Understanding Migraines

Welcome to our headache blog! At Diamond Headache Clinic, we have over 45 years of experience helping people manage various types of headache. Our migraine blog will feature the latest headache news and insights from our team, as well as helpful tips for migraine sufferers. Bookmark our migraine and cluster headache blog for quick access to current posts. 

Almost everyone gets headaches on occasion. At times, you may wonder if you suffer from migraines. There is a distinct difference between the two. Although migraines can be difficult to treat well, there are many possible options to explore with a physician. Here is some important information to help you better understand migraines and how they can affect your life.

What Is a Migraine?

Many people think that a migraine is simply a really bad headache, but it can be more complicated. As a general rule, migraines meet most of the following criteria:

 

  • Lasts four to 72 hours
  • Remains on one side of the head
  • Comes with additional symptoms, such as nausea or sensitivity to light and sound
  • Significantly affects daily life while headache is present

 

Migraine sufferers, also called “migraineurs,” often have unique symptoms from other people who get migraines. About 25 percent have migraines with aura. This means they get headaches with visual disturbances such as flashing lights.

 

Who Is Most Likely to Get Migraines?

Migraine is a highly common condition. More than 12 percent of the adult population in the United States experiences migraines, although only a small percentage have received a diagnosis. Migraines are most frequent among people ages 15 to 55 — but about 10 percent of children cope with migraines, too.

Genetics tend to be the strongest predictor in whether or not a person will get migraines. The American Migraine Foundation notes that people with a parent who suffers from migraines have about a 50 percent chance of having the condition. Women are three times as likely to have migraines as men.

Are Migraines Debilitating?

Migraines can feature a variety of symptoms from one person to the next. However, the most common indications are severe pain and difficulty managing daily tasks while having a migraine. Migraines have a cycle that can last for a day or two, or as long as a week in some cases:

  • Early symptoms, such as frequent yawning or sensory sensitivity
  • Visual difficulties, numbness or tingling
  • Pain that is often throbbing or burning
  • Exhaustion and difficulty concentrating as symptoms recede

For people who deal with migraines a few times a month, this can turn into a never-ending cycle. People who are sensitive to bright lights, loud sounds or strong scents may have to stay home from work or leisure activities when symptoms are worse.

 

What Are the Most Common Treatments for Migraine?

If you talk to five people who have gone through treatment for migraine, you will likely hear five different stories. Migraines can be somewhat challenging to manage, primarily because there are so many possible triggers. Working with your physician, you may try one or more of the following:

 

  • Managing or avoiding common triggers through diet or environment
  • Over-the-counter analgesics, such as ibuprofen
  • Acute migraine medications, often from the triptan class (e.g., Imitrex or Maxalt)
  • Control over the environment during migraine, by dimming lights or quieting noises
  • Preventive oral medications that migraine sufferers take daily
  • Injections that may offer acute or long-term relief, like BOTOX®
  • Non-medical treatments, such as acupuncture or massage therapy

 

It is important to remember that there is no silver bullet for treating migraines. Everyone’s physiology is unique, which means that it may take a few tries (or a combination) to find the right one for you.

Although migraines are quite common, so many people go without effective treatment. If you are suffering from frequent, severe headaches, you should know that a visit with a migraine specialist is the best way to start managing them. Contact Diamond Headache Clinic to schedule an appointment and follow our migraine treatment blog for more information on the latest innovations.

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