Migraine Triggers and Treatments

Migraine headache seems common, but what exactly is it? Migraine headaches are much different from a regular headache or a headache caused by tension. They are usually felt on the side of the head and the pain can range from mild to severe. Although not well known, the migraine headache is part of a larger condition known as migraine. A migraine attack usually has the symptom of a headache, but can include many others. An attack can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
Many people suffer from migraines. In fact, approximately 28 million Americans suffer from migraine attacks; that's 12 percent of the entire population. Migraines do not discriminate by age; however, they appear most frequently among 20 to 40 year olds. Both men and women suffer from migraines, however in the United States women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men do.
Many researchers believe that some people are more likely to be affected by migraines, if it runs in their family. Although some people are predisposed to attacks, there are many known triggers that can bring them on. Everyone's experiences with migraines differ, however they share many of the same symptoms. Common symptoms of a migraine attack are severe, throbbing pain usually on one side of the head, nausea sometimes accompanied by vomiting and sensitivity to light, sound and odor. Some people can experience a visual disturbance also known as an aura. An aura can affect all the senses, but usually appears visually as flashes of light, what looks like heat waves passing across your field of vision, or zigzag patterns that move across your eyesight. Other symptoms of a migraine attack include loss of appetite, fatigue, dizziness, sensations of being hot or cold and sometimes although rarely a fever can occur. Migraine attacks occur often to the sufferer, usually once a month.
Researchers believe that migraine sufferers are ultra sensitive to migraine triggers. Triggers can include different foods, hormonal factors, or the environment. Triggers vary from sufferer to sufferer, however, there are some triggers that are more common than others are. Some common triggers are chocolate, MSG, fatty foods, skipped meals, lack of sleep, menstruation, stress, depression, weather changes, motion, strong odors, histamines, or even anti-asthma medications. It is important to be aware of your triggers so you can avoid them. Although avoiding triggers can decrease the frequency of migraines, rarely does it eradicate them altogether.
Treatment for migraines will vary, although it should be tailored to you as everyone's experience with migraines differ. There are different medications a doctor can prescribe. Some medications are preventative, which will be taken regularly to decrease the number of attacks that start. Other medications can be prescribed for when a migraine has already begun, in order to reduce the pain, although these rarely work completely. However, the nearer to the beginning of the attack that you take the medication the more effective it will be killing the pain. Be sure to discuss your options with your doctor thoroughly to find out what is best for you.
Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Migraine
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