Migraine Headaches: Causes and Symptoms

It is estimated that 25 million people in the United States suffer from migraine headaches. If you are a frequent headache suffer, you may have wondered whether your headaches are indeed migraines. How do you differentiate between a common headache and a migraine? Migraine headaches are severe, and sometimes debilitating headaches that are identified by the following symptoms:

1. Your pain is severe, usually located on one side of your head

2. Your pain is described as throbbing, pulsating pain that worsens with normal activity

3. You have nausea or vomiting

4. You have a loss of appetite

5. You become sensitive to light and sound

6. You experience flashing lights in front of your eyes or other vision changes

Migraine pain has been described by sufferers as intense, throbbing, or pounding. The pain may be felt in the forehead/temple area, ear, jaw, or around the eye. Migraines, usually, but not always, start on one side of the head and can eventually spread to the other side.

Migraine attacks can last anywhere from a few hours to days or even weeks. Sufferers can get repeat attacks as often as several times a week or as rarely as once every few years.

What causes migraines?

Though the exact cause is not known, doctors attribute migraines to several factors. Many doctors agree that migraines do seem to be hereditary, running in families. Statistics report that 70% of migraine sufferers have another family member that also suffer with them. A person born with a tendency to have migraines is susceptible to triggers that do not affect other people. Triggers such as stress, environmental/weather changes, bright light or sunlight, and certain foods can set off a migraine attack.

Some of the foods that doctors attribute to causing migraines include nuts, yogurt, chocolate, processed meat (hot dogs, bacon, salami), aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal), dairy products. There are many other trigger foods. Strangely, foods that bring on migraine attacks in some sufferers don’t affect other sufferers. Every person has their own triggers, whether it be foods or other factors.

If you are experiencing a migraine headache, there are a few things you can do to help yourself cope with the pain.

Lie down in a dark room

Since migraine sufferers experience sensitivity to light, being in a dark room may help. If you don’t have room-darkening curtains or blinds, hang a thick blanket over the window to block out all of the sunlight. Lying down also helps since normal migraines are intensified with any kind of activity.

Hold a cold or hot compress on your head

Some migraines sufferers claim that using an ice pack helps to relieve some of the pain, while others claim that a hot compress, such as a hot rag or heating pad, helps to lessen their pain. You may want to experiment with both to see which works best for you.

Applying pressure to your head

Sometimes, relief can be found by gently applying pressure to the part of the head that is in pain.

See your doctor

If over-the-counter medications do not help, see your doctor. There is no reason to suffer when there are so many medications that may help you.

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Source by John

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