igraine is a type of headache that is chronic and recurrent. It is usually throbbing (or pulsating) and typically affects one side of the head. The pain is worsened when you cough, bend, or move your head suddenly (Cutrer, 2020). It affects women more than men and it can affect both children and adults. In children, it affects boys and girls equally. Women who have migraines should not take oral contraceptives (a.k.a birth control pills) because it increases the risk of having a stroke.
Patients with migraine report severe sensitivity to light and sound (or noise) and report their headache is better with lying down in a dark and quiet room; and aggravated by physical activity. You can feel nauseous and sometimes vomit. Other symptoms include aversion to odors, dizziness, sensation of room spinning, nasal congestion (Kwiatkowski et.al, 2018, p. 1265).
Some people have a migraine “aura”. An aura is a symptom that some people have with a migraine. It is reversible and usually lasts 10-20mins but can be as short as a few minutes and as long as 60 minutes (Kwiatkowski et.al, 2018, p. 1265). Not all people have an aura. Aura varies from person to person. Most patients with migraine do not have an aura. Those with aura report seeing flashes or sparks of light, zig-zagged lines, bright rim around an area of visual loss, hear sounds or ringing in the ears (Kwiatkowski et.al, 2018, p. 1265), or have stroke-like symptoms such as numbness and tingling involving one side of the body. This can include the face, the lips, arm or leg. Some also experience a transient loss of their vision. Migraine headache usually begins during an aura or afterwards.
Hemiplegic Migraine: It is a rare form of migraine that has weakness of one side of the body as its distinctive feature. Like other forms of migraine, the weakness is an aura and it’s usually accompanied by other types of aura such as trouble speaking, numbness, tingling, confusion, or difficulty with coordination or finding one’s balance. If you have any of these symptoms, you may be having a stroke, do not assume you have hemiplegic migraine, Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Migraine with brainstem aura manifests as slurred speech, ringing in the ears, sensation of room spinning (vertigo), double vision, and confusion. If you have these symptoms, you may be having a stroke, do not assume you have hemiplegic migraine, Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room
Migraine triggers (Why do I get Migraine?)
- Emotional stress
- Hormonal changes- applies to women. Some women get migraine just before their period and right after their period starts.
- Women taking birth control pills containing estrogen also get migraine.
- Drugs such as nitroglycerin (Kwiatkowski et.al, 2018, p. 1266)
- Hunger- when you don’t eat enough or skip a meal
- Sleep deprivation or too much sleep
- Certain foods or drinks such as red or port wine, hot dogs, chocolate, caffeine, and foods high in monosodium glutamate (MSG) and tyramine (e.g. aged cheese) (Kwiatkowski et.al, 2018, p. 1266)
- Weather changes
- Flashing or bright lights
- Strong odors and loud noises (Kwiatkowski et.al, 2018, p. 1266)
- Strenuous physical activity
Should you see a doctor if you’re having migraine?
Yes. Migraine can be treated and prevented. Because some migraine symptoms such as numbness, tingling, blurry vision, double vision, difficulty speaking, and weakness of one side of the body can mimic a stroke, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Can iCare Primary Care help me with my Migraine?
Kwiatkowski, T & Friedman, B. (2018). Headache Disorders: Migraine Headache, Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice (pp 1265-1267). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
Cutrer, M (2020). Pathophysiology, clinical manifestations and diagnosis of migraine in adults. Retrieved from www.uptodate.com