Incredibly, migraines are the third most prevalent disease, and the sixth most disabling disease in the world. In the US alone, 18% of women, 6 % of men, and 10 % of children experience migraines. It comes as no surprise that 1 in 4 US households include a migraine sufferer.
Why are migraines a big deal? Unlike normal episodic headaches, migraines are a chronic disease that significantly diminish quality of life. Migraines can be excruciatingly painful, debilitating, and often incapacitating for hours or even days.
Migraines have four stages: prodrome, aura, headache, and post-drome, though you may not experience all stages. Prodrome is usually one or two days prior to a migraine, you may notice changes or sensitivities that warn of an impending migraine such as: constipation, mood changes, food cravings, neck stiffness, frequent yawning, and increased thirst and urination. Auras are symptoms of the nervous system, typically visual disturbances, however they can also be sensory, motor, or verbal disturbances. Luckily, most people have migraines without aura. During the Headache attack you may experience a throbbing or pulsing pain on one or both sides of your head. Extreme sensitivity to light, sounds, smells, or touch. These can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, blurred vision and lightheadedness. Post-drome is the final phase which lasts for about 24 hours after the headache attack. During post-drome you may feel drained, confused, moody and weak.
Once thought of as a psychological disorder, migraines are now considered a chronic neurological disease with many triggers. A trigger sets off events that excite a nerve which releases a variety of neurochemicals and causes cranial blood vessels to swell and inflame.
You’ve probably already heard about the many possible migraine triggers, but maybe you’re not quite able to nail down what’s triggering your migraines. Consider the overload of information your brain consumes daily: everything from social media, to millions of breaking news stories. Your brain literally can’t get a break from the constant intake of new information. This increase of information causes stress on the brain, which can reach an overload point and shut down the prefrontal cortex; thus triggering a migraine.
What should you do if you are experiencing migraines? The best thing to do is see your doctor. Why? If you are having true migraines, over the counter medications usually just don’t work, and taking them for migraines several times a month can lead to overuse. This will almost certainly cause rebound headaches! It’s a vicious cycle; don’t get stuck in it! Your doctor can help you figure out the right treatment for you.
Fortunately for migraine sufferers there is a bright future ahead, and I don’t mean in a bright light during a migraine attack kind of way. Clinical trials are showing promising results for new migraine treatments. You can be part of the future of migraine treatments by volunteering for a migraine clinical trial! Call today to get involved! As always, there is no cost, and no health insurance required.