Migraine headaches cause recurrent headaches that can be debilitating. A migraine without aura is known as a common migraine while migraine with aura is called a classic migraine. Other symptoms that occur with migraines include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light or sound. Only about 1/3 of those who suffer from migraines experience aura.
Aura usually is a warning sign of an impending migraine. It lasts anywhere from 5 minutes to 60 minutes. Aura can be difficult to distinguish from other neurologic conditions. Migraine with aura symptoms can be vague or difficult to describe. Aura can be experienced differently by everyone. Aura can occur without head pain and is more common in those over the age of 50.
The symptoms of aura migraine include -
There are 4 distinct phases of migraines with aura.
Shortening the length of a migraine attack is possible. If you know the symptoms you experience in the prodromal phase, you can take steps to limit the length of time the migraine will last.
Avoiding an aura migraine can be difficult but there are some things you can do to decrease the risk of getting one. It is good to maintain consistent healthy lifestyle choices.
Migraines are more common in women than men. They are also more common in those with a family history of migraines. Factors that lead to migraines or trigger them include:
Menstrual migraines are those that occur around the same time as their period. They can start between 2 days prior and 3 days after the flow starts. These are caused by a quick drop in estrogen levels. This type of migraine can be more severe, last longer, and cause greater light sensitivity than those that occur at other times or are not related to the menstrual cycle.
Once symptoms of an oncoming migraine occur, acute treatment can be started. It is best to start at the prodromal phase. Oral medication can be taken. These include triptans and should be taken with anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Triptans are available in nasal form. Once in the middle of an attack, absorption of oral medications can be slowed and delay effects. Sumatriptan is available for injection and will provide relief within 10 minutes as it bypasses the digestive tract.
During the residual symptom phase, it is recommended you follow “headache hygiene.” This includes steps you can take to shorten your hangover phase. First, avoid the things that worsen your symptoms. For some, it is the blue light from computer or cell phone screens. Keep the lights dim and avoid loud noise. Light stretching or yoga can help. Some have a good response to caffeine intake. Ice, heat, or massage can help with relaxation.
It is a good idea to keep a headache diary. Include things such as your symptoms, prodromal, aura, details of pain, and what you feel during the postdrome phase. You can also include what type of interventions you tried to manage the migraine attack and whether they were helpful or not. Jot down any medications you took, when you took them, the dose and if they helped. Also, include any new symptoms you may have experienced with your migraine.
If you develop new symptoms that are not usual for you, call the doctor. These can be a sign of something other than a migraine.
Author Profile: Christine Kijek, Registered Colorectal Nurse
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