Although the exact known cause of migraines is still very much unknown, some researchers have stated that it could be a neurological problem, as there are a number of things that can trigger them such as; Tension / stress, Hormonal or environmental changes, long exposure to the sun, lack of sleep, intake of certain food, alcohol or poor diet.
Although I have been fortunate to have only ever experienced a migraine once in my life, my husband suffers from them on a weekly basis. And until I experienced my migraine, I could not fully understand (although I have always empathised with him) how painful and debilitating they are.
So what is the difference between a migraine and a headache? Migraines usually start (although not the same for everyone) as a dull headache and quickly turns into a throbbing pain generally on one side of your head but some people experience this pain all over their head. This pain is a constant pain, in the temples, back and side of the head which can last any thing from 4 hours – 3 days. Some people experience light movement (known as visual migraines), some people feel nausea and vomiting and some people have to be in a dark room, as any kind of light makes the pain worse.
Migraines don’t just start out of nowhere, there are 4 stages a migraine goes through, these are prodrome, aura, attack and postdrome.
Prodrome – One or two days before your migraine you may notice subtle changes, which may indicate a migraine on its way. These signs may be;
- Constipation / Diarrhoea
- Food cravings
- Sensitivity to smells or noise
- Neck stiffness
Aura – Most people experience migraines with out aura. Auras are usually visual but can also be sensory but can also be sensory, motor or verbal disturbances. Each of these symptoms typically begins gradually over several minutes, then usually lasts for 10 – 30 minutes. These can be;
- Visual phenomena – Such as seeing various shapes, bright spots or flashing of lights
- Vision loss
- Pins and needles sensations
- Numbness in arms and legs
- Speech or language disturbances
Attack – When untreated a migraine usually lasts 4 – 72 hours but the frequency of your migraines can vary from month to month. For example you may have several migraines in a month but then only have one the following month. During a migraine you may experience some of the following symptoms.
- Pain one side of the head
- Pain that has a pulsating throbbing quality
- Sensation to light, sound and sometimes smell
- Blurred vision
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, light-headedness or fainting
Postdrome – This is the final phase which occurs after a migraine attack, where you may feel weak and tired, although some people say they feel mildly euphoric.
A new study by Nationwide Children’s Hospital which was presented on Wednesday (7th June 2017) at the annual meeting of the American Headache Society, in Boston. Looked at 185 children, aged between 5 – 18 years who have been diagnosed with having migraines and found 41% of these children had 4 common Prodrome migraine symptoms that adults also experience. These are yawning, neck stiffness, food cravings and urinary changes.
The senior author of this study Dr. Howard Jacobs stated “”Knowing which of these premonitory signs a child experiences before a migraine can lead parents and physicians to early recognition and treatment of an impending migraine attack.”
This study concluded stating, children who have chronic migraines or aura migraines are more likely to experience these for common Prodrome migraine symptoms and experience a more severe pain than adults.
Personally I think it will be interesting to see what other studies and doctors say about these findings when this study is published in a peer-reviewed journal as for the moment the results of this study is being viewed as preliminary, until they are published.
Have you experienced migraines? And if you have would you mind sharing your experiences?