What Is A Migraine?

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What Is A Migraine?
What Is A Migraine?
Video: What Is A Migraine?
Video: What Is Migraine? 2023, February

Migraines: what is it?

Migraine is a brain disease that is not entirely curable, but can be treated well. A migraine attack leads to sudden, moderate to very severe headaches, usually on one side - often with side effects.

Migraines occur at any age, with an increase between puberty and the age of 50. The headache attacks that occur can differ greatly in terms of severity and duration. Migraines are one of the most common types of headache and one of the most common neurological diseases worldwide.


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What are the causes of migraines?

The mechanism that triggers migraines is not exactly known. A genetic predisposition is likely to be the basis. It is believed that there is a change in brain activity - starting from the brain stem. As a result, functional disorders of the nerve cells occur, the cerebral vessels expand and become inflamed. So-called triggers are suspected of being able to trigger migraine attacks. These triggers vary greatly from person to person, and they include alcohol, stress, and hormonal fluctuations. Often foods are suspected of being triggers. However, there is currently no scientifically sound evidence for this assumption.

Gender differences

While the gender distribution of migraines is almost the same up to puberty, this changes after puberty. Since the interplay of hormones is a trigger for migraines, women of childbearing age are affected by migraines around three times as often as men, and only twice as often after the menopause.

What are the symptoms of migraines?

Migraines have moderate to severe headaches (pulsating, pounding, or pounding) mostly on one side of the head that worsen with movement. This may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, hypersensitivity to smells, tears in the eyes or dizziness. Those affected are also sensitive to light and noise during migraine attacks. A so-called aura can also appear before the headache begins. In this, among other things, there are speech or emotional disorders to see flashes of light. A migraine attack usually runs in phases and, if left untreated, lasts between four and 72 hours.

Pre-phase (prodromal stage)

Hours to days before the headache comes up, symptoms such as tiredness, changes in appetite or mood swings occur. These signs can provide help for timely therapeutic measures - the attacks are "intercepted" at the right moment.

This affects around 30 percent of patients. It lasts from a few minutes to around half an hour and is characterized, for example, by seeing flashes of light, difficulty hearing and speaking, as well as confusion and tingling in the body / on the skin. The appearance of the aura is attributed to functional disorders in the brain. If the characteristic headache occurs within an hour, one speaks of a migraine with aura.

A migraine aura can occur without a headache and counts as a separate category of headache classification (isolated migraine aura). Headache phases can decrease with increasing age in migraine sufferers, but the appearance of the aura remains.

Headache phase

This is characterized by sometimes very strong - mostly one-sided - headaches that are pulsating, throbbing or pounding. This phase can last up to about four days. The pain usually increases with movement. The headache is often accompanied by sensitivity to light and noise as well as nausea / vomiting.

Improvement phase (postdromal stage)

As the pain subsides, there is often tiredness, a clouded mood, and decreased resilience.

Note If symptoms of an aura appear for the first time, a neurologist should always be consulted quickly in order to rule out other diseases (e.g. epilepsy, stroke).

For more information, see Headache: Types & Causes.

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