The Misery and Mystery of Migraine
Search the word ‘migraine’ and you will usually get a short definition of various degrees that basically defines it as a ‘sometimes recurrent headache usually on one side of the head and often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and/or sound’. That definition seems pretty simple to the layman who has never experienced the symptoms or been in the miserable grip of a days-long migraine. The true definition of migraine would be a collective account from various migraineurs and would be quite lengthy.
Most people know migraines can produce severe pain and many still see it as “just a bad headache”, but migraine is so much more. The World Health Organization has found migraine to be the most disabling neurological illness by far, ranking it in the top 20 most disabling medical conditions worldwide. Globally, 15% of people are affected by migraine. If a migraine is more than a bad headache, then what exactly is it?
With the earliest known documentation in the Ebers papyrus, around 1500 BC in ancient Egypt, the condition of migraines has been around for millenia. While treatments and theories on what causes migraines have varied greatly, one constant remains the same…pain. This is not your normal, take an over the counter medicine and feel better in a few minutes pain. The debilitating pain from a migraine, along with the many other various symptoms, can last anywhere from 4 hours to 4 days with extreme cases requiring a trip to the emergency room or even hospitalization.
Intense pain is often described as throbbing, pulsating, a vice grip, feeling like your head is going to explode or implode with pain; usually produced on one side of the head, including the eyes, sinuses, roof of mouth, ears or face. Movement often worsens the pain making it even more excruciating. Some may have nausea and vomiting to accompany the pain. Pain areas and intensity, as well as symptoms, varies from person to person. How long can a migraine last?
Other than intense head pain, other commonly reported symptoms by migraineurs around the world include…
- Senses are extremely heightened (hypersensitivity) to lights, sounds, odors, and even touch can be irritating and painful
Other symptoms besides the most common include…
- Difficulty speaking and finding words
- Numbness or tingling in the face or extremities
- Partial paralysis
- Frequent urination
- Brain fog
- Changes in heart rate and blood pressure
Other strange symptoms may include…
- Smelling things that aren’t there (ghost smells)
- Changes in sight..seeing only ½ in the line of vision
- Auras and other vision alterations (flashing lights, wavy lines, dots, blurry vision, blind spots, rainbow of color streaks)
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Hot ears
- Memory loss how to get rid of a migraine
- Tingling scalp how to get rid of a migraine
- Hair hurts how to get rid of a migraine
- Mood swings how to get rid of a migraine
- Droopy side of face how to get rid of a migraine
- Drunk feeling how to get rid of a migraine
- Restless leg how to get rid of a migraine
After many years of study and research, four stages of migraine have emerged.
- Symptoms can occur as early as 24 hours before head pain and include change in mood, ghost smells, yawning, watery eyes, and neck tension/pain.
- Usually presented 20 minutes to an hour before pain. Sufferer experiences flashing lights, wavy lines, dots, blurry vision, blind spots, rainbow of color streaks and other vision abnormalities.
- Pain usually in one or two areas of the head and/or neck that can last between 4 and 72 hours.
- Many describe this stage as a migraine hangover, with fatigue, gastro-intestinal issues, brain fog, a ‘sore brain’, and lingering head pain
The exact cause of migraine is still not well understood. However, many report triggers that may cause their episodes, although triggers can change from person to person. Some of those triggers include flashing/flickering lights, anxiety and stress, lack of food/sleep, irregular schedule, hormones, certain foods, and weather changes. The real question is why do some experience migraines in the first place? The condition is in fact considered to be neurological and medical experts do know brain chemicals, blood vessels, and nerves are involved.
Migraine specialists, like the Johns Hopkins Headache Center, now know that migraine is an inherited trait and has classified many types of migraine headaches. Hence the reason many try desperately to find the right neurologist to treat their specific kind of migraine. More About Spiritual Healing
In the past, many theories suggested symptoms were possibly due to fluctuations in blood flow to the brain. Today, it is widely accepted that chemical compounds and hormones, such as estrogen and serotonin, often play a role in pain sensitivity. Although doctors know more about migraines than they did in the past, they are still unsure of what exactly happens in the brain. The cause of migraine is sadly, after all these years, still a mystery in whole.
An article from Heathgrades.com titled “What Happens to your Brain During a Migraine” offers some hope. In the article, researchers believe some sort of trigger starts a reaction in nerve cells that once activated, their neurons send messages along from the brain stem to the face, teeth, eyes, sinuses and forehead. The blood vessels on the surface of the brain expand and dilate in response and set off a whole wave of chemical activity, causing the vessels to constrict and limit oxygen flow.
The brain then responds by releasing other chemicals called neuropeptides, including serotonin, where they travel to the outer layer of the brain (meninges) resulting in inflammation and further swelling of vessels and increased blood flow. The trigger has caused a chemical storm of activity that causes the head to feel like it is under an extreme amount of pressure, pushing from the inside out. Along with any other symptoms experienced, the result is misery. If experts could find a way to stop the reaction to the trigger, perhaps some real relief and the mystery of this monster could be found.
For now, migraineurs have to rely on prescription medications and home remedies to help get them through the migraine and all its stages. Triptans are often prescribed as rescue medicines, and although new to the market, once a month injectables are being used as a preventative option. Botox treatments, which often require over 30 tiny injections in the forehead, neck, and scalp, have also been a help in reducing the frequency and severity of episodes. Some people use ice/heat packs, consume more caffeine, apply essential oils, or take magnesium (among other home remedies) when they feel a looming attack.
Talk to any migraine sufferer and they will tell you migraine is not ‘just a headache’. Having stroke symptoms (without the actual stroke), intense debilitating pain, and feeling exhausted for days can take its toll physically and mentally. During an attack, many can’t function normally and about half of people are severely impaired. It has been found that suffering from ‘severe continuous migraine’ can be as disabling as quadriplegia! People report more difficulty working, and researchers found that people with chronic migraine face a greater stigma than those with epilepsy or episodic migraine. Wikipedia reports “In the Global Burden of Disease Study of 2010, it was ranked as the third most prevalent disorder in the world.”. Read about Spirituality
With all our modern day medicines and advanced medical breakthroughs, migraine is a condition that continues to elude science. The exact cause is in fact a mystery. To convolute matters more, triggers, symptoms, and treatments vary greatly from person to person; as does the migraine itself. The intensity and symptoms can change from episode to episode. No two people and no two migraines are exactly alike. Doctors and researchers are trying to throw a dart at an evolving rapidly moving target. Migraineurs across the globe will rejoice when this mystery is solved and the misery can come to an end. Oldest Language in The World
Migraineur (31 years)
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