Migraines can be severe, but they’re not that unusual. Some estimates say that 12% of all Americans experience a migraine during their life, which offers little comfort to anyone waylaid by the discomfort. Treatment options are available, but the first thing to do is learn as much as you can before the symptoms spiral out of control.
What Is A Migraine?
“A migraine is a headache that can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. It’s often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities.”
There are different kinds, and their side effects and symptoms vary from person to person.
Know The Symptoms
- Prodrome often begins 24 hours before a migraine. It includes food cravings, mood changes, yawning, fluid retention, and heightened urination.
- Aura is known for bright or flashing lights, zig-zag lines, muscle weakness, or feeling as if you’re being touched.
- Headache. A migraine normally begins gradually but worsens over time, and includes throbbing or pulsing pain, frequently on one side of the head. But a migraine can happen without a headache.
- Postdrome is characterized by exhaustion, weakness, and confusion after a migraine, often lasting a day.
Some of the symptoms can be managed with medicine like ketamine.
- If you have a family member with migraines, there’s a good chance you’ll get them, too.
- Migraines can start at any age, but the first occurrence is normal during adolescence. They peak during your 30s but become less severe and infrequent in passing years.
- Women get migraines three times as often as men.
- For women with migraines, headaches could begin just before or shortly after menstruation starts. Hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause are also risk factors.
Facts About Migraines
Migraines are often misunderstood, which leads to problems with diagnosis and treatment, but one way to get past that is to understand key facts about the condition.
- Migraines can often be prevented by avoiding known triggers.
- A sinus headache or severe tension is often misdiagnosed as a headache when, in fact, it may be a migraine.
- Not everyone experiences the same symptoms.
- People think certain foods are a trigger, but they’re not. Instead, hunger has been known to trigger a migraine.
Are Migraines Hereditary?
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Migraines do not have a clear inheritance pattern, although more than half of affected individuals have at least one family member who also has the disorder.”
Many physical or mental health-related conditions have genetic components, even if they’re not fully understood. Obesity, for instance, may run in your family; the same goes for anxiety or mood disorders.
Genetics play more than a support role when it comes to a migraine. It’s believed that up to 60% of the cause of a migraine is due to genes. A person’s genetics can make them more susceptible to environmental changes, including lifestyle factors and triggers which could result in an attack.
The American Migraine Foundation puts it more plainly when it says that if your biological parents have migraine, “there is a 50-75% chance you will too. Knowing your family’s medical history, especially if it involves migraine, can help younger generations get an early and accurate diagnosis, start managing triggers, and explore treatment options.”
In a study called “Exploring the Hereditary Nature of Migraine,” the U.S. National Institutes of Health concludes that genetics is an essential component. Still, the condition itself isn’t fully understood, and more research is needed. “Migraine is a complex neurological disorder with a genetic basis, although we do not fully understand all the genes and the mechanisms behind the disorder. Genetic studies of migraine are further complicated by variation in patient symptoms and comorbidity with other complex neurological diseases.”
Diagnosis & Treatment
A migraine may be diagnosed based on medical history, symptoms, and a physical and neurological assessment. If your headache is unusual, complicated, or abruptly becomes severe, tests may be performed to rule out other reasons for your pain. These tests could include magnetic resonance imaging scans (for detailed images of your brain and blood vessels) and computerized tomography scans (which create a thorough cross-section view of your brain). These kinds of tests are helpful in diagnosing a migraine but aren’t foolproof.
Treatment may include prescription or store-bought pain relievers, lifestyle changes including avoiding known triggers, and options like ketamine therapy.