What is Migraine?
Migraine is a chronic disorder characterized by moderate to severe headaches and nausea. It is believed to be a neurovascular disorder. Migraines are about three times more common in women than in men.
A typical migraine headache is unilateral (affecting one half of the head) and pulsating in nature and lasting from two to 72 hours. Approximately one-third of people who suffer from migraine headaches perceive an aura—transient visual, sensory, language, or motor disturbances signaling the migraine will soon occur.
Potential migraine triggers include:
- Allergies and allergic reactions
- Bright lights, loud noises, and certain odours or perfumes
- Physical or emotional stress
- Changes in sleep patterns or irregular sleep
- Smoking or exposure to smoke
- Skipping meals or fasting
- 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..
Symptoms of migraine can occur a while before the headache, immediately before the headache, during the headache, and after the headache. Although not all migraines are the same, typical symptoms include:
- Moderate to severe pain, usually confined to one side of the head, but switching in successive migraines
- Pulsing and throbbing head pain
- Increasing pain during physical activity
- Inability to perform regular activities due to pain
- Increased sensitivity to light and sound
- More than 50 % of the cases have a genetic predisposition.