What is a Migraine?
A migraine is a specific type of a headache that affects one in five people worldwide. Often ‘normal tension headache is also wrongly referred to as a migraine.
A word migraine is derived from the Greek word ‘hemicrania’, which literally means ‘half of the skull’. One-sided pain is one of the characteristics of this type of a headache. Other characteristic symptoms are a throbbing pain, not being able to think well and nausea and vomiting. A migraine attack can last from a few hours to a few days.
There are also other serious causes of headaches, such as stroke, meningitis and cerebral haemorrhage, which partly have the same symptoms. That is why it is important to consult a doctor so that he can rule out other causes. A migraine does not cause fever or neurological problems.
A form of a migraine is ‘classic’ a migraine, in which people first have an aura, with visual, sensory or Dysphatic symptoms. These migraine attacks can increase the risk of stroke in the long term. This is not the case with the more common migraine without aura. The treatment for both migraine forms is the same.
A well-known characteristic of migraine attacks is that they often have triggers that trigger seizures. The most common triggers are also the hardest to avoid in modern life: irregular eating, poor sleep, fatigue and stress. Hormonal changes can also lead to a migraine attack, in women especially around menstruation. Other triggers mentioned are flashes of light, smoke, odours, medicines and loud noises. Certain foods, such as dairy products, also seem to be able to trigger migraine attacks.
Unfortunately, there is no simple laboratory or hospital test that can confirm the diagnosis of a migraine. Imaging techniques are being investigated, but the research is still at an early stage.
Get migraine attacks under control
1. Prevent triggers.
There are a number of ways to get migraine attacks under control. The first is to prevent attacks by avoiding the triggers that trigger an attack.
The second is treatment with medication at the first symptoms of an attack. In mild to moderate attacks paracetamol (in liquid or tablet form) or aspirin/ibuprofen can be taken, in normal doses. These painkillers can also be taken together with medicines for Nausea, such as Migramax and Paramax. Medications containing codeine are not recommended, they can lead to headaches, especially if used frequently.
In moderate to heavy seizures, preference is given to drugs from the group of triptans. These work directly in the brain and reduce the transmission of chemicals that cause the pain. They are effective, as many as 45-75% of patients indicate that the pain is relieved within two hours of ingestion. Triptans should NOT be taken if you have had a heart disease or stroke or have suffered from high blood pressure since they narrow the blood vessels and can lead to dizziness and shortness of breath.
If the first triptan does not work properly, the next step is to increase the dose, try another triptan (there are seven triptans available) or try a combination with a medication for nausea.
The third tactic is to prevent seizures in patients who have an attack more than twice a month, have worse seizures, or are unable to take the above-mentioned acute medication. For this, the patient must take a beta blocker daily to prevent recurrent attacks. If beta-blockers are not suitable for the patient, other drugs can be prescribed, but as an unregistered indication.
4. Vitamin B2
Some small-scale studies have shown that Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 400 mg and CQ10 dietary supplements could have a preventive effect. There is no convincing evidence that cognitive behavioural therapy, meditation or any other psychological technique is effective in preventing migraine.
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