There are triggers and warning signs that one notices through the battle with migraine, but there is no known definitive cause. All you can do is understand what triggers your migraine and avoid them.

It might seem like a losing battle, but there are some tricks to stay ahead of the pain.


Understanding A Migraine


A migraine is a prevalent neurological condition that manifests through various symptoms, with the most notable being a throbbing, pulsating headache typically affecting one side of the head. Physical activity, and exposure to lights, sounds, or smells can exacerbate the intensity of the migraine.


These episodes last for a minimum of four hours, and in some cases, persist for days. Migraines are often accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and heightened sensitivity to light and sound. The intensity of the pain can be so severe that it significantly hinders normal daily activities.


Causes for Migraine


While headache is the common factor, no two people experience a migraine the same way. This is probably because researchers are yet to find the root cause of migraines. There are triggers and warning signs that one notices through the battle with migraine, but there is no known definitive cause. All you can do is understand what triggers your migraine and avoid them.


Migraine Triggers


Migraine triggers can vary from person to person, but here are some common triggers that can potentially induce migraines:


  • Stress

    Emotional or physical stress can trigger migraines in many individuals. This includes stress from work, relationships, or major life events.

  • Hormonal changes

    Fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly in women, can contribute to migraines. This includes hormonal changes during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, or menopause.

  • Certain foods

    Certain foods and beverages are known to trigger migraines in some individuals, such as aged cheeses, chocolate, alcohol (especially red wine), processed meats, and foods containing additives like monosodium glutamate (MSG).

  • Skipping meals

    Irregular meal patterns, fasting, or skipping meals can trigger migraines due to changes in blood sugar levels

  • Environmental factors

    Sensitivity to environmental factors like strong smells (perfumes, smoke, chemicals), bright or flickering lights, loud noises, or changes in weather patterns (barometric pressure changes) can function as triggers for migraines.

  • Sleep patterns

    Lack of sleep, irregular sleep schedules, or excessive sleep can trigger migraines in some people.

  • Physical exertion

    Strenuous physical activity or intense exercise, especially if it is sudden or not part of the regular routine, can trigger migraines.

  • Caffeine

    While caffeine can provide temporary relief for some individuals, excessive consumption or sudden withdrawal can trigger migraines in others.

  • Medications

    Certain medications, such as vasodilators or hormonal medications, can contribute to migraines as a side effect.


    It is important to note that triggers can be individualized, and not everyone will experience migraines from the same triggers. Identifying and avoiding personal triggers can be helpful in managing migraines and reducing their frequency or severity.

The Migraine Aura


In certain individuals, migraines may be preceded or accompanied by what is known as an Aura, which is a temporary symptom that affects the nervous system and can last up to 60 minutes. While they commonly manifest as visual disturbances, they can also encompass other sensory disruptions.


Here are some examples of migraine auras:


– Vision Distortion or Loss


These may involve perceiving various shapes, bright spots, or flashes of light in the visual field. In extreme cases, some individuals may experience temporary loss of vision or partial blindness during an aura.


– Tingling sensation


Some people experience “pins and needles” sensations in their arms or leg, often on one side of the body.


– Weakness or numbness


Auras can cause weakness or numbness, typically affecting the face or one side of the body.


– Difficulty speaking


Some people may experience challenges with speech or language such as stuttering or confusion, during a migraine aura.


Migraine Symptoms


Migraines can manifest through a range of symptoms that can vary from person to person. Here are some common migraine symptoms:


  • Headache

    The hallmark symptom of a migraine is a moderate to severe headache, often pulsating or throbbing, typically on one side of the head. However, some individuals may experience headaches on both sides or throughout the head.

  • Sensitivity to stimuli

    Migraine sufferers often become sensitive to external stimuli, such as bright lights (photophobia), loud sounds (phonophobia), or strong odours (osmophobia).

  • Nausea and vomiting

    Many people with migraines experience nausea, sometimes accompanied by vomiting or an upset stomach.

  • Aura

    As mentioned earlier, some individuals may experience visual disturbances or other sensory changes known as auras before or during a migraine. These can include seeing flashing lights, zigzag lines, blind spots, or experiencing tingling sensations in the limbs.

  • Fatigue and lethargy

    Migraines can leave individuals feeling drained, tired, and lacking energy even after the headache subsides.

  • Cognitive difficulties

    Referred to as “brain fog,” migraines can cause difficulties with concentration, memory, and overall cognitive function.

  • Neck stiffness

    Some people experience stiffness and tension in the neck and shoulder muscles during a migraine episode.

  • Increased thirst and frequent urination

    Some individuals may notice increased thirst and more frequent trips to the bathroom during a migraine attack.

The Silent Attack


A Silent Migraine is when you can have any of the above-mentioned symptoms, often more than one, but you do not feel pain! While a throbbing headache is the classic symptom of a migraine, some individuals have migraine episodes without pain at all. However, this does not mean it is an altogether pleasant experience.


Here are some ways silent migraines can affect the body:


  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sore neck and jaw
  • Vertigo
  • Hot flashes and Chills
  • Sensitivity to light, motions, or smell

Ocular Migraines


An ocular migraine, also known as a retinal migraine or visual migraine, is a specific type of migraine that primarily affects vision. It is characterized by temporary visual disturbances or changes that typically occur in one eye. These visual symptoms can be alarming but usually resolve on their own within a short period, typically less than an hour. Here are some key features of an ocular migraine:


  • Visual disturbances: The primary symptom of an ocular migraine is temporary visual disturbances. These can include:
    • Scintillations or shimmering lights: Individuals may experience the perception of flashing or flickering lights, similar to seeing stars or sparkles.
    • Blind spots: Some people may develop blind spots or areas of decreased vision in one eye. This can be described as a grey or dark area in the visual field.
    • Zigzag lines: Many individuals report seeing zigzag or wavy lines that move across their visual field.
    • Tunnel vision: It is possible to experience a narrowing of the visual field as if looking through a tunnel.
    • Blurred vision: Vision may become blurry or hazy during an ocular migraine episode.
  • Unilateral occurrence: Ocular migraines typically affect only one eye, although in rare cases, both eyes can be involved in separate episodes.
  • Temporary duration: The visual disturbances associated with ocular migraines are usually short-lived, ranging from a few minutes to less than an hour. After the episode resolves, vision usually returns to normal.
  • Absence of headache: Unlike typical migraines, ocular migraines do not always involve a headache. In fact, some individuals may experience visual symptoms without any accompanying head pain.
  • Trigger factors: Ocular migraines can be triggered by several factors, including stress, certain foods or beverages, hormonal changes, lack of sleep, or specific visual stimuli.

Migraine Treatment


The treatment of migraines typically involves a combination of lifestyle changes, preventive measures, and symptom management. The specific approach may vary depending on the severity and frequency of migraines as well as individual factors. Here are some common treatment options:


  • Lifestyle modifications: Making certain lifestyle changes can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. These may include:
    • Establishing a regular sleep schedule.
    • Managing stress through relaxation techniques, exercise, or therapy.
    • Identifying and avoiding potential triggers such as certain foods, beverages, or environmental factors.
    • Maintaining a healthy diet and staying well-hydrated.
    • Regular physical exercise.
  • Abortive medications: When it comes to abortive medications for migraines, their effectiveness is highest when taken at the initial indication of a migraine. It is advisable to use them when the pain is still mild. By potentially halting the progression of the headache, these medications aid in stopping or reducing migraine symptoms such as pain, nausea, sensitivity to light, and more.
  • Certain abortive medications function by constricting blood vessels, restoring them to their normal state and alleviating the pulsating pain. For more severe migraines, prescription medications specifically designed for migraines, such as triptans, may be recommended. These medications work by constricting blood vessels and reducing inflammation in the brain.
  • Preventive medications: If migraines are frequent or severe, preventive medications may be prescribed. These medications are taken regularly, even when not experiencing a migraine, to reduce the frequency and intensity of attacks. Common preventive medications include beta-blockers, anticonvulsants, tricyclic antidepressants, and certain blood pressure medications.

CONSULTANT - NEUROLOGY at Dr.Kamakshi Memorial Hospitals
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