropeptides, which cause the swelling and inflammation of the blood vessels.
3. The expansion of the blood vessels irritates the trigeminal nerve further, like a vicious cycle, resulting in the migraine headache pain.
Symptoms of migraine
A migraine attack typically goes through four distinct phases where the migraine sufferers will encounter certain migraine symptoms for each phase.
General symptoms experienced in the prodrome phase, also known as the preheadache phase, includes irritability, increased yawning, fatigue, mood swings and food cravings.
About 15% of migraine sufferers can experience an aura before the development of the migraine headache. Symptoms experienced are weakness or numbness on one side of the body, visual disturbances such as seeing blind spots and flashing lights, slurred speech and sensitivity to sound and light.
The migraine headache phase can usually last between 4 to 72 hours and is considered to be the most scary and painful phase. The symptom encountered is a throbbing headache where in about 60% of the cases, the headache occurs on only one side of the head. Other associated symptoms experienced includes diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, lightheadedness and tinnitus.
The postdrome phase is when the pain and other associated symptoms have resolved and most of the time the migraine sufferer just feel like wanting to be left alone. Common symptoms encountered in this phase are surge in energy, increased appetite, euphoria, fatigue and confusion.
Not all migraine sufferers will go through all the four phases though. An example is a person who is suffering from migraine without aura, will completely skip the aura phase during the migraine attack. It is important that we understand what is migraine and the symptoms of migraine indepth so that we can differentiate it from other types of headaches and be able to seek appropriate treatment.
Though migraine causes aren’t fully understood, genetics and environmental factors appear to play a role.
Changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway, might be involved. So might imbalances in brain chemicals — including serotonin, which helps regulate pain in your nervous system.
Researchers are studying the role of serotonin in migraines. Other neurotransmitters play a role in the pain of migraine, including calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).
What is the best medicine for migraine?
Fioricet is the best medicine for migraine and almost 80% patient likes to treat migraine using fioricet.