Chronic Migraine Treatment
Did you know that migraines are the third most common disease in the world, and are reported to be even more prevalent than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined? This is why knowing about chronic migraine treatment is important. Research has shown that chronic migraines affect approximately 2% of the world’s population.
Migraine refers to a neurological condition that is often characterized by intense, debilitating headaches. A migraine can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head, and is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.
Migraine attacks can last for hours, or even days, and can cause such severe pain that you are unable to carry about your normal, daily life. In this article we will look at options for chronic migraine treatment.
Migraine vs Headache
Yes, migraines differ from headaches. In fact, headaches come as part of the symptoms of migraines and can range in severity and length.
A headache can cause pain in the head, face, or upper neck, while a migraine is an extremely painful primary headache disorder that usually produces symptoms that are more intense and debilitating than headaches. Correctly differentiating headaches from migraines can help lead to faster, more effective treatment.
Symptoms and Stages of Migraines
Migraines may begin in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood. There are also four stages to a migraine: prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome. However, in some cases, individuals will not go through all these stages.
This is like a warning stage for an upcoming migraine that usually shows up one or two days before the onset of the migraine. It includes symptoms like constipation, increased thirst and urination, mood changes (from depression to euphoria), neck stiffness, food cravings, and frequent yawning.
Auras are reversible symptoms of the nervous system that may occur before or during migraines. They're usually visual, but can also include other disturbances. The symptoms usually occur gradually and finally build up over several minutes.
Examples of migraine aura include:
- Visual disorders, such as seeing various shapes or flashes of light
- Weakness or numbness in the face or one side of the body
- Hearing noises
- Uncontrollable jerking or other movements
- Difficulty in speaking
- Vision loss
- Pins and needles sensations in limbs
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If left untreated, migraines can last for up to 72 hours. The rate of occurrence differs from person to person. Some people will get migraines multiple times a month, and others may only experience one or two throughout an entire year.
This stage of a migraine is usually dangerous and comes with symptoms like a throbbing or pulsing pain in the head; sensitivity to light, sound, and sometimes smell and touch; nausea and vomiting.
After a migraine attack, you might feel exhausted and confused for up to a day. Sometimes, sudden head movement may cause the pain to return briefly.
Treatment Options for Chronic Migraines
While there is no cure for migraines, people can use medication and lifestyle changes to treat their symptoms and help prevent future occurrences. When using any type of medication, you should remember to follow the recommended dose of the doctor or manufacturer. Overusing medication may result to a condition known as a medication-overuse headache.
The following treatments have been proven effective in treating migraines:
Tension headaches and mild migraines can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as pain relievers (including acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications-such as aspirin) and melatonin. Doses may vary according to the condition, so you should consult your doctor before starting any medication.
OTC treatments may not be sufficient to treat moderate to severe migraine symptoms. In this case prescription medications such as anti-nausea medicines, triptans and ergot alkaloids are used. You can also make use prescription medication (like anti-seizure medications, antidepressants and Botox injections) to prevent future migraines.
Most people are not aware that some beneficial lifestyle changes can help prevent migraine episodes and some types of headache. These include:
- Regular exercise
- Practicing relaxation through mindful breathing and meditation
- Eliminating trigger foods by making dietary changes
- Learning how to manage stress
- Keeping a migraine or headache journal to track patterns potential triggers
When to See a Doctor
Migraines are often left undiagnosed and untreated, but this can develop into more serious problems. If you notice that you regularly have signs and symptoms of migraines, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss them.
If you begin to experience worse symptoms, such as severe headaches, fever, a stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, or numbness or trouble speaking, seek immediate medical attention. These signs could indicate more serious issues.