Migraine – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Migraine is a headache that causes a throbbing sensation on one side of the head. Headaches that are felt during migraines also vary, often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.

Migraine is an intense headache, sometimes weakening a person’s physical condition. The most common types of migraines are those who have aura (classic migraine) and migraine without aura (general migraine).

Migraine can be started in childhood or it may not occur until early adulthood. Women are three times more likely to experience migraines than men. Family history is one of the most common risk factors for migraines.

Causes of Migraine

What causes migraines? Researchers have not identified the exact cause for migraines. However, researchers have found several factors that can trigger this condition. This includes changes in brain chemistry, such as decreased serotonin levels.

The factors that can trigger migraines include:

  • Bright light
  • Extreme weather such as very hot or very cold
  • Changes in air pressure
  • Hormonal changes, such as estrogen fluctuations during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause for women
  • Drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks
  • Foods such as cheese, salty foods, or processed foods
  • Eating additional foods, such as aspartame (artificial sugar) or monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Eat foods that have tyramine additives, which are found in soy products, fava beans, hard sausages, smoked fish, cheese, and Chianti wine
  • Excessive stress
  • Loud noise
  • Physical activity
  • Eat late
  • Lack of sleep
  • Consumption of certain drugs, such as oral contraceptives or nitroglycerin
  • Inhale unusual odors

If you have a migraine, your doctor may recommend making a journal that contains daily activities. The journal contains daily activities, what foods are eaten, and what drugs are consumed before migraines occur so that they can help identify triggers.

Symptoms of migraine

What are the symptoms and phases of migraine? Symptoms of migraine can begin 1-2 days before the headache itself. This is known as the stage of prodormal migraine. These symptoms include:

  • Food cravings
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Yawning often
  • Hyperactive
  • Irritability
  • Stiff neck

Some people may also experience aura after the prodromal stage. The aura can be visual disturbances such as seeing flashes of light, motor such as twitching in some parts of the body and speech disorders such as difficulty speaking clearly. Following are the forms of aura in migraine:

  • Difficulty speaking clearly
  • Feeling tingling in the arms and legs
  • See flashes of light
  • Seeing a form of shadow that doesn’t actually exist
  • Temporary visual loss

The next stage is known as the attack phase. This is the most acute or severe phase when the actual migraine occurs. Symptoms of an attack phase can last from 4 hours to 3 days. Symptoms of migraine can vary from person to person. Some symptoms may include:

  • Feel dizzy or faint
  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound
  • Nausea
  • Gag
  • Pain on one side of the head

After the attack phase, a person will experience a phase of postdrome. During this last phase, a person will often experience changes in mood and feelings, which can range from feeling happy and very happy, to feeling very tired and apathetic.

Migraine Risk and Complications

What are the risks associated with migraines? Migraine headaches can cause risks and complications, both from the headaches themselves and from medications given to help relieve migraine symptoms.

Sometimes migraine headaches can last a long time, occur anywhere from 3-15 days or more in a month. Because headaches affect the ability to think clearly, sufferers may experience difficulties at school or at work.

Consumption of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as paracetamol in high doses or for a long period of time can cause erosion of the stomach wall and gastric bleeding. Taking drugs for more than 10 days a month for more than three months can cause excessive headaches.

Medications prescribed for migraine are drugs that stimulate serotonin increase. In the long run, consumption of this drug also results in a side effect known as serotonin syndrome. These medicines include:

  • Duloxetine
  • Fluoxetine
  • Paroxetine
  • Sertraline
  • Sumatriptan
  • Venlafaxine
  • Zolmitriptan

Too much serotonin can cause hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, agitation, diarrhea, and a fast heartbeat. In some cases, this condition can be life threatening. As usual, make sure to take this medicine according to a doctor’s prescription.

Other steps you can take at home to reduce migraine pain include:

  • Lie in a quiet place, dark room
  • Massaging the scalp
  • Place a cold cloth over the forehead or behind the neck
  • Many prevention techniques, such as avoiding headaches if you really know what the trigger is

Treating Migraine

How to treat migraine? There is currently no single drug for migraine. Treatment is intended to prevent and reduce symptoms that occur.

Lifestyle changes that might help reduce migraine frequency include:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Reduce stress
  • Drink lots of water
  • Avoid certain foods
  • Regular physical exercise

Some people also find that special diets can help, such as gluten-free.

Consider seeking further treatment if the changes above do not relieve symptoms or frequency of migraines. Treatment of migraine symptoms focuses on avoiding triggers, controlling symptoms, and taking medication.