A classic migraine typically commences with an "aura", which is involved with changes in the way a person sees.An aura typically lasts 20-30 minutes, during which time one might see colors and flashing lights, and sometimes a temporary loss of vision.

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What is happening physiologically when a migraine headache occurs? It turns out the origin of a migraine headache is in the brain stem. This brain stem is a 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 back to the “control center”.

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There is a broad range of treatments for migraines. They range from medications like the triptans (sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, frovatriptan) to consuming healthful foodstuffs to avoiding certain stressful lifestyles to relaxation techniques. Migraine headache intensity varies from one individual to the next, and no unified remedy currently exists.

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What is the difference between a migraine and a regular headache? Migraine headaches are generally one-sided, with concomitant nausea, loss of appetite and vomiting. Often, light sensitivity accompanies the migraine headache. Contrast this with the common tension headache, which is distributed over the entire head. Also, the common headache is not as severe as a migraine headache. Migraine is better described as a throbbing headache, whereas a tension headache only has a dull, constant ache.

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