If you have ever suffered from the intense throbbing, extreme sensitivity to light and sound and other debilitating symptoms that a migraine headache can bring, you probably would like to know what can cause such a severe headache and how to prevent them or lessen the painful effects.
Migraine headaches are primary headaches, meaning that they are not associated with any other medical condition, brought on by a central dysregulation of the brain. A classic migraine has four distinct phases: mood swings or cravings, visual distortions, pain and nausea and fatigue that follows the headache. Not every person experiences all four phases and the same person may have different symptoms with each headache. For some people, learning to recognize the first phase of the migraine is key to prevention. By recognizing the pattern that the body follows prior to the onset of a migraine, some patients have been able to avoid a full blown migraine completely.
Approximately 30-40% of migraine sufferers experience symptoms 24-48 hours before the onset of headache pain.This is called the Prodome phase and symptoms can include:
- Frequent yawning
- Fluid retention
- Muscle stiffness, especially in the back, neck and face
- Food cravings Depression and difficulty concentrating
Phase two, or the Aura phase, is experienced by approximately 15-20% of individuals and experience blurred vision, floaters in the eye, flashes of light or color or a blind spot in one eye. Some patients experience only the aura phase, which is a phenomenon known as a silent migraine. For additional symptoms in the Aura phase, click here.
The third phase, or the Headache phase, is what is most commonly associated with migraines and causes extreme pain between 4-72 hours. Headaches lasting longer than 72 hours are called “tatus migrainosus” and need immediate medical attention. Patients in the Headache phase may experience extreme sensitivity to light, sound and smell, nausea, vomiting and increased pain during any physical activity.
The fourth and final phase, Postdrome, affects around 68% of migraine sufferers and include feelings of weakness, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and even scalp tenderness. These symptoms can last for several hours or even several days, although the average duration is a day.
Because migraine headaches are associated with alteration in the brain and it’s associated tissues, when seeking medical care for migraine pain, it is important to consult a physician who will provide a thorough neurological exam to determine the specific parts of the nervous system that are not functioning properly. Keeping in mind that be in tune with the body and recognizing signs and patterns that accompany migraines, tracking details, symptoms and timing in a journal may be a helpful tool to predict an oncoming migraine.
If you or someone you know suffers from headaches or migraine pain and would like to know how Chiropractic Neurology can help, please contact the team at Georgia Chiropractic Neurology Center today for your consultation.