Close to 30 million people across the US have experienced a migraine headache, and about 75 percent of them are women. The majority of these people fall between the ages of 15 and 55. For some migraine sufferers, this condition runs in the family. Since migraines are frequently misdiagnosed as a sinus or tension headache, not even half of people suffering from migraines receive the proper treatment.
Migraine Risk Factors
There are numerous risk factors that can lead to a migraine including:
People with high amounts of stress or who may be battling depression are also more susceptible to migraines, but these conditions can easily be treated.
Symptoms associated with migraines include:
Around 20 percent of people with migraines will experience aura before the onset of the pain. This means people's vision will be interrupted by wavy lines, dots, or blinking lights. There may also be between 20 and 60 minutes of blind spots before the migraine begins. Some migraine sufferers may notice a numb, tingly feeling in their arm or face or find it hard to speak. At one time, it was believed that aura was caused by the narrowing of small arteries carrying blood to parts of the brain. In reality, it is a result of the transient changes in nerve cell activity.
The pain brought about by a migraine occurs when excited brain cells prompt the trigeminal nerve to produce chemicals that aggravate blood vessels on the brain's surface and cause them to become inflamed. Then, the swollen blood vessels shoot messages of pain to the brainstem, where those signals are processed. Migraine pain is usually confined to the eye or temple regions, but it may also have a presence in the face, sinuses, jaw, or neck. When the attack is full-fledged, the head becomes overly sensitive to any type of touch. Even combing hair or shaving may pose a problem.
A physician will attempt to diagnose a migraine based on the patient's history of unique migraine symptoms, any additional headache attributes, and family history of migraines. This assessment will not uncover any organic causes of the headache. At this time, no tests exist to confirm the diagnosis of a migraine.
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