People often describe having a bad headache as having a migraine. But how do you know when you have a migraine? What are the symptoms of a migraine? Once you understand the symptoms of a migraine, then you can get appropriate migraine treatment.
A migraine is more than just a headache. A migraine is often accompanied by a number of different symptoms and it can be quite debilitating and really impact upon the migraine sufferer’s quality of life.
Migraines affect about 15 in every 100 people in the UK and are most common in adults aged between 20 and 50.
If you have a migraine, then the headache is an intense headache that usually occurs at the front or one side of the head, however, the area of the pain can move during an attack. The pain is usually a severe throbbing that gets worse if you move around.
You may get warning signs that a migraine is coming. These warning signs are symptoms known as “aura” and typically set in between 15 minutes and an hour before the migraine starts. These symptoms include: visual problems such as flashing lights, zig-zag patterns or blind spots; pins and needles in your neck, shoulder, arms and legs; you may feel disorientated or off balance; have difficulty speaking and in rare cases, loss of consciousness.
The most common types of migraine are “Classic Migraine”, migraine with aura and “Common Migraine”, migraine without aura.
When the migraine attack starts, you may get additional symptoms including feeling queasy and sick, often followed by vomiting; an increased sensitivity to light, sound and/or smells, poor concentration; sweating; feeling very hot or cold; stomach pains, which can cause diarrhoea and sometimes a need to urinate frequently.
If you have two or more of these symptoms, along with a severe headache, then it is likely that you are suffering from a migraine, not just a headache. Another general rule for identifying a migraine is that if the headache and/or associated symptoms prevent you from continuing your normal daily activities during an attack, but you are free of symptoms in between attacks, it is likely to be a migraine.
A migraine can last between 4 and 72 hours, but you may feel tired for days after. However, these symptoms may be caused by problems other than migraines and you should seek advice from your GP, who will be able to make a diagnosis and suggest or prescribe a suitable treatment for you.
Speed is important when it comes to migraine treatment. Taking medication as soon as you feel the aura symptoms or the migraine start, increases the likelihood of the treatment working.
Treatments include over the counter pain relief, specific migraine medication including Migraleve products and prescription only medicines.
Please share your thoughts and experiences with migraines by leaving a comment.
Read about sleep deprivation leading to migraines; Marcia Cross advocating migraine prevention; how Asprin can help alleviate migraine symptoms and how Migraine with aura can increase the risk of heart stroke.
Images: abc-of-yoga.com; homoeopathynow.com; lgassociations.info
Sources: www.nhs.uk/conditions/migraine; www.migraine.org.uk; www.bupa.co.uk