Migraines are severe, throbbing headaches that often come with nausea and vomiting. The pain from one is disabling for many suffers, leaving them with extreme sensitivity to sound and light and unable to think clearly for hours after the pain subsides.
Migraines are complex occurrences, so the symptoms vary by person. Many experience what’s called a prodrome, which are early indicators of an impending migraine. Prodrome symptoms include things like neck stiffness, increased thirst, and mood changes. A few also have an aura right before the headache hits that includes visual disturbances or speech problems. The muscles might feel weak, as well.
During the migraine attack, you experience throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head. You may also feel lightheaded and be sensitive to light, sound and certain smells. After a headache passes, there’s a postdrome phase that leaves you weak, feeling confused and perhaps dizzy and unable to do anything but sleep for hours.
Migraines are poorly understood by medical science, but the cause may be a combination of genetics and environmental factors. Beyond that, there are a number of theories about what’s going on in the brain before and after an attack such as hormone fluctuations or changes in neurotransmitter levels. What we do know is there are triggers and other factors that put you at risk. One of the biggest is stress. Other considerations include:
Generally speaking, if there’s a history of migraines in your family, you are at risk.
There are a number of alternative treatment options available that are proven to help reduce migraine attacks. There’s clinical evidence that acupuncture is helpful for headache pain, for example. Massage therapy is also a treatment option, especially since stress and poor sleep are known triggers.