The storm in your head – Migraine!


This article deals with frequent asked questions migraineurs (people who suffer from migraine) might have and touches me personally as my mother suffers from migraine since more than 10 years. She describes migraine as one of the worst pain she experienced in her life.  Migraine is more than just a headache. Depending on the type and the individual itself, the headache most often comes along with nausea, vomiting, dizziness, inability to concentrate and sensitivity to light and/or sound. Some migraineurs are tormented by short migraine attacks that last for few minutes or hours, whereas others, like my mum, need to stand the pain for up to 3 days. During a migraine attack in many cases the only questions the sufferers asked is “How can I stop this terrible pain?” But after recovering, there are other information people might want to know. Here are some of them:


What causes migraine?

After years of research, doctors are still not 100% sure about the cause of migraine. They assume that chemical reactions in the brain, which may be the result of a lack of high-energy substances, can be a trigger. Some nerves in the brain, which are originally there for the recovery process start a storm of electrical impulses. Messenger substances are distributed excessively. As a result, the blood vessels close to the eyes swell and activate “trigeminus” the pain nerve of the human head.


Migraine can go along with an “aura”. What is meant by that?

Seeing wavy lines

Image courtesy of: pinterest

About every fifth person with migraine gets an “aura” during or right before a migraine attack. An aura is a manifestation of neurological symptoms that can result in seeing wavy or jagged lines, dots, or flashing lights. Tunnel vision or blind spots in one or both eyes are not seldom. The aura can also include visual or auditory hallucinations and disruptions in smell, taste or touch. Other symptoms include numbness and difficulty in recalling or speaking correctly. These neurological events may last for as long as sixty minutes and will fade as the headache begins.


What can be a trigger for migraine?

A trigger can be physical or environmental factors, such as any toxins in terms of alcohol, drugs, nicotine, but also flavour enhancers and other substances in food and drinks. Chocolate, gummy bears and chips can be the trigger for some people. So keep that in mind!
Weather change, hormonal changes (e.g. in the menopause) and stress can also lead to migraine. However, it´s important to remember that triggers are different for everyone. That’s why it´s sometimes not easy to give preventive medication recommendations to migraineurs. A good means to find out what triggers your headache, by yourself can be by writing a headache diary.


How dangerous is migraine?

Although migraine headaches are excruciating, they are seldom life threatening. They definitely limit life quality for persons concerned and can cause depression and anxiety disorders. Sudden neurological disruptions in terms of visual disturbances (blind spot, blurry vision) can be dangerous, especially in traffic.


What are alternative therapies to treat migraine?

Examples of alternative therapy include acupuncture, acupressure, massages and yoga. Another treatment may be herbal therapy, as some herbs are believed to relieve headache pain. These alternative treatments are no acute treatment and like the triggers, its value totally depends on the individual.


What is Menstrual Migraine?

Menstrual Migraine can be a) Menstrual Related Migraine (MRM) and b) Pure Menstrual Migraine (PMM). The MRM is a headache of moderate-to-severe pain intensity that happens during a certain time period and at other times of the month as well. The PMM is similar, but the it only occurs during the time around your period occurs.


What is a cluster headache?

Drawing by a cluster headache patient

Image courtesy of: wordpress

Cluster headache gets its name because the attacks come in groups. The pain arrives with little or no warning at all and is usually on one side of the head. You might have a tearing eye and running nose on the side of your head where the pain occurs. Cluster headache is the most painful of any headache type. Treatment for cluster headache includes prescription medication and oxygen.


Is migraine inheritable?

There may be a genetic predisposition to migraine, as it does tend to run in families. However, not everyone in a family will get it automatically, although the probability is higher than for people without migraine in their family.


Migraine is not just a headache. It´s a very serious disease that can lower the quality of life to a minimum. Scientists do their best to find a cure but still, most of the cures are more relieving the pain than healing the cause. If you suffer from migraine, like my mother does, you´ll know about the pain and psychological stress. What helps you to relieve the pain? Please share your tips with like-minded people in our Discussion Forum or right in the comments.






Jens Behrensen

by Jens Behrensen

German fitness addict sharing my experience and trying to bring a healthier lifestyle to people. View all articles by Jens Behrensen.


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