FAQs About Migraines: Nagging Symptoms and Viable Treatments

The most frequently asked questions about Migraine answered in easy to understand language. A quick guide on migraine for the layman.

How do I know whether this is a migraine?

This is the most common question most people are unsure about the diagnosis of migraines. Though all migraines are headaches, all headaches are not migraines. There can be many causes like high blood pressure, cervical spondylosis, and poor eyesight being a few. So everyone with headaches should not think he is suffering from migraines. The broad criterion of diagnosis is if you have two or more of the following symptoms during an attack it is probable you are suffering from migraine:

a. Throbbing headache, often on one side of the head only.

b. Visual disturbances (blink spots, distorted vision, flashing lights, or zigzag patterns) these symptoms are often called aura.

c. Nausea and vomiting or diarrhea.

d. Increased sensitivity to light.

e. Increase sensitivity to sounds.

The second general rule is that if a headache and other associated symptoms prevent you from continuing with daily activities it could be a migraine.

What are the common triggers?

Migraine is believed to be caused by the release of a chemical called serotonin or 5HT into the bloodstream from its storage sites in the body, resulting in changes in neurotransmitters and blood vessels in the brain. Exactly what causes this to happen is still not clear: However certain factors have been identified which can trigger attacks in susceptible people:

a. Emotional stress, e.g., anger, worry, shock, depression.

b. Physical exertion like overexertion/tiredness change in sleep patterns and traveling.

c. Hormonal changes like menstruation and premenstrual period, puberty, menopause.

d. Environmental like light, loud noise, intense smells, change or climate or smoking

e. Diet like lack of food or infrequent meals, specific foods like chocolate, citrus fruits, cheese, alcohol, especially red wine.

f. Other triggers like the use of sleeping tablets high blood pressure, toothache or other dental problems, eyestrain, congested nose, and sinus problems.

Migraine triggers are numerous and varied and occur in combinations peculiar to an individual. For most, there is not just one trigger but a combination. These can be tolerated individually but when several occur together, a threshold is passed and an attack is triggered. Identifying and avoiding personal trigger factors can help.

If one of my parents suffers from migraines, is it necessary that I will also have it?

Though it has been seen that migraine does run in families, it is not necessary that children of migraine patients will also have it. Nor this is true the other way round. People often say that since nobody in the family had migraines, they cannot have. This is also not true. It is possible for people to have migraines even when nobody in the family has them.

Migraine is difficult to cure?

Migraine is very much a curable disease like any other disease.