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Migraine Headaches

About 28 million Americans experience migraines, typically beginning in their 20s. Prevalence is higher in women, with 70% of those with migraines are women. Migraine affects 20% of women and 6% of men at some point in their lives. Its causes remain largely unknown.

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The following factors are associated with migraine: 

Clinical features

Prodromal symptoms that appear before the attack are: 

Symptoms  of migraine aura include:

In around 20% of patients, migraine begins with aura (previously called ‘classical’ migraine). Shimmering, silvery zigzag lines (fortification spectra) start appearing across the visual fields for up to 40 mins, sometimes. This can sometimes cause temporary blindness. Another 80% of patients suffer from migraine without aura.

Following are the characteristics of a migraine attack: 

Diagnosis: 

Doctors, particularly expert in headaches (neurologists), can diagnose migraines based on your history, clinical features, and general physical and neurological examination.

Your doctor may advise the following tests to rule out any serious underlying disease: 

  1. MRI. It can help a  doctor diagnose any tumour, stroke, bleeding in the brain, infections, and other problems. 
  2. CT scan. A series of X-rays created through a CT scan creates a detailed image of the brain.

Management

Acute attack: 

Prevention: 

Other treatment options: 

 It is important to record your migraine experience. For example, what did you eat before the migraine started, what was the weather that day, etc. This will help you learn the warning signals that trigger your migraine.

Most people can feel much better by making lifestyle changes, learning ways to relax and taking pain relievers. A migraine headache can cause intense throbbing or pulsing in one area of the head and is commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can cause significant pain for hours to days and be so severe that all you can think about is finding a dark, quiet place to lie down.

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