National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month is recognized every June. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraines are the 3rd most prevalent and 6th most debilitating disease in the world. Formerly considered to be the constriction of blood vessels, researchers now believe that a migraine is a neurological disorder involving nerve pathways and brain chemicals. There is no current cure or known cause, but there are tips to help identify a migraine and how Immediate Care can aid in pain relief.
What is a Migraine?
- A migraine is NOT a bad headache. It is a crippling combination of neurological symptoms that include intense throbbing on one or both sides of the head, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and/or chills and sweats. Many people also experience sensitivity to light, sound, smell and touch as well as numbness and tingling in their face and other extremities.
- Migraines can last from 6 to over 72 hours.
- Approximately 90% of migraines run in families.
- Three times as many women suffer from migraines than men and an increase in hormone levels can produce migraines either during menstruation cycle or pregnancy.
- Most endure about two migraines a month, but over 4 million people have 15 or more migraines per month.
- Lasting years or a lifetime, migraines are recurrent and can begin or end at any stage in life.
- They can be triggered by hormonal changes, certain foods and drinks, stress or exercise.
- About 90% of of migraine sufferers are unable to function normally or attend work when experiencing a migraine.
A “trigger” does not cause the migraine, but instead can set one off for a person who is susceptible to them. Every suffers’ triggers are different and many people never fully know what their triggers are. Here are the most common triggers:
- Food with MSG, specific exercises and excess caffeine and alcohol.
- An inconsistent sleep schedule, skipping meals or smoking.
- High levels of stress and anxiety.
Many sufferers can anticipate when a migraine is coming by experiencing what is known as an “aura.” This can mean different things for different people. For many, their vision will get hazy or they will see dots. Their hearing could also become more sensitive to average noise and tingling or numbness in parts of their body may set in. This gives a person a small window of time to take pain medication before a migraine reaches maximum intensity.
- Chronic sufferers may take daily medication to attempt prevention of the frequency of migraines from occurring.
- A person can take over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers if they feel a migraine approaching or if one should arise.
- If a migraine begins, one should lay down and relax in a dark, quiet, cool space and try to sleep.
- Applying an ice pack to the location of the head that is throbbing, may also reduce pain.
When to Consult a Doctor or Neurologist?
- If the pain level is beyond that of a normal headache.
- If experiencing the side effects that accompany migraines including light and noise sensitivity, numbness and nausea.
- If migraines are recurring throughout a month’s time.
How can Immediate Care help?
- If over-the-counter medication is not relieving a migraine while it is occurring, Immediate Care can administer either a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to reduce the hormones that cause inflammation and pain or a Triptan that is used to narrow or constrict blood vessels in the brain and relieve swelling.
- Should the patient also experience intense vomiting, Immediate Care can assist with rehydrating and also provide anti-nausea medication.
- Immediate Care’s providers can also recommend a highly-trained neurologist in the area.