The Mechanism of Migraine
What is coming about physiologically when a migraine headache takes place? It turns out the origin of a migraine headache is in the brain stem. The brain stem is a small bit above the spinal cord, but beneath the cortex of the brain. The migraine “control center” in the brain stem emits signals to the blood vessels lining the brain, requesting these blood vessels to dilate and expand. In the process, pain signals are sent returning to the “control center”.
Migraine Contrasted with other Headaches
What is the difference between a migraine and a regular headache? Migraine headaches are typically one-sided, with concomitant nausea, decrease of appetite and vomiting. Often, light sensitivity accompanies the migraine headache. Contrast this with the conventional tension headache, which is distributed over the whole head. Furthermore, the routine headache is not as intense as a migraine headache. Migraine is better portrayed as a throbbing headache, whereas a tension headache merely has a dull, constant ache.
Different Types of Migraines
There are normal migraines and classic migraines. Classic migraines commence with a “aura” that involves changes in visual perception. The auras last roughly 10-30 minutes and are associated with flashing lights and/or colors, and perhaps a temporary loss of vision. You may feel a burning or curious prickly feeling, and maybe feel irritable and restless.
A common migraine doesn't involve an aura. A common migraine starts more slowly than a classic migraine and the pain may merely be unilateral. But then, a common migraine lasts longer than a classic one, and might interfere more extensively with your usual activities.
A few herbal remedies have been used. These include feverfew, chamomile, valerian, white willow and skullcap. These following supplements also should help individuals suffering from migraines:
- Coenzyme Q10
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B2
Lastly, some additional remedies include extra magnesium in one's diet, regular physical exercise, and relaxation techniques like yoga or transcendental meditation. Recently, a new form of migraine treatment called Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) has been developed. TENS sends a mild shock of electricity, precluding the body from receiving migraine pain signals.
The ensuing is an incomplete listing of migraine symptoms:
- Auras (light spots)
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Intense pain in the head
- Problems in speaking
- Throbbing or pulsing headache (usually unilateral)
Migraine attacks frequently recur, and the symptoms will differ from person to person.
Certain non-traditional treatments have proven effective. These include chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture and biofeedback therapy. Magnetic therapy in addition has been used with success. Magnetic therapy initiates increased electrical activity in the brain. This raises neural conductivity which then stimulates in the brain the secretion of the hormones serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin controls moods and depression tendencies. Magnetic therapy treatment normally involves either:
- A magnetic pillow pad
- A magnetic head band
- A magnetic eye mask
A natural care method includes utilizing an ice pack on the back of the neck close to the base of the skull. This lessens the flow of blood to the head, resulting in less pressure in the head. Make sure there is a barrier between the ice pack and the skin, like a wet cloth.
Specific environmental triggers seem to produce a migraine attack. These triggers include certain foods, stressful lifestyles, and exposure to bright lights or loud sounds. Commonly, particular foods such as red wine, cheese, chocolate, meats cured with nitrates, and MSG can induce migraine headaches. More triggers include anger and/or stress, not enough sleep, menstruation, and weather changes. Withdrawal from caffeine and ergotamines can in addition cause migraine headaches. The reason why foods like cheese, chocolates and alcohols can cause migraines is the presence of amines that act on the vascular system by triggering venal constriction through release of catecholamines.
There is an extensive range of treatments for migraines. They vary from medications such as the triptans (sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, frovatriptan) to consuming healthful foodstuffs, to avoiding some stressful lifestyles to relaxation approaches. Migraine headache intensity varies from one individual to the next, and no clear cut remedy currently exists.
A few prescription medications might ease the symptoms of migraines. These include Imitrex, Maxalt, Zomig, Relpax, Midrin, and Migranal. They exert their action by inducing cerebral vasoconstriction.
The majority of symptoms of migraines disappear after a few days. Providing migraines are left untreated, however, they could induce strokes, aneurysms, permanent vision loss, and even comas.
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