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Migraine: what é, symptoms, causes, remedies édios (and more)

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Migraine: what é, symptoms, causes, remedies édios (and more)
Migraine: what é, symptoms, causes, remedies édios (and more)

Migraine is a chronic neurological condition that causes moderate to severe headache in addition to other symptoms such as general malaise, nausea, vomiting, body tingling and sensitivity to light.

Migraine pain is more common in women and, although it can start as early as childhood, it is more common in adulthood. Migraine can appear at any time, but tends to be stimulated by specific situations, such as sleeping poorly, being on PMS or having eaten some type of food.

Migraine is different from common headache, having different causes and specific characteristics. See the main types of headache, how to identify and treat each one.


Main symptoms

The most characteristic symptom of migraine is the onset of an intense, throbbing headache that tends to affect only one side, but can also occur on both sides of the head.

In addition, other classic migraine symptoms such as:

  • General malaise;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Dizziness;
  • Body tingling;
  • Sensitivity to light and/or noise.

Migraine pain usually lasts for several hours, gets worse with body movement and radiates to the face and neck, which ends up making daily activities difficult.

Some people may also show signs that a migraine attack is coming. These signs appear 1 to 2 days before the attack and, although they can vary from one person to another, they usually include cravings for a specific food, excessive tiredness and without apparent cause, irritability or stiff neck.

Migraine with aura

Migraine with aura is a condition that can appear a few minutes before the classic symptoms and is characterized by changes in vision, such as the presence of a whitish cloud and even small bright spots in the field of vision.

In some cases, migraine with aura may occur without the person then experiencing the characteristic pain of migraine.

Chronic Migraine

Chronic migraine is a relatively rare condition in which the symptoms of a migraine attack persist for more than 15 days. Although not life-threatening, chronic migraine can seriously affect daily activities and quality of life, and treatment with a neurologist should therefore be sought to alleviate symptoms.

Stages of migraine attack

Most migraine attacks develop in 4 different stages:

1. Prodrome

It happens 1 to 2 days before the onset of classic migraine symptoms and can be identified with changes in energy levels, as well as changes in mood, behavior and appetite.

2. Aura

Tends to appear immediately before the headache, 5 minutes to 1 hour before, and is characterized by changes in vision, especially the appearance of a white cloud around field of view, as well as bright spots.

3. Migraine attack

This is the acute phase of migraine, where the intense headache and all the other classic symptoms appear. This phase can last from 3 hours to 3 days.

4. Postdrome

Occurs when symptoms begin to disappear and is described as a "hangover" period, in which excessive tiredness appears for a few days.

How to diagnose migraine

There is no specific exam to diagnose migraine, for this reason it is very important to consult a neurologist whenever there is a suspicion.

To help with the diagnosis, the neurologist may ask questions related to symptoms such as:

  • Does the pain affect one or both sides of the head?
  • Is it a throbbing pain, as if the heartbeat is in the head?
  • Does pain prevent you from carrying out normal daily activities?
  • Does the pain get worse with body movement?
  • How long, on average, does the pain last?
  • Is there sensitivity to light or noise?
  • Is the pain accompanied by other symptoms?

In addition, the doctor can also investigate whether there is any situation that seems to trigger the migraine attack, as well as analyze the medications that may be being used.

The ideal is to keep a "migraine diary", where the characteristics of each attack are recorded, and then inform the doctor and facilitate the diagnosis.

Causes of migraine

The exact causes of migraine are not yet known, but it is possible that migraine arises from abnormal activity at the brain level, which affects nerve signals as well as the activity of various neurotransmitters.

Although there is no specific cause, several situations have been identified that seem to favor the onset of crises, such as:

  • Hormonal changes;
  • Changes in sleep pattern;
  • Intense physical activity;
  • Stress and anxiety;
  • Dehydration;
  • Prolonged use of medication;
  • Quick weather changes.

Consumption of certain foods also seems to be a factor that can contribute to the onset of migraine attacks in some people. Foods most at risk of causing migraine are, for example, pepper, coffee, alcoholic beverages, chocolate or citrus fruits.

Menstrual migraine

Menstrual migraine is one that occurs 2 days before to 3 days after menstruation and is caused by the hormonal changes that occur in the woman's body during this period. In addition to a severe headache, other common signs of PMS can also appear, such as increased fluid retention, irritability, cramps and breast pain.

Migraine in pregnancy

Because it is a period of great hormonal changes, pregnancy can also trigger more frequent migraine attacks, especially during the 1st trimester. This type of migraine tends to improve after the 2nd trimester and usually disappears in the 3rd trimester.

How the treatment is done

There is no cure for migraine, but there are different types of treatment that help relieve symptoms, reducing the time of each attack:

Migraine Remedies

The most commonly used remedies to relieve symptoms and treat migraine attacks are:

  • Anti-inflammatories and pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen;
  • Triptanes, such as naratriptan or zolmitriptan;
  • Antiemetics, such as metoclopramide;
  • Corticoids, such as prednisone or dexamethasone.

These medications must always be prescribed by the neurologist, as the type of medication to be used, as well as the dose, vary according to the symptoms presented and their intensity.

Rest and relaxation techniques

Rest in a dark place with little stimulation is one of the best natural ways to relieve symptoms. In addition, sleep also seems to be very helpful in dealing with a migraine attack.

Some people may still experience a decrease in the intensity of symptoms with the use of relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga or massage:

Acupuncture for Migraines

Some studies done with acupuncture in the treatment of migraine show that doing 10 sessions over a period of 5 to 8 weeks can be a great way to relieve the symptoms of a migraine attack.

Food for Migraines

During the crisis, it is recommended to follow a diet adapted to migraine, with easily digestible foods that have anti-inflammatory properties and improve blood circulation, such as fish, ginger or chestnuts, for example.

It is also important to avoid eating all foods with the potential to worsen the crisis, such as coffee, caffeinated teas, industrialized products or citrus fruits.

Natural treatment for migraine

Natural treatment for migraine is based on the use of medicinal plants to relieve symptoms or prevent the emergence of new attacks. Plants can be ingested as a food supplement, but also as teas, although regular use of supplements has a greater effect.

Some plants that have been shown to work against migraines are ginger, valerian or tannin. Ideally, the natural treatment of migraine should be guided by a phytotherapist, a doctor or another professional accustomed to the use of medicinal plants, since it is important to adapt the plants to the symptoms presented.

How to prevent the onset of a migraine attack

A widely used way to try to prevent the onset or, at least, reduce the frequency of migraine attacks is to use prophylactic medication, such as Lisinopril, Propranolol or Topiramate. These remedies must be indicated by the neurologist and may take up to 3 months to show the expected effect.

However, as the drugs can have several side effects, the doctor may also suggest adopting some precautions that seem to help prevent migraine:

  • Avoid situations that tend to trigger a migraine attack;
  • Exercise regularly, at least 3 to 5 times a week, and for 30 minutes;
  • Stay well hydrated throughout the day by drinking the recommended amount of water;
  • Having a he althy and balanced diet, with few industrialized products;
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation;
  • Sleep at least 8 hours a night.

In addition, new therapies are being studied to help prevent migraine, such as the application of botox or vagus nerve stimulation, for example. Thus, it is always recommended to consult a neurologist to find out the best plan of action.

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