The Mechanism of Migraine
What is coming about physiologically if a migraine headache takes place? It appears the start of a migraine headache is in the brain stem. The brain stem is a bit above the spinal cord, but underneath the cortex of the brain. The migraine “control center” in the brain stem emits signals to the blood vessels lining the brain, requesting these blood vessels to dilate and expand. In the process, pain signals are sent returning to the “control center”.
Some herbal remedies have been used. These include feverfew, chamomile, valerian, white willow and skullcap. These following supplements also should help individuals suffering from migraines:
- Coenzyme Q10
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B2
Lastly, some other remedies include extra magnesium in one's diet, regular physical exercise, and relaxation techniques like yoga or transcendental meditation. Recently, a new form of migraine treatment called Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) has been developed. TENS sends a mild shock of electricity, preventing the body from obtaining migraine pain signals.
Certain alternative treatments have proven effective. These include chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture and biofeedback therapy. Magnetic therapy in addition has been used with success. Magnetic therapy initiates increased electrical activity in the brain. This increases neural conductivity which then stimulates within the brain the secretion of the hormones serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin controls moods and depression tendencies. Magnetic therapy treatment typically involves either:
- A magnetic pillow pad
- A magnetic head band
- A magnetic eye mask
A natural care technique includes utilizing an ice pack on the back of the neck close to the base of the skull. This lessens the flow of blood to the head, resulting in diminished pressure in the head. Make sure there is a barrier between the ice pack and the skin, such as a wet cloth.
Specific environmental triggers seem to initiate a migraine attack. These triggers include certain foods, stressful lifestyles, and exposure to bright lights or loud sounds. Commonly, a few foods such as red wine, cheese, chocolate, meats cured with nitrates, and MSG might induce migraine headaches. More triggers include anger and/or stress, too little sleep, menstruation, and weather changes. Withdrawal from caffeine and ergotamines can also trigger migraine headaches. The rationale why foods like cheese, chocolates and alcohols can cause migraines is the occurrence of amines that act on the vascular system by causing venal constriction through release of catecholamines.
There is a broad range of treatments for migraines. They vary from medications like the triptans (sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, frovatriptan) to consuming healthful foodstuffs, to precluding some stressful lifestyles to relaxation techniques. Migraine headache intensity varies from one individual to the next, and no clear cut remedy at this moment exists.
A few prescription medications are able to ease the symptoms of migraines. These include Imitrex, Maxalt, Zomig, Relpax, Midrin, and Migranal. They exert their action by inducing cerebral vasoconstriction.
The ensuing is an incomplete listing of migraine symptoms:
- Auras (light spots)
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Severe pain in the head
- Difficulty in speaking
- Throbbing or pulsing headache (generally unilateral)
Migraine attacks frequently recur, and the symptoms will vary from person to person.
Migraine Compared to other Headaches
What is the difference between a migraine and a regular headache? Migraine headaches are primarily one-sided, with concomitant nausea, decrease of appetite and vomiting. Often, light sensitivity accompanies the migraine headache. Contrast this with the typical tension headache, which is distributed over the entire head. In addition, the common headache isn't as severe as a migraine headache. Migraine is better portrayed as a throbbing headache, whereas a tension headache only has a dull, constant ache.
Several Types of Migraines
There are normal migraines and classic migraines. Classic migraines begin with a “aura” that involves changes in visual perception. The auras last close to 10-30 minutes and are associated with flashing lights and/or colors, and perhaps a temporary loss of vision. You could feel a burning or curious prickly feeling, and possibly feel irritable and restless.
A common migraine doesn't involve an aura. A common migraine begins slower than a classic migraine and the pain may only be unilateral. However, a common migraine lasts longer than a classic one, and could interfere more extensively with your normal activities.
Most symptoms of migraines disappear after a few days. If migraines are left untreated, however, they may induce strokes, aneurysms, permanent vision loss, and even comas.
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