Almost everyone experiences occasional headaches that, while certainly uncomfortable, are manageable — but for individuals who suffer from migraine headaches, they can be debilitating, causing severe pain as well as sensitivity to light, sounds, smell, and even touch.
Migraines are thought to result from changes in levels of brain chemicals in regions of the brain and are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to sound and light. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities. Migraines, which often begin in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood, can progress through four stages: prodrome (subtle changes that warn of an upcoming migraine), aura, attack, and postdrome (a drained or confused period following a migraine). Not everyone who has migraines goes through all stages.
For some people, a warning symptom known as an aura occurs before or with the headache. Examples of migraine aura include:
- Visual phenomena, such as seeing various shapes, bright spots or flashes of light
- Vision loss
- Pins and needles sensations in an arm or leg
- Weakness or numbness in the face or one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking
- Hearing noises or music
- Uncontrollable jerking or other movements
Migraines are often undiagnosed and untreated. If you regularly have signs and symptoms of migraine, keep a record of your attacks and how you treated them. Then make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your headaches. Even if you have a history of headaches, see your doctor if the pattern changes or your headaches suddenly feel different.
Seek medical attention immediately if you have any of the following signs and symptoms, which could indicate a more serious medical problem:
- An abrupt, severe headache like a thunderclap
- Headache with fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness or trouble speaking
- Headache after a head injury, especially if the headache worsens
- A chronic headache that is worse after coughing, exertion, straining or a sudden movement
- New headache pain after age 50
The healthcare professionals here at Community Health Connections can effectively diagnose and treat migraines to minimize their effect and help you or your loved one live a more comfortable and fulfilling life. If you or someone you know suffer from migraines, please set up an appointment to come in and see a specialist. We can help!