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Understand your Headache

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MIGRAINE

A condition marked by recurring moderate to severe headache with throbbing pain that usually lasts four hours to 3 days. Typically begins on one side of the head but may spread to both sides and is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light or sound {Merriam Webster dictionary]

Some migraines occur without a warning, but most are often preceded by an aura.

What then is an aura?

AURA

In the gray quiet I see a zigzag of blue, yellow, orange. I see bright dots scattered here and there. They are beautiful. They are a welcome sight in this grey. I could reach out and touch each of them, walk the whole extent of the room till I see the ends of the blurry multi-colored zigzag. But I can’t. These things are non-existent, and beautiful as it is, I can’t enjoy, it means I am about to get the misery headache, a MIGRAINE.

Aura is the slice of heaven I experience before the hell of a migraine. It is a different experience for different migraine sufferers. For others it is chaos; visual chaos, cascading, distortion, melting, dots spots. All in bright colors never in grey!

Others don’t see, they feel things creeping up their fingers or legs. Others still hear strange sounds, feel strange smells or lose sensation in some parts of their bodies.

This usually happens an hour before all hell breaks loose.

Then the pain comes, usually one sided, pulsating. It does feel like a really fat man in a long sharp stiletto stepping on your head then stepping away, your head then away. It is as if he is responding to some rhythm.

It is usually one of those moments when your life ceases momentarily, and all you think of is the pain

WHAT CAUSES A MIGRAINE?

Sadly, the underlying cause of a migraine is not known; however, the following are the risk factors

  1. Female gender
  2. Genetics- migraines tend to run in families
  3. Triggers- here are some of the triggers;
  4. Stress
  5. Sleep- excess sleep or sleep deprivation
  • Drugs –estrogens , nitroglycerin
  1. Coffee withdrawal
  2. Hormonal changes – some females have attacks during their menses
  3. Red wine – (oh no ?!)
  • Chocolates ( poor soul?)

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

The symptoms of a migraine present in stages/phases

  1. Prodromal phase-this is a sort of a premonition phase characterized by
  2. Altered mood
  3. Depression or euphoria
  • Cravings for certain foods
  1. Sensitivity to smells or noise
  2. Aura phase- occurs minutes to hours before onset of pain
  3. Pain phase-this is the phase when the headache occurs
  • Normally it is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to noise and smells
  • It is best to lie in a dark quiet room during this phase
  1. Post drome- this is the phase after the headache has ceased
  • During this phase, some people may feel euphoric others depressed. It is different for different people

PREVENTION

Nobody would want to have a migraine two times! Unfortunately, migraines attack the same person over and over again.

That’s why it is best to prevent them.

  1. Migraine prophylaxis with drugs as topiramate, gabapentin, verapamil (note these are prescription drugs, not over the counter medications!)
  2. Avoid triggers

TREATMENT

Remember to lie in a dark, quiet room!

  1. For mild to moderate headache- use pain meds like paracetamol, ibuprofen
  2. Severe migraines- your doctor should be able to prescribe triptans and ergots

 

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eric okemwa
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so awesome