The Mechanism of Migraine
What is coming about physiologically when a migraine headache happens? It turns out the origin of a migraine headache is in the brain stem. The brain stem is a small bit above the spinal cord, but below 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 going back to the “control center”.
A few herbal remedies have been used. These include feverfew, chamomile, valerian, white willow and skullcap. These following supplements also might help individuals suffering from migraines:
- Coenzyme Q10
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B2
To conclude, 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 receiving migraine pain signals.
Migraine Compared to other Headaches
What is the difference between a migraine and a regular headache? Migraine headaches are for the most part one-sided, with concomitant nausea, reduction of appetite and vomiting. Often, light sensitivity accompanies the migraine headache. Compare this with the typical tension headache, which is distributed over the entire head. Moreover, the typical headache isn't as intense as a migraine headache. Migraine is better portrayed as a throbbing headache, whereas a tension headache merely has a dull, constant ache.
Different Types of Migraines
There are regular migraines and classic migraines. Classic migraines begin with a “aura” that involves changes in visual perception. The auras go on approximately 10-30 minutes and are associated with flashing lights and/or colors, and maybe a temporary loss of vision. You might feel a burning or peculiar prickly feeling, and maybe 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. But then, a common migraine lasts longer than a classic one, and may interfere more extensively with your typical activities.
The following is an incomplete directory of migraine symptoms:
- Auras (light spots)
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Intense pain in the head
- Difficulty in speaking
- Throbbing or pulsing headache (largely unilateral)
Migraine attacks frequently recur, and the symptoms will vary from person to person.
Some environmental triggers seem to produce 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 cause migraine headaches. The reason why foods like cheese, chocolates and alcohols can cause migraines is the occurrence of amines that act on the vascular system by triggering venal constriction through release of catecholamines.
There is an extensive range of treatments for migraines. They vary from medications similar to the triptans (sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, frovatriptan) to consuming healthful foodstuffs, to precluding particular stressful lifestyles to relaxation techniques. Migraine headache intensity varies from one individual to the next, and no clear cut remedy currently 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.
A few non-traditional treatments have proven effective. These include chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture and biofeedback therapy. Magnetic therapy also has been used with success. Magnetic therapy causes increased electrical activity in the brain. This steps up neural conductivity which then stimulates in the brain the secretion of the hormones serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin controls moods and depression tendencies. Magnetic therapy treatment usually involves either:
- A magnetic pillow pad
- A magnetic head band
- A magnetic eye mask
A natural care technique includes using an ice pack on the back of the neck close to the base of the skull. This reduces the flow of blood to the head, resulting in less pressure in the head. Make sure there is a barrier between the ice pack and the skin, like a wet cloth.
The majority of symptoms of migraines disappear after a few days. If migraines are left untreated, however, they can induce strokes, aneurysms, permanent vision loss, and even comas.
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