Migraine

Definition:
Migraines cause pain and other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness, and fatigue. They are usually characterized as frequent, recurrent headaches that vary in intensity, location, and duration. Most migraine headaches affect one area of the head and last several hours. It is possible, however, for pain to last a few days and be felt in more than one area of the brain. Some migraines produce sensory warning signs called auras, which can cause auditory and visual disturbances. Treatments for chronic migraines vary depending on the patient’s condition and their possible triggers. 

Causes:
While the cause of migraines is still unknown, many researchers believe chemical imbalances in the brain lead to migraine headaches. Migraines can also arise from various environmental factors, such as bright lights, smells, allergies, and changes in barometric pressure. Additionally, genetics, food additives, hormonal changes, medications, alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, stress, sleep pattern changes, and physical activity can all trigger a migraine. Patients may be asked to document their symptoms in a headache journal to help pinpoint the exact cause or trigger of their migraine.  

Symptoms:
Chronic migraine is a complex condition that produces a number of painful symptoms. Generally speaking, most migraines produce an intense, throbbing pain in one area of the head, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, lightheadedness, and sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells. As mentioned previously, migraines can also produce auras, which are visual and auditory disturbances that develop 20 to 60 minutes before an actual migraine takes place. Examples of aura include seeing bright spots or flashing lights, temporarily losing vision in one or both eyes, feeling numbness or tingling in the arms or legs, or experiencing speech problems. Patients with headache pain that is accompanied by a fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, or difficulty speaking should seek immediate medical attention. 

Treatments:
Although there is no cure for migraines, the providers at TriState Pain Institute can recommend treatments to help keep their frequency and intensity under control. A combination of preventative, pain-relieving, and anti-nausea medications may be prescribed to help patients combat symptoms. Additionally, injections such as Botox and nerve blocks could be used to reduce pain. 

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