Things You Should Know About Migraines

Did you know that nearly 1 in 4 households includes at least one person that suffers from migraines? It’s the third most prevalent illness in the world, affecting 39 million Americans and about 1 billion people worldwide. That means that just about everyone either struggles with migraines themselves or knows someone who does. Sadly, most migraine sufferers never seek help.

What is a migraine?

Migraines are a neurological disease with extremely incapacitating symptoms. The pain is often so debilitating that it prevents sufferers from carrying out their daily activities.

What are the primary symptoms of migraines?

The most common symptom is a throbbing headache, often on only one side of the head. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to light and sound, and more.

Some migraine victims experience warning symptoms (also known as an aura) that alert them to an oncoming migraine. Those symptoms could include mood swings, food cravings, neck stiffness, increased thirst and urination, frequent yawning, and more.

How long do migraines last?

Migraine attacks can last for a few hours up to a few days.

What triggers a migraine?

A wide range of environmental factors can bring on a migraine, including:

  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Heightened stress
  • Changes in weather
  • Lack of sleep
  • Drinks that include alcohol and too much caffeine
  • Sensory stimuli, such as bright lights, loud sounds and strong smells
  • Various foods, like aged cheeses and salty and processed foods

Are migraines hereditary?

Yes. About 90 percent of people with migraines have family members who also experience migraines. A child with one parent who suffers from migraines has a 50 percent risk of getting migraines. That number jumps to 75 percent when both parents are migraine sufferers.

What are the most effective treatments for migraines?

Anti-migraine medicines fall into two broad categories:

  • Pain-relieving medications. These are taken before or during a migraine attack. They include pain relievers, triptans, some nasal sprays, and/or anti-nausea drugs.
  • Preventive medications: These kinds of drugs are taken more regularly, sometimes daily, to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. They could include antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, medicines to lower blood pressure, and more.

Does one sex suffer more from migraines than the other?

Yes. It’s estimated that three times as many women as men suffer from migraines. Some 85 percent of chronic (more than once a month) migraine sufferers are women. About one-quarter of female sufferers have four or more migraines per month.

A broad range of treatments are available for those who experience migraines, as a medical professional, like the migraine treatment team, at a health facility like the Lotus Wellness Center, can explain.