Neurology: Migraine

Migraine is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent moderate to severe headaches to one half of head with nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and noise. They generally last between four hours and three days. Migraine headaches, which are often misdiagnosed as sinus or tension headaches, are severe enough to interfere with sleep, work, and other everyday activities. They may occur as often as several times per week or as rarely as once or twice a year. It is most common among people age 25 to 55, though it can affect children and teens as well. Migraine is about three times more prevalent in women than men; roughly one in five women and one in 16 men suffer from migraine.

Types:

  • Migraine with aura - when there is a warning sign, known as aura, before the migraine begins. About a third of people with migraine have this. Warning signs may include visual problems (such as flashing lights) and stiffness in the neck, shoulders or limbs.
  • Migraine without aura
  • Migraine without headache - also known as silent migraine, is when an aura or other migraine symptoms are experienced, but a headache does not develop.

Causes: Some people who suffer from migraines can clearly identify triggers or factors that cause the headaches, but many cannot. Potential migraine triggers include:

  • Allergies and allergic reactions
  • Bright lights, loud noises, and certain odors or perfumes
  • Physical or emotional stress
  • Changes in sleep patterns or irregular sleep
  • Smoking or exposure to smoke
  • Skipping meals or fasting
  • Alcohol
  • Menstrual cycle fluctuations, birth control pills, hormone fluctuations during menopause onset
  • Tension headaches
  • Foods containing tyramine (red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken livers, figs, and some beans), monosodium glutamate (MSG), or nitrates (like bacon, hot dogs, and salami)
  • Other foods such as chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, avocado, banana, citrus, onions, dairy products, and fermented or pickled foods.

    Triggers do not always cause migraines, and avoiding triggers does not always prevent migraines.

Note: We are giving only a brief description of each disease for your quick reference with some best related photographs where needed.