Migraine Headaches 101
A migraine is a headache but not just any headache. Your average headache is a bit of a nuisance lasts for a few minutes or maybe an hour and then goes away. Migraines are very different. They are incredibly painful, can last for days and will leave you feel completely exhausted and drained. For want of a better way to describe them they are extremely severe headaches that can leave the sufferer unable to function properly.
Why are they Called Migraines?
The name comes from a mishmash of French and Greek but the original root word was hemicrania – which translates roughly into “half skull” or “half head”. This term was used because most people tend to have migraines just on one side of their head (unilateral) as opposed to both sides of their head (bilateral). If you get bilateral headaches on a regular basis then you should check with your family doctor as soon as possible.
So how is a migraine headache different to a normal headache? Average headaches can be caused by tension or “brain freeze” from eating ice-cream too quickly. Usually a mild painkiller and some rest will get rid of these types of headaches pretty quickly. Migraines are different mainly because they’re caused by so many things and then you have the face that nobody really understands what causes them in the first place.
Doctors thought for years that migraines were purely vascular – basically caused by blood flow problems in your brain. Then as the condition was researched other possible causes popped up including an imbalance in the serotonin levels in the body. This kinda makes sense because people tend to experience migraines more when they’re upset, angry or just generally feeling a bit down in themselves.
So Why Do People Develop Them?
There is also strong evidence that points to migraines being a genetic trait – which means you’re likely to inherit them from one of your parents. Apart from that migraines tend to affect women more than men in general.
What Causes Them?
There are so many migraine triggers it’s very hard to list them all here. Basically bright lights, too much coffee, too much nicotine, too much red wine, tea or chocolate, stress or lack of sleep can kick off a migraine attack. Sometimes a lack of food combined with a lack of sleep can be all it takes to trigger a migraine.
What are the Symptoms?
The first signs of a migraine are usually aura of some kind. Aura means that you’ll see zig-zagging lines in your vision or your vision might become blurred or you’ll see double. Sometimes you’ll develop a bitter or sour taste in your mouth just before the migraine starts. Apart from that an intense throbbing pain on one side of your head, pain in the eye or eye socket, nausea and even vomiting are typical of what you can expect from your average attack.
So these aren’t just a normal headache and all too often it’s hard to tell the difference between a migraine and a tension headache just by looking at somebody. Once you’ve experience a migraine you’ll never forget the experience and you’ll do everything in your power to stop them from ever happening again.