Understanding Migraine Headaches
Share by Gael Woods
I am fortunate that over the years my migraines have essentially disappeared. I get 1 or 2 a year maybe. I do recall those horrible times of getting 6-10 a month. I hope everyone has their migraines diminish over time.
Migraine is more than ‘just a headache.’ Anyone who has ever suffered from the misery of a migraine will tell you that they can be anything from unsettling and uncomfortable to downright incapacitating.
Not all people who experience migraines will get the classic headache – and some people don’t experience the headache every time. Because a migraine headache is considered a ‘primary’ headache, because there is no apparent underlying condition that could be causing it, they can be hard to treat.
What Is a Migraine Headache?
A migraine headache is more of a condition than just a headache. Migraine headaches are typically very severe and can come with additional symptoms like dizziness, nausea and even loss of speech and sight which can be extremely frightening. In some people, they are accompanied by sight disturbances and other neurological symptoms that doctors call the ‘migraine aura’. Sometimes, in a migraine with aura, there is no headache or it can be averted with painkillers at the aura stage, but in other cases the classic migraine headache can be blindingly painful, lasting anything from 20 minutes to a couple of days.
Some people who experience sudden, severe, or recurrent migraines will need to be seen by a doctor and examined for other possible conditions, but in most cases migraines just have to be managed and treated as there is no cure – and often no obvious triggers. As migraine can sometimes be associated with other more severe conditions, if you have what you think is a migraine for the first time, you should seek advice from a medical professional.
How long can a migraine last?
Migraines are notorious for sticking around a long time. Some migraines only last for a few hours but if you’re unlucky enough to suffer from severe, prolonged migraines they can last for several days. Sometimes, the migraine sufferer will experience neurological symptoms before, during, and afterwards, including strange floating lights and auras. They might also experience these symptoms between bouts of pain.
What causes migraines?
Although the exact cause of migraine headaches is not known, most studies think there’s a genetic link that’s exacerbated by other triggers. Migraines tend to run in families and are usually hereditary. Some people can be set off by very strong smells, certain foods, heat, or bright lights.
How do you treat a migraine?
This is something you might want to discuss with your doctor, but there are options available for managing migraines. Many people turn to medication, understandably. Massage therapy can help to reduce the number of migraines in sufferers – a 2006 study of migraine sufferers showed that people who had massages experienced fewer migraines and slept better during the weeks they had massages, although it was a small study. You may have to try several different treatment options before discovering the best one for you.