Migraine Headache

Migraine is a neurological syndrome which can cause many symptoms during an attack, particularly headaches which can become temporarily disabling. It is a common disorder affecting as many as 18 percent of U.S. women and 6 percent of men. The word /migraine /originates in France/ /from the Greek /hemicrania/ (literally "half the head") and the Old English word /megrim./ The pain of migraine is often described as a throbbing headache affecting half the head. It is accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting, sensitivity to lights (photo phobia), sounds (phonophobia), worsened by exertion, and sometimes relieved by sleep. Fifteen to 25 percent of sufferers may experience a warning (aura) of their impending headache, typically a zig zag wavy line (scintillation) accompanied by an expanding visual loss/distortion (scotoma). Other auras include marching tingling paresthesias, vertigo (vestibular migraine), and rarely transient language impairment (aphasia) or even hemiplegia (hemiplegic migraine.

Sometimes these auras are not followed by an intense headache and are often referred to as acephalgic migraine, transient migrainous accompaniments or /migraine sine migraine/. When these auras affect older persons they are often referred to as late-life migraine. These phenomena often challenge even the most seasoned neurologist since such symptoms may be caused by more ominous problems such as a TIA (mini-stroke) or partial seizure. In such cases testing may include a brain MRI, electroencephalogram (EEG), or cerebral arteriography (MRA or CTA). Unfortunately there is no laboratory or imaging study which proves migraine; it is a clinical diagnosis, with criteria established by the International Classification of Headache Disorders.

Your neurologist will search for a family history of migraine, since two-thirds of migraine patients have a first degree relative with migraine. Triggers arecommon in migraine, especially pre-menstrual in women, hunger, specific foods such as cheese, alcohol, MSG, stress, sleep deprivation and others. A program of treatment will include trigger avoidance, acute medications for pain management, and if necessary, preventative medications including prescription drugs and over-the -counter natural supplements.

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The information presented on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Adherence to these guidelines will not ensure successful treatment in every situation. This information should not be considered inclusive of all accepted methods of care or exclusive of other methods of care reasonably directed to obtaining the same results. The ultimate judgment regarding the appropriateness of any specific procedure, therapy, or referral must be made by the physician in light of all circumstances presented by an individual patient.