Migraine Headache

This is a throbbing pain that usually occurs on one side of the head. It is often associated with nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light or sound.

This is a throbbing pain that usually occurs on one side of the head. It is often associated with nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light or sound.

Almost everyone experiences a headache at one time or another. Not all severe headaches are migraines. A migraine is usually a moderate to severe headache that can last from four to seventy-two hours. It is usually described as a throbbing on one side of the head. However, the pain can also be present on both sides of the head. If migraines happen at a certain frequency, preventive measures are usually recommended. Other symptoms that can occur with a migraine include:

  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Being unable to take part in any physical activity because activity worsens the pain
  • Often individuals must stay in bed due to the disabling nature of a migraine.

There are two types of migraines, those with an “aura” and those without. An aura is a sensation or type of behavior before the headache starts and can include:

  • Visual changes (i.e. flashing lights)
  • Food cravings
  • Feeling high or low
  • Increased or decreased activity
  • Bloating
  • Excessive yawning

Migraines are more common in women and tend to run in families. Sometimes there are triggers that may contribute to a person having a migraine. Triggers can include:

  • Bright lights, strong odors, or loud noises
  • Emotional or physical stress
  • Missed meals
  • Lack of sleep or change in sleeping pattern
  • Weather changes
  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Certain types of foods

It is important to know your triggers. Some people can have more than one trigger.

Treatment for migraines varies based on the type of migraine and other symptoms. Some common treatments include:

  • Finding your triggers and avoiding them
  • Medications to help stop a migraine from happening
  • Rescue medications to be taken as soon as you know a migraine is starting
  • Pain medications (over-the-counter and prescription)

It is important to remember that overuse of some pain medications, even those sold over-the-counter, can lead to more headaches and other long-term issues.

If you suffer from chronic headaches, make an appointment with your healthcare provider.

  • Keep a headache diary with the date and time of each headache and how long it lasts. Include any known triggers, other symptoms you had and what helped your headache.
  • Bring a copy of your medical history (allergies, past illnesses, surgeries and hospitalizations).
  • Ask family members if they have had problems with migraines.
  • Make a list of your medications (including over-the-counter).
  • Write down any questions, symptoms or concerns you want to talk about.
  • If your healthcare provider prescribes a medication, ask for a generic one. If your doctor thinks that generics are not right for you, ask for medications on the lowest available tier of your Prescription Drug List (PDL).

Here are some questions to ask your healthcare provider.

  • Are my headaches migraines? What risks are associated with migraines?
  • What treatment, if any, are you recommending? What alternatives are available?
  • Are you prescribing a medication to stop my migraines from happening and another to treat a migraine? What are the possible side effects of each?
  • What tests do I need? What is the reason for those tests? Will the test results change my treatment plan?
  • What are my follow-up plans and what symptoms should I report before my next appointment?

Source UHC.com

Also known as:

Sound Sensitivity
Sensitivity to sound
Sensitivity to light
Migraine Headache
Light Sensitivity
Flashing lights

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