The incurable pain of migraine

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Migraine Disease

Anyone who has ever got a migraine is aware of the reactions people receive. They are three kinds – one is of extreme sympathy. This person is aware what migraines are, he/she probably has someone in their family or friend circle that has it or maybe they themselves have it. The second is that of confusion. What exactly is migraine? And lastly, one of extreme indifference; it is just a headache right?

No it’s not! Many people are unaware the true implications of this ailment whose cause is unknown and is incurable (except for a short period of time). The leading health network ‘Healthline’ defines migraine as “… a disorder characterized by several attacks of severe headache. A migraine headache causes throbbing or pulsating pain usually on only one side of the head.” This definition is actually an understatement. It fails to describe the intensity and the intolerability of this pain. It fails to cover the absolute incapability to do anything because of it – even sleep! It also doesn’t include that migraines are almost always accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to heat and light. They can last up to three days and can range from being very frequent to maybe once or twice a year.

Although the main cause for migraine is unknown, many doctors have identified several ‘triggers’ that can help those suffering from migraine to avoid it. Some of the most common are:

  • An excess of caffeine, chocolate, wine.
  • Irregular sleep patterns or over – sleeping.
  • Over – exposure of the sun.
  • Bright lights.
  • Loud noise.
  • Over – anxiety, stress.
  • Hormonal changes (especially in women).
  • Strong odours – cigarette smoke or perfumes.
  • Over – exhaustion.
  • Obesity.
  • Long bouts of hunger.
  • Severe acidity.
  • Insufficient intake of water.
  • Changes in barometric pressure.
  • Aged cheese.
  • Excessive intake of processed foods.
  • Genes – more often than not, migraines are passed from generation to generation.
  • The rates of migraines are higher in boys at a young age. However, at puberty there is a switch. More than 70% of the adult sufferers are women.
  • Over – use of medications.
  • Magnesium deficiency.
  • Excessive intake of maida (processed pasta, noodles etc)

There are various types of migraine; the two major and the most common are – migraine and chronic migraine. Other types include Hemiplegic migraines and Opthalmic migraines. These migraines however, are extremely rare and severe. The former can even lead to temporary paralysis or a disturbance in speech or vision. The latter usually consists of varied spots of blindness and usually occurs when a migraine is about to begin.

As migraines usually begin solely with a headache, it is difficult to distinguish between an actual attack of migraine and a simple headache. In most cases, patients who have already been diagnosed with a migraine (whether clinically or via C.T. Scan) all headaches are considered to be potential onsets. Here are a few symptoms which almost always turn into migraines:

  • When it just on one side of the head.
  • An experience of aura which usually consists of flickering lights etc.  These usually last between five minutes to an hour and take place about an hour before the actual migraine begins.
  • Feeling down or excited for no reason.
  • Not getting sleep.
  • Burning or watery or painful eyes.
  • Stuffy nose. (90% of sinus headaches are actually migraines)
  • Feeling hungry.
  • The pain is equivalent to someone hitting your head with a hammer.
  • Neck pain.
  • Feeling like urinating all time. (Especially immediately after urinating once)
  • Excessive yawning.
  • Numbness in one’s fingers or a slight tingling sensation.
  • Feeling nauseated.
  • Inability to smell or see anything strong or to do any physical activity.
  • Interrupted speech.
  • Weakness, fatigue and dizziness.
  • Vertigo, double – vision.

However serious the implications may be, there is absolutely no cure available. Usually, doctors advise to take a pill at its onset or prescribe medication for a few days. These are not long lasting and the only thing one can do is take rest. This ‘rest’ isn’t always helpful, although if taken at the onset it can help in reducing the severity of the headache. One’s safest bet is to avoid the triggers mentioned above. There are a few things that could help to lower the frequency and the intensity –

  • Avoid staying hungry for more than two hours.
  • Water, lots of it.
  • Light exercise for at least half an hour, five times a week.
  • Yoga combined with meditation.
  • Green tea.
  • Regular eating and sleeping habits. When you’re sleepy, just sleep. Avoid late – nights.
  • Ice – cream. (Especially those candy ones without the vanilla filling. This is from personal experience!)
  • Fruits.
  • Do not go out in the heat unless requires.
  • Soft music.
  • During winter and windy days, cover your ears and nose with a scarf/shawl. Intake of air during these days causes headaches.
  • Avoid looking into TV/ Laptop/ Computer screens.
  • Reduce the brightness of your phone. And avoid checking your phone in the middle of the night. The light affects your eyes and can cause a prolonged migraine.
  • Trying to have a stress- free environment.

Despite the increasing number of people suffering from migraine, there seems to be little or no awareness about its ramifications. People usually have the tendency to ignore headaches or simply pop a pill. We live in an era where stress- free surroundings no longer exist. With ever increasing frustration from both work and on the personal level, people are prone to such ailments. Moreover, bad lifestyle habits further increase the chances of getting migraines. It is not too late to change. Simple ways like exercising and meditation are helpful in combating many diseases. One only has to make an effort.