Migraines are nothing to be taken lightly – More than 10 million Indians are diagnosed with a migraine every year and it’s not something that goes away with a rub of a balm or a head massage. It can affect a 15 years old teenager or 60 years old woman. It is most commonly seen among women of reproductive age but the risk of a migraine decreases marginally during pregnancy.
The exact cause of a migraine headache is still unknown. It is assumed that it might be certain abnormal brain activity which is causing a temporary change in the chemicals, blood flow or the nerve signals in the brain.
A migraine is basically an instability in the way the brain deals with sensory information and this can be influenced by certain physiological changes like sleep, hunger, and exercise.
Migraine is commonly misdiagnosed as a tension-type headache or a sinus headache because of similar symptoms. If you’ve had at least 5 headaches that fit the below description then it’s more likely that you have a migraine.
1. Headaches that last for long periods of time (A migraine headache can last 4 to 72 hours).
2. The headache is at a single location and you experience pulsations.
3. If the headache is too severe.
4. If doing or avoiding certain activities like climbing the stairs makes the headache worse.
5. If you feel nauseas during the headache attack.
Apart from these, most people with migraines have an aura which is a visual disturbance often described as a temporary blind spot. In case of severe migraines, temporary loss of vision for about an hour or so can also occur. Your eyes could also start to pain because of being sensitive to light.
Depending on your age, sex, blood pressure, pre-existing medical conditions and the severity of your migraine headache, the medications that will be prescribed will vary. Apart from the prescribed medications, you can manage migraines by making a few lifestyle changes. Keep a note of all the migraine attacks, triggers such as certain food items and symptoms in a diary so that you are well prepared in advance.
Maintain a good eating and sleeping schedule; Keep yourself hydrated as this is seen a migraine trigger for a few people. Meditation and yoga are also known to help reduce migraine headaches.
The pain during a migraine attack is indescribable. It is so severe in few people that they have to lie still without any movements until the pain subsides. Some people describe it as getting beaten by a baseball bat while some say it’s like your brain is trying to force its way out of your skull. Yes, that’s how painful it is and a lot of people live with it for years. So it’s not just a headache and it never will be. The next time someone casually throws a ‘It’s just a headache’ when you have a migraine, show them this.