A migraine causes severe pain or throbbing in the head. This pain usually occurs just on one side and is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting or sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines have four stages, though a person may not necessarily experience all of them when having a migraine. The first is called “prodrome” and occurs when someone sees subtle changes in their body (such as increased thirst or urination, mood changes or food cravings) one or two days before the migraine begins. The second is “aura,” which includes symptoms of the nervous system that are usually visual disturbances like flashes of light. Symptoms of the “aura” stage could also be sensory, motor or verbal disturbances. The third is “attack,” or in other words, the migraine itself. This stage can last from four to 72 hours and cause extreme pain, hypersensitivity and lightheadedness. The fourth stage is “post-drome” and occurs after the migraine. This stage can make people feel worn out, weak or moody.
Some people are able to identify triggers of their migraines, but oftentimes triggers are varied and sometimes remain unknown. Common triggers include specific foods or drinks, stress or sensory stimuli. Treatments for migraines are aimed at reducing symptoms and preventing future attacks. Primary treatment options include pain-relieving medication and preventative medication. Some find alternative therapies such as acupuncture or massage therapy to be helpful in reducing symptoms.
Migraine is the third most common disease in the world and is extremely painful, ranked globally as the seventh most disabling disease. Because of this, migraines can be incredibly debilitating and force a person to back out of everything on their schedule for a few days until the migraine subsides. It can also be frustrating that migraines are so unpredictable and may appear at any time. Many people who experience migraines believe that educating oneself is extremely important. This may include learning the signs, symptoms and progression of your migraine and/or taking extra precautionary measures to avoid triggers or prevent a migraine.
Since migraines are so prevalent, there are a number of organizations and research foundations that aim to improve the quality of life of the people who experience them.