The Mechanism of Migraine
What is happening physiologically when a migraine headache happens? It turns out the start of a migraine headache is in the brain stem. The brain stem is a bit above the spinal cord, but beneath 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 back to the “control center”.
Migraine Versus 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, loss 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. Moreover, the common headache isn't as extensive as a migraine headache. Migraine is best portrayed as a throbbing headache, whereas a tension headache merely has a dull, constant ache.
Various Types of Migraines
There are common migraines and classic migraines. Classic migraines commence with a “aura” that involves changes in visual perception. The auras last roughly 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 unusual prickly feeling, and perhaps feel irritable and restless.
A common migraine does not involve an aura. A common migraine starts more slowly than a classic migraine and the pain may only be unilateral. However, a common migraine lasts longer than a classic one, and might interfere more extensively with your typical activities.
Particular herbal remedies have been utilized. 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
Finally, 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 non-traditional treatments have proven effective. These include chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture and biofeedback therapy. Magnetic therapy moreover has been used with success. Magnetic therapy initiates increased electrical activity in the brain. This increases 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 typically involves either:
- A magnetic pillow pad
- A magnetic head band
- A magnetic eye mask
A natural treatment method includes employing an ice pack on the back of the neck close to the base of the skull. This decreases the flow of blood to the head, resulting in reduced pressure in the head. Make sure there is a barrier between the ice pack and the skin, like a wet cloth.
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. Other triggers include anger and/or stress, not enough 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 presence of amines that act on the vascular system by causing venal constriction through release of catecholamines.
There is an extensive range of treatments for migraines. They vary from medications such as the triptans (sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, frovatriptan) to consuming healthful foodstuffs, to avoiding 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 can ease the symptoms of migraines. These include Imitrex, Maxalt, Zomig, Relpax, Midrin, and Migranal. They exert their action by inducing cerebral vasoconstriction.
The following is an incomplete directory of migraine symptoms:
- Auras (light spots)
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Serious pain in the head
- Difficulties in speaking
- Throbbing or pulsing headache (generally unilateral)
Migraine attacks often recur, and the symptoms will vary from person to person.
The majority of symptoms of migraines disappear after a few days. Providing migraines are left untreated, yet, they could induce strokes, aneurysms, permanent vision loss, and even comas.
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