Some people casually use the word migraine to mean a severe headache, but a migraine is not a headache. A headache is a symptom of a migraine, but like I often do, the headache can be dull or even non-existent during a migraine. Today i was excited that I was going to finally follow through on visiting my friend, M, but sadly that did not happen. Why? Because of a migraine. It wasn’t head pain that stopped me however. It was sheer fatigue. In fact, I’m even struggling to keep my mind focused enough to write this blog post.
So what is a migraine – a migraine is a neurological event that is often marked by a one-sided headache. Migraines often cause sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines have a few phases; the first one being aura. During this phase many people experience visual disturbances. When I get this either I see floating patches of color – often green. I may also see rainbows in the corners of my eyes. However, there are other symptoms that people get as an aura – such a temporary paralysis. Auras usually last less than an hour and then 93% of people get headaches.
It is more common to not get a visual aura. These precursors to a migraine can be extreme fatigue (the one I get most often), mood changes (I have occasionally gotten very angry before a migraine) brain fog (another I often get…I will mess up the names of people I know fairly well i.e. students). These symptoms can last a long time and if you have chronic migraines like I do you walk around permanently confused, pissed and tired. Lucky me 🙂 Even luckier S.
There are several types of migraines as well. Some cause temporary paralysis (and because of this get confused with strokes). Some migraines are so bad that they require hospitalization. And as I’ve mentioned there are migraines that cause no headache like mine.
There are certain triggers for migraines as well. These include – hunger, alcohol, MSG, caffeine, nitrates, menstruation, too little sleep, too much sleep, stress, glaring lights, loud sounds, strong smells and weather. For me hunger, menstruation and weather cause my migraines. I can get a migraine before I even realize I am hungry. It can thankfully be reduced by eating, but once it’s there – food doesn’t make it go away.
There are several kinds of medications out there for migraines: Over the country (i.e. Excederin migraine), NSAIDS (i.e. Naproxen), seratonin agonists ( i.e. Imitrex.) and Vasoconsrictors (i.e. caffiene) Caffiene seems to effect me more positively than many. In fact, for a brief time I used caramel hot chocolate from Dunkin Donuts as it seemed most effective and delicious. There are also several kinds of meds to take on a daily basis. I take two which have had little if any positive effect on me.
There are some non-medicine treatments as well such as Relaxation therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and exercise.
For more information on migraines: