What is migraine?Migraine is a severe headache disorder that causes throbbing pain. Migraine may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. A migraine attack can last for hours or even days and interfere with daily activities. Some people experience a warning sign before their migraine attack occurs. This is known as an aura.
What are the symptoms of migraine?There are four stages of migraine: known prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome. Not everyone will experience all four stages. Common symptoms include:
Weakness or numbness on one side of the body
Sensitivity to light and sound
What causes migraine?The exact cause of migraine isn't entirely known. Genetics and environmental factors seem to contribute. Imbalances in brain chemicals such as serotonin and changes in the brainstem might be involved in migraine development. Some common triggers of migraine attacks include hormonal changes, overuse of alcohol or caffeine, poorly managed stress, overstimulation, sleep changes, weather changes, and certain foods. Fluctuations in estrogen and taking hormonal birth control can also trigger migraine attacks. Bright, flashing lights might induce a migraine attack in individuals already at risk. Salty, processed foods such as cheeses can even be a trigger. Some common food additives such as aspartame and MSG can also play a role in triggering a migraine attack.
How do you treat migraine?A combination of medications and lifestyle changes can help individuals manage migraine. Pain-relieving medications that can help with migraine attacks as they are happening include pain relievers, triptans, dihydroergotamine nasal spray, lasmiditan, ubrogepant, and CGRP antagonists. Opioids may be prescribed to individuals who have difficulty managing pain with other pain relievers or who cannot tolerate anti-migraine medications. Anti-nausea medications such as Zofran can also help individuals living with migraine and experiencing nausea and vomiting. Preventative medications for migraine include blood pressure medications, anti-seizure medications, antidepressants, and botox injections. Lifestyle modifications such as diet changes and stress management can also help prevent migraine attacks.
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