Migraine Headache Symptoms and Causes – What Are They?
When describing migraine symptoms and causes, it first helps to understand what is a migraine. A migraine is not just an ordinary headache, as those who suffer from it will know only too well. A migraine headache can be severe and persistent and is accompanied by a wide range of other symptoms.
• Artery Constriction
Migraines are the result of a constriction of the arteries in the brain, which reduces blood flow to the brain. This is followed by dilation or widening of these arteries. Hence the often unique throbbing sensation experienced with a migraine headache.
• Symptoms Can Vary
Migraine symptoms vary greatly from one person to another. About one in every five migraine sufferers will have what is called a classical migraine. Associated with a classical migraine is a visual disturbance known as an aura. This is flashing light in front of the eye preceding a migraine. This can be in conjunction with pins and needles and an altered sense of smell and taste.
Most patients commonly see zigzag patterns of brightly colored lights flashing or even a blind spot in the form of a hole, usually in one eye only. This aura can last from about 10 to 30 minutes. This is usually followed by the headache, but not always as some migraine sufferers only experience the aura. This is known as an ocular migraine.
In most cases the main migraine symptom is a moderate to severe headache. This is usually confined to one side of the head and can alternate from one side to the other. It is often a throbbing or pulsating headache and will get worse with physical activity. Often there is pain behind the eyes, which can be relieved with pain killers or a cold compress.
Women vs. Men
Women are more likely to suffer from migraines than men. This is because of regular hormonal changes. Women can get migraines just before or after their menstrual period.
As well as migraine symptoms of the head, a migraine sufferer may experience a variety of other symptoms. These include:
• the feeling of nausea,
• very cold hands and feet.
• If the patient is having a visual disturbance, feelings of dizziness and disorientation can occur.
One very disturbing migraine symptom is that of temporary paralysis on one side of the body. This is known as a hemipleic migraine and can be very frightening if experienced for the first time. As this can mimic the signs of a stroke it is always important to have these sort of migraine symptoms checked out by your doctor to confirm that it is a migraine.
• Light and Sound Sensitivity
Migraine sufferers are generally very sensitive to light and sound during an attack. This is why it is well known that to lessen the effects and aid recovery, being in a darkened, quiet room is very beneficial.
For some people the early warning signs that a migraine is imminent can be easily missed. Migraine symptoms can occur well in advance of an attack. Feelings of elation or intense energy, cravings for sweets, thirst, drowsiness, irritability or depression, are all early warning migraine symptoms.
• Triggers to Watch For
Migraines can be triggered by a wide variety of causes, such as, certain foods, stress and tension, dehydration, hormonal fluctuations, to name a few. It is important that if you are a migraine sufferer that you try to identify the triggers to your migraine and try to avoid them where possible.
* Keep a Diary
Migraines often go undiagnosed and untreated. If you experience migraine symptoms it is well worth keeping a diary or record of your attacks. Try to find what if anything is the trigger to your migraine attack. Migraines although common can be very disruptive to daily life. There are now numerous treatments available, either home remedies, over-the-counter or from your doctor to help relieve migraine symptoms.
By Margaret Bell