By: Williams Owoeye
Maybe once or twice, there’s a probability that a large percentage of us at one time have experienced this throbbing on one side of our head. It can vary from modest ones (that comes with their rhythmic pounding that makes you wonder perhaps your brain has managed to develop an extra heart of its own), to head cracking ones that will make you think your brain is going to explode. If you are the type that loves squeezing out extra hours out of a day by working through the night, I bet this phenomenon is a common experience for you.
Even the origin of the word “migraines” says it all about the headache; it is from the Greek word “hemikrania” which translates as “pain on one side of the brain”. They are caused by a combination of abnormality in the neural and vascular systems in the brain: the neural part explains why it appears to be a pain confined to a part of the brain due to a glitch in the way signals are sent in the brain and the vascular part explains why it comes with a sensation that gives you the thought that your heart has opened a branch office in your head; this is because it affects the vessels that transport blood in our head.
It is however very important to differentiate between the infamous headache and migraines, as it is common to confuse one for the other. Migraines can actually be said to be a special type of headache with a taste; it comes in the company of other symptoms like sensitivity to light and noise, nausea and inability to perform regular activities due to the incessant hammering one gets from it. Also, unlike the common headache, migraines prefer to stay in one part of the head (speak of a classy headache).
Types of migraine
Migraines vary according to their severity and accompanying symptoms. The most interesting part is that their names speak for themselves.
Classic migraines: the ones that send notifications (aura) before their occurrence in form of a visual disturbance, stiffness of the neck or shoulder, a feeling of pin and needles in arms or legs or difficulty in speaking.
Common migraines: those that come unannounced without an aura; that prefers the dramatic and surprising entrance.
Abdominal migraines: (yes, you guess right, migraines can also occur in your stomach) they are characterised by cyclical pain in the abdomen often accompanied by headache. One can only imagine how devastating this would be for an adult but fortunately it occurs mostly at childhood.
Chronic migraines: these occur for a long period of time, specifically, greater or equal to 15 days in a month. This can be really devastating.
Triggers of Migraines
The main cause of migraines is not yet known but there are several culprits that have been implicated. These are various factors that people commonly identify to be responsible for their migraines. They include:
Genetics: if you have once gone to see your uncle (or any member of your family) but he demanded not to be disturbed because of migraines, there is a likelihood that you’ll also have it – it is hereditary.
Lifestyle and environment: some behaviours like taking of alcohol, irregular sleeping habits, exposure to bright light and flickering screen have also be identified to trigger migraines.
Physiological factors: these are factors that deals with the way our body works. They include hormonal changes due to menopause or menstruation, stress, fatigue, depression or hunger. All these can be a trigger for migraines.
It is interesting to know that people once believed that intelligent people are at risk of having migraines, however studies have shown there are no connection between intelligence and migraines except the likelihood of some intelligent people having bad sleeping habits.
Treatment for Migraines
Since the cause of migraines is unknown, various treatments available are only aimed at tackling accompanying symptoms. For example, painkillers like paracetamol are recommended to curb the pain and drugs can also be used to control the nausea. Taking enough water or washing the head with water can also be useful. Alternatively, one can try to identify and avoid the factors that trigger migraines by a change in habits, taking dietary supplements and regular exercise.
Surgery can also be recommended for those that have chronic migraines, people that can’t tolerate drug use or those that run the risk of drug overuse.
Migraines are reputable day-ruiners, but before they make you scream for your brain, be quick to take care of the pain.