Migraine headaches are throbbing, pulsating headaches that usually occur unilaterally (on one side of the head). The condition, which can be quite debilitating, affects millions of people worldwide. Migraines are often announced, so to speak, by sensory warning signs, or auras. These can be a flash of light, a tingling of the extremities and/or blind spots. They are accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound and intense pain. Migraines can last for minutes, hours or even days.
Women are more likely to develop migraines than men are. This fact causes some experts to theorize that there is a hormonal component to the condition. While it’s true that there is a type of migrains related to menstruation and hormone levels can trigger migraines in some people, migraines can not be attributed to any one factor alone. Besides, other things such as stress, anxiety, lack of food and/or sleep and exposure to light, chemicals and other environmental factors can also trigger migraines.
In the past, doctors thought that migraines were caused by the opening and narrowing, or constricting, of blood vessels in the brain. Now, they know that there are many other factors involved in the development of a migraine such as genetics, gender (as was previously alluded to) and certain allergies and/or sensitivities.
Migraines tend to develop in the younger years and generally decline as a person ages. Migrane headaches are chronic. To secure a diagnosis of migraine headaches, a doctor needs a full medical history. He/she will also give the patient a thorough physical examination and may opt to run some neurological tests to rule out the existence of other conditions. Treatment is based upon these results and takes a variety of factors in account.
Common migraine treatments include prescription and over the counter medications ads well as preventative techniques such as stress management. In some cases, naturopathic or holistic remedies may be employed like acupuncture, biofeedback, hypnosis and more.