Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health
Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health

Migraine

What is a migraine?

Causes of migraines

Symptoms of migraines

Migraine podrome phase

Migraine aura

Migraine triggers

Prevention / remedies / cures / treatment for migraines

What is a migraine?

A migraine is characterised by severe headaches, nausea, and altered perceptions. The headaches are usually on one side of the head, or behind one eye or temple. Sometimes they affect both sides. They typically last between 2 and 72 hours.

People suffering a migraine will seek to retreat in a dark, quiet room.

The severity, duration and frequency of migraines can vary. Some people experience just a few in a lifetime, others several a week. The average sufferer experiences one to three migraines per month. The head pain varies greatly in intensity, and can be very severe.

Between 12-28% of people will have a migraine at some time in their life. About two thirds of migraines run in families. Three times as many women suffer from migraines as men. However, prior to puberty migraines equally affect boys and girls. Fewer children (pre-puberty) and older people (especially post-menopause women) suffer migraines. After age 40, about 25% of women experience a migraine at least once a year, compared with fewer than 10% of men. After menopause, attacks in women are far fewer, so that in the over 70s approximately equal numbers of males and females are sufferers (at about 5%).

Some people feel refreshed or euphoric after a migraine attack, whereas others feel depressed or malaise.

Causes of migraines

The cause of migraines is not well understood, but seems to involve the widening and narrowing of blood vessels in the brain, along with pain neurons in parts of the brain somehow going out-of-control.

Symptoms of migraines

Migraine podrome phase

A few hours or days before a migraine attack, the majority (about 60%) of sufferers have a podrome phase. They may notice altered mood, irritability, depression or euphoria, sensitivity to smells or noise, visual disturbances, altered sense of taste and smell, fatigue, yawning, excessive sleepiness, craving for certain food (e.g. chocolate), stiff muscles (especially in the neck), constipation or diarrhoea, or increased urination. With experience the patient is warned that a migraine attack is coming.

Migraine aura

An aura is a transient visual, sensory, language, or motor disturbance. It can occur as as a strange light, an unpleasant smell or confusing thoughts or experiences. People can experience flashes of white or black, or occasionally multi-coloured lights; zig zag lines, or cloudy or blurred vision. Others experience feelings of pins and needles, tingling, numbness, or hypersensitivity.

Most people who experience auras have the same type of aura every time, though it is not unusual for migraine sufferers to experience more than one type of aura during a migraine.

About 15 to 35% of people who suffer from migraines experience an aura before the migraine occurs. The time between the appearance of the aura and the onset of a migraine may be between a few seconds and up to an hour. Sometimes there is no migraine after they experience an aura.

The aura can stay with a migraine sufferer for the duration of the migraine. This can leave the person disoriented or confused.

Migraine triggers

Keep a diary to look for associations between headaches and suspected triggers. One trigger in isolation may not cause a migraine. For example, a small block of dark chocolate will not cause a migraine, but half a slab may if it was eaten on a hot humid day, after an argument and having had little sleep.

Prevention / remedies / cures / treatment for migraines