NEED YOUR HEAD EXAMINED?
There are all kinds of headaches. Cluster, allergy, sinus, tension and many more. But none is as potentially devastating as the monster headache – the migraine. Do you or a loved one suffer from a headache accompanied by seeing things, nausea, light and sound sensitivity? Then please don’t be offended, but you may need to have your head examined. Those nasty symptoms could be caused by a migraine.
DON’T MESS AROUND WITH MIGRAINES
National Headache Awareness Week is in June and is dedicated to awareness of all types of headaches. In this article, we’ll focus strictly on migraines. They can have a disturbing impact on one’s life, and the lives of those surrounding the migraine sufferer. Migraines tend to run in families, so if someone in your family gets migraines, there is a likely chance that others could also suffer from migraines.
Migraines affect 37 million people, primarily those between the ages of 15 and 55. According to the National Institutes of Health, migraines cost U.S. employers about $13 billion a year due to missed workdays and impaired work function. Even though 70-80% of migraine sufferers have a family history of migraines, less than 25% of people have received a diagnosis of migraine headaches. This number is important because help is available for those suffering from migraines.
THE FIRST THING TO UNDERSTAND IS THE SYMPTOMS. BEFORE A MIGRAINE ATTACK A PERSON MAY FEEL:
DURING A MIGRAINE ATTACK A PERSON USUALLY EXPERIENCES:
- Drowsy or depressed
- Irritable or tense
- Lack of well-being or surge of energy
- Talkative or restless
A migraine can last 4-72 hours, usually occurs on one side of the head
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Pale facial color
- Pulsing pain
- Scalp tenderness or pressure
- Sensitivity to light or sounds
- Sweating or cold hands
and is aggravated by activity.
MIGRAINE AURA – IT’S FOR REAL
One of the classic signs of a migraine is an aura. Not every migraine sufferer experiences auras, but an aura is a sure sign of a migraine. What is an aura? It’s been described as:
WHEN THE MIGRAINE IS GONE, THE AURA LEAVES WITH IT.
- Sensory issues such as a feeling of pins and needles or numbness
- Speech issues such as having a hard time putting words together
- Visual issues such as flickering lights, spots, lines or vision loss
SEE A DOCTOR FOR MIGRAINE
Thankfully, there are a variety of treatments available, many of which are only available with a prescription. This is why a doctor’s visit is so important. Treatment is highly individualized so what works for you, may not work for your sibling, or vice versa. Here are a few options that work for migraine sufferers:
New drugs are being approved as their efficacy is proven. Right now, a pain-relieving gel is in the pipeline for treating migraines. It appears safe and effective and may provide another prescription option for migraine sufferers.
- Over-the-counter. Some people may find relief using Excedrin® Migraine, Advil® Migraine or Motrin® Migraine Pain.
- Avoid triggers. By keeping a detailed journal, migraine sufferers may be able to spot events, foods or other factors which can trigger a migraine. Stress or caffeine are migraine triggers for many people.
- Prevention. Those who experience frequent migraines have four preventative options available by prescription. The options include propranolol (Inderal®), timolol (Blocadren®), topiramate (Topamax®) and divalproex sodium (Depakote®).
- Medication. There are a host of prescription medications available, some of which work very well for some people and not at all for others. These prescription medications include dihydroergotamine (DHE), sumatriptan (Imitrex®), almotriptan (Axert®), naratriptan (Amerge®), rizatriptan (Maxalt®), zolmitriptan (Zomig®), frovatriptan (Frova®) and eletriptan (Relpax®). The side effects vary according to the drug and the patient.
- Bio-feedback. With training, some people are able to stop attacks or lessen the severity by using relaxation and other techniques. It takes training to be able to achieve relief using bio-feedback.
There is no need to suffer through migraines. If you or someone you know is experiencing the symptoms of a migraine, please visit a trusted physician and get the help you need.