While most people experience headache in their day-to-day lives, migraine, a chronic condition, affects one in seven people, and together with other headache disorders, it is considered to be one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Despite its pervasive impact, migraine continues to be vastly under-recognised, underdiagnosed and under-treated. This World Brain Day observed every year on July 22, let us understand more about migraine.
Migraine is not life-threatening but quite disabling and hampers the quality of life. Migraine is the second most common cause of headache, affecting about 15 per cent of women and six per cent of men, Dr Jaideep Bansal, director, Department of Neurology, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, suggests.
The brain of the migraineur is particularly sensitive to environmental and sensory stimuli. Around 20-25 per cent patients may have an aura before the onset of headache. Aura may be in the form of visual disturbances with flashes of light or zigzag lines or other neurologic symptoms.
Difference between migraine and normal headache
*In migraine, headache is usually episodic. It starts with half of the head, throbbing type of headache and is associated with nausea and vomiting. Whereas common headache is generally because of stress and it affects both sides of the head and it is usually dull, stretching type of headache. This is not associated with nausea/vomiting/photophobic/sensitive to light and sound.
*A family history of migraine is the most potent and consistent risk factor for migraine, the chances increase by two-to-three-fold among relatives of people with migraine. Common headache family history is not relevant.
*In some of the patients, migraine is activated by specific triggers whereas, in common headache, there’s no such trigger.
*Migraine needs specific treatment and management whereas common headache may be managed by lifestyle modifications and some painkillers.
There are several migraine triggers, includes.
*Hormonal changes in women – Fluctuations in estrogen, such as before or during menstrual periods, pregnancy and menopause, seem to trigger headaches in many women.
*Hormonal medications – such as oral contraceptives.
*Drinks – alcohol, especially wine, and too much of coffee.
*Stress – at work or home can cause migraines.
*Sensory stimuli – Bright lights and sun glare, loud sounds. Strong smells – perfume, paint thinner.
*Sleep changes – Lack of sleep, jet lag can trigger migraines in some people.
*Physical factors – Intense physical exertion, might provoke migraines.
*Weather changes – Change of weather or barometric pressure can prompt a migraine.
*Medications – Oral contraceptives and vasodilators, such as nitroglycerin.
*Foods – Cheeses, chocolates and coffee might trigger migraines. So might skipping meals or fasting.
*Food additive– a sweetener and preservative.
Five natural ways to treat migraine
*If identified, avoid triggering factor.
*Do regular exercise and meditation and lead a healthy lifestyle.
*Take adequate night sleep. Seven to eight hours night sleep is advisable.
*Avoid fasting and physical overexertion.
*Avoid alcohol, smoking and drugs.