Migraine is a neurological condition that is characterized by intense, debilitating headaches. They can last for hours or even days. The symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, difficulty speaking, numbness or tingling, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines often run in families and affect all ages.

It’s thought that migraines are a result of abnormal brain activity causing a temporary alteration in the nerve signals, chemicals and blood flow in the brain. During a migraine, you might experience four stages which include prodrome, aura, headache, and post-drome, though it’s not necessary to have all stages.


It’s also important to note that some people might experience a warning symptom known as an aura before a migraine begins. This can involve visual changes such as flashes of light or blind spots, trouble speaking, and abnormal sensation like tingling in your face or hands.

Migraines can be triggered by a number of things including stress, certain foods, hormonal changes, lack of sleep, and certain environmental factors like weather changes or bright lights. Treatment can involve preventive measures (identifying triggers and avoiding them, taking medication to prevent a headache) and relief measures (taking medication to reduce symptoms). It’s advisable to see a healthcare professional for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Causes of Migraine

Migraines are complex conditions and their exact cause isn’t fully understood yet. However, below are several factors believed to trigger migraines:

1. Genetics: Migraines often run in families, indicating that genetics can play a role.

2. Hormonal Changes: Fluctuating hormone levels, especially estrogen in women, can cause migraines. That’s why migraines are often reported in women just before or during their periods, during pregnancy, or during menopause.

3. Nervous System Changes: Some researchers think migraines may be caused by instabilities in the way nerves communicate in the brain, leading to migraines.

4. Chemical Imbalances: Serotonin is a hormone that can cause or prevent headaches. During migraines, serotonin levels drop. Then the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway, releases neuropeptides which can cause headache pain.

5. Triggers: Certain environmental factors or lifestyle habits, like stress, changes in weather, certain foods and drinks (like aged cheese, alcohol, caffeine), lack of sleep, intense physical exertion, certain smells or lights, or some medications can also trigger migraines. There’s even something known as a “weekend migraine,” which is thought to be caused by the change in your routine.

All that being said, the causes of migraines can vary greatly between different individuals, and what might trigger a migraine in one person might not in another. It ultimately helps for each individual to identify their own triggers to better manage or even prevent migraines.

Risk Factors of Migraine

Migraines can be triggered by a number of factors and some people may have a genetic predisposition to experiencing them. Here are some of the risk factors of migraines:

1. Family History: Most people with migraines have family members who have migraines.

2. Age: Migraines can occur at any age, though the first often occurs during adolescence. Migraines tend to peak during your 30s, and gradually become less severe and less frequent in the following decades.

3. Sex: Women are three times more likely to have migraines. Migraines can affect boys and girls equally, but it’s more common in adult women due to hormonal influences.

4. Hormonal changes: For women, hormonal changes can also trigger migraines. Many women experience migraines related to their menstrual cycles, while others may find they develop migraines for the first time during pregnancy or menopause.

5. Stress and Anxiety: High levels of stress or anxiety can lead to migraines in some people.

6. Certain foods and drinks: Some migraines appear to be triggered by certain types of food, such as cheese, chocolate, and foods and drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol.

7. Sleep changes: Missing sleep, getting too much sleep, jet lag, or having disturbed sleep patterns can trigger migraines in some people.

8. Certain medications: Certain types of medication, such as oral contraceptives and vasodilators, can aggravate migraines.

Risk factors can vary from person to person and it’s important to remember that having a risk factor for migraines doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop them.

Signs and Symptoms of Migraine

Migraines are a type of severe, recurring headache, often characterized by specific signs and symptoms, which can vary from person to person. Common migraine signs and symptoms include:

1. Severe, throbbing pain: This typically happens on one side of the head, but it can also affect both sides. The pain can be moderate to extremely severe.

2. Nausea or vomiting: Many people with migraines may feel nauseated, and they may also vomit.

3. Sensitivity to light, sound, and smell: During a migraine, you might find bright lights, loud noises, or strong smells particularly overwhelming and bothersome.

4. Visual disturbances or aura: Some people could experience what’s called a “migraine aura” before the headache begins. Auras are usually visual disturbances such as seeing flashing lights, zigzag patterns, blind spots, or shimmering spots or stars.

5. Fatigue and confusion: You may feel tired or drained, and you might have trouble thinking clearly or communicating.

6. Dizziness or faintness: Some individuals might feel dizzy or unsteady, and in extreme cases, could faint.

7. Difficulty speaking: In rare cases, individuals may have trouble speaking clearly during a migraine.

8. Feelings of unease and discomfort in the neck or shoulders.

It’s important to note that migraines are often preceded by warning symptoms (prodrome) such as constipation, mood changes, food cravings, neck stiffness, increased thirst and urination, and frequent yawning.

Remember, migraines can be very different between people so not everyone will experience all these symptoms and some people may experience additional symptoms not listed here. If you’re experiencing migraine for the first time, or if your headaches change in pattern or severity, it’s important to seek medical advice.

Diagnosis Migraine

Migraine is a type of headache characterized by recurrent and severe episodes of head pain. It is a neurological condition that can cause multiple symptoms. Diagnosed mainly in women, it’s typically a severe throbbing recurring pain, usually on one side of the head, but it can affect both sides.

The symptoms of a migraine can include nausea, vomiting, difficulty speaking, numbness or tingling, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines often include a change in mood before the headache, auras, and other signs.

A diagnosis of migraine often involves a medical history and physical examination. The International Headache Society recommends the “5, 4, 3, 2, 1 criteria” to diagnose migraines without aura. This stands for:

5 or more attacks
4 hours to 3 days in duration
At least 2 of unilateral location, pulsating quality, moderate or severe pain intensity, aggravation by or causing avoidance of routine physical activity
At least 1 additional symptom such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, or sensitivity to sound.

However, because the symptoms of migraine can be similar to other conditions, additional testing may be needed to rule out other potential causes.

Treatment of Migraine

The treatment of migraines primarily focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing additional attacks. It can include several approaches:

1. Medications: There are two types of medicines for migraines. Pain-relieving medications which are taken during migraine attacks and are designed to stop symptoms. Preventive medications are taken regularly to reduce the severity or frequency of the migraines.

2. Pain relievers: Over-the-counter remedies such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications.

3. Triptans: Triptans (sumatriptan, rizatriptan, etc.) are prescription drugs that block pain pathways in the brain and help to ease the pain and symptoms of migraines. Some triptans can also be given as a nasal spray or injection.

4. Ergotamine: This medication is effective for those whose migraines usually last more than 48 hours.

5. Anti-nausea medication: It is often used in combination with other medications. Drugs like metoclopramide or chlorpromazine can help with the nausea that often comes with migraines.

6. Preventive medications: These include cardiovascular drugs (beta-blockers, antihypertensives), antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, and Botox.

Non-pharmacological treatments can also help manage migraines:

1. Stress management: Relaxation exercises, deep breathing, yoga, and reducing stress can reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.

2. Regular physical exercise: Regular exercise such as swimming or walking can reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.

3. Adequate sleep: Lack of sleep or too much sleep can trigger migraines. Regular sleep routine helps.

4. Avoid triggers: Certain foods, drink, or factors like bright light can trigger migraines. Identifying and avoiding these can help.

5. Biofeedback and physical therapy: These methods can help control muscle tension, which plays a role in causing headaches.

6. Acupuncture: In some people, acupuncture can help reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines.

Please remember to consult with a healthcare professional to learn more about the best treatment options for you. Different treatments work better for different people, and what works best can depend on how frequent and severe the migraines are. It’s important to note that some treatments might have side effects, so it’s crucial to discuss this with your doctor.

Medications commonly used for Migraine

Sure, here’s some information on the common medications used to treat migraines:

1. Over-the-counter drugs: Non-prescription medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), aspirin, and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) often help mild to moderate migraines.

2. Triptans: These medications are often effective for moderate to severe migraines. They include sumatriptan (Imitrex), rizatriptan (Maxalt), almotriptan (Axert), naratriptan (Amerge), zolmitriptan (Zomig), frovatriptan (Frova), and eletriptan (Relpax).

3. Ergotamines: These are less effective than triptans. Examples are ergotamine (Ergomar) and dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45, Migranal).

4. Anti-nausea drugs: Sometimes migraines are accompanied by nausea. In these cases, medications like metoclopramide (Reglan) or prochlorperazine (Compro) may be prescribed.

5. Opioid medications: These are sometimes used for people who can’t take triptans or ergots. Narcotics, particularly codeine, are sometimes used, though they can be habit-forming.

6. Glucocorticoids: A type of steroid hormone that can also improve symptoms, but is usually used in conjunction with other drugs. Prednisone or dexamethasone are common examples.

7. Preventive Medications: In cases where migraines are frequent or very severe, doctors may suggest preventive medications. These could include cardiovascular drugs, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, and Botox among others.

Please consult with a healthcare professional for the best approach to managing migraines. Everyone’s situation is unique and the listed medications may not be suitable for everyone.

Prevention of Migraine

Preventing migraines involves lifestyle modifications and sometimes medication. Here are some ways to help prevent migraines:

1. Regular Exercise: Physical activity releases chemicals in your brain that block pain signals to the brain. Make sure to warm up slowly, as sudden, intense exercise can cause headaches.

2. Reduce Stress: Stress can trigger migraines. Regular relaxation practices such as yoga, guided imagery, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation might help.

3. Have a Regular Sleep Schedule: Too much or too little sleep can trigger migraines, so ensure you have consistent sleep habits.


4. Eat Regular Meals: Low blood sugar can cause migraines, so you should eat regularly to prevent this.

5. Stay Hydrated: Lack of fluids, or dehydration, may be a migraine trigger for some people. Drinking plenty of water each day may be helpful.

6. Avoid Triggers: Avoid foods and drinks that have been identified as triggers, such as alcohol, especially beer and red wine; aged cheeses; chocolate; aspartame; caffeine; salty foods; and processed foods.

7. Limit screen time: Long periods of screen time can lead to eyestrain and trigger migraines. Make sure to take regular breaks from the screen, and consider adjustments to lighting, posture, etc.

8. Medication: If your migraines are severe or you have tried avoiding known triggers and are still experiencing symptoms, a doctor may prescribe medications to help prevent the migraines.

Remember, everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s important to discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider so they can help devise a personalized approach to managing and preventing your migraines.

FAQ’s about Migraine

1. What is a Migraine?
A migraine is a recurring type of headache that can cause moderate to severe pain that is throbbing or pulsating. The pain is often on one side of your head, and you may have other symptoms, such as nausea and weakness.

2. What Are the Symptoms of a Migraine?
Typically, migraines cause intense, throbbing pain in one area of the head. Some people may experience pain around both the eyes or temples. Other symptoms might include loss of appetite, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light, sound, or smell.

3. What Causes Migraines?
The exact cause of migraines is not fully understood. Many experts believe that it’s related to changes in the brain and influenced by genetic factors. Triggers can include certain foods, stress, hormonal changes, caffeine, sleep disturbances, and more.

4. How Are Migraines Diagnosed?
Migraines are typically diagnosed based on your clinical history, meaning your description of the symptoms and triggers. Your doctor may also perform a physical and neurological examination to rule out other conditions that could be causing your headaches.

5. Are Migraines Hereditary?
Migraines seem to have a genetic factor. They often run in families, but it’s not completely understood how much of a role genetics plays.

6. What Is an Aura with a Migraine?
An aura is a series of sensory and visual changes that can occur before or during a migraine. Examples include vision loss, seeing various shapes, flashing lights, or blurry vision.

7. How Can You Prevent a Migraine?
Preventing a migraine often involves understanding and avoiding personal triggers, such as certain foods or stress. Regular physical activity and a consistent sleep schedule may also help. Your doctor may also prescribe medication if your migraines are frequent or severe.

8. How Are Migraines Treated?
Migraine treatments can help stop symptoms and prevent future attacks. Many medications have been designed to treat migraines, over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen, as well as prescription medications. Other treatments include lifestyle alterations like diet changes, stress management, and acupuncture.

9. What is the Difference Between a Headache and a Migraine?
All migraines are headaches, but not all headaches are migraines. General headaches can range from a mild ache to a severe throbbing pain. Migraines, however, are usually characterised by severe pain on one or both sides of the head, an upset stomach, and, at times, disturbed vision.

10. Can Migraines be Cured?
Currently, there is no known cure for migraines. However, the condition can be managed effectively with the help of medications and certain lifestyle changes.

Remember, always consult a doctor for medical advice and treatment.

Useful links

Migraine is a type of headache that often comes with nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. These attacks can cause significant pain for hours to days, being so severe that all you can think about is finding a dark, quiet place to lie down. In some people, a warning symptom known as an aura occurs before or with the headache, including visual disturbances like flashes of light or blind spots, difficulty speaking or tingling on one side of the face, arm, or leg.

List of useful links from medical and scientific journals that can provide more information on migraine:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15070571/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30225597/

Please be aware that medical information can be complex and difficult to understand without prior medical training. Always consult with a healthcare professional for accurate information.

Complications of Migraine

Migraines are a recurring type of headache that can cause moderate to severe pain, which is often described as pounding, throbbing pain. They can be complicated and can potentially lead to a number of health issues:

1. Chronic Migraines: If migraines occur 15 days or more a month for at least three months, they are considered chronic. This condition can negatively impact an individual’s quality of life.

2. Migraine with Aura: Some people experience visual or sensory symptoms before the onset of the migraine, known as an aura. This can include seeing flashing lights, blind spots, or feeling tingling in the face or hands.

3. Condition Worsening Over Time: Without effective management, migraines can worsen over time. This can lead to more severe pain and longer lasting headaches.

4. Mental Health Issues: People with migraines are more likely to have depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and other psychiatric disorders.

5. Stroke: In some cases, people with migraines with aura are at a higher risk of strokes. This risk may be enhanced by other factors such as oral contraceptive use, smoking and hypertension.

6. Serotonin Syndrome: A rare complication associated with use of certain medications to treat migraines. This is characterized by high levels of the chemical serotonin in the brain. Symptoms may include shivering, sweating, high body temperature, restlessness, and rapid heart rate.

7. Status Migrainosus: This is a severe migraine attack lasting for more than 72 hours. It may require hospitalization as persistent, severe migraine attacks can lead to dehydration and other complications.

8. Persistent Aura Without Infarction: An uncommon condition characterized by aura symptoms that last for one week or longer. Symptoms may persist for several days or can be permanent.

9. Migrainous Infarction: A very rare type of stroke that occurs during a migraine with aura.

These potential complications underscore the importance of seeking medical advice if you regularly experience symptoms of migraines. Specialist care can help manage the condition and reduce the risk of complications.

Home remedies of Migraine

Here are some home remedies that might help alleviate migraine pain:

1. Rest in a Dark, Quiet Room: Stress, lights, and noise can make migraine pain worse, so try relaxing in a calm and dark room where it’s quiet.

2. Hydrate: Drink plenty of fluids, such as water or herbal teas, to hydrate your body. Sometimes, dehydration can trigger migraines.

3. Eat Regularly: Skipping meals can also trigger migraines. Make sure that you’re eating a balanced diet at regular intervals.

4. Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity can reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines. But be careful not to overdo it, as over-exertion can also cause migraines.

5. Cold Compress: Applying a cold pack to your forehead can help reduce migraine pain. You can buy reusable cold packs at most pharmacies, or even make one at home by putting a water-soaked cloth in the freezer for a few minutes.

6. Caffeine: In some cases, drinking beverages with caffeine, such as coffee or tea, can provide relief from migraine pain. However, it’s important to use this method cautiously as excessive consumption of caffeine can lead to headaches.

7. Aromatherapy: Certain essential oils, like lavender or peppermint, can help in reducing the symptoms of a migraine when inhaled.

8. Yoga and Meditation: They can help in reducing stress, improving blood circulation and relaxing the mind, thereby helping to cope with migraines.

9. Sleep Well: Lack of sleep can trigger migraines. Make sure you’re getting enough rest.

10. Avoid Known Triggers: Common triggers include certain foods (like chocolate, cheese, and foods with MSG), alcohol, and hormonal changes.

Please remember that while these home remedies can help, they may not work for everyone. If migraines persist, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider for professional medical advice.

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Last Update: January 3, 2024