Recent news reports about politician Michele Bachmann’s migraines have brought an often forgotten health issue to the forefront of many American’s minds (no pun intended). However, with nearly 30 million Americans suffering from migraines, it’s a more common condition than many believe. While each individual’s personal struggle with this type of headache differs, migraines can often be a debilitating and very painful acute medical condition for those who experience them.
Migraines are often a misunderstood condition. People sometimes believe that migraine sufferers are exaggerating their symptoms because they are believed to be similar to regular headaches. Much more painful than normal headaches, migraines are often accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and even vomiting. No two person’s migraines are alike; however,some symptoms of migraines can include a throbbing, pulsing, or pounding sensation that is sometimes worse on one side of the head. Fatigue, weakness, neck pain and chills are just a few other indicators of a migraine.
Michelle Bachmann’s migraines are said to be foreshadowed by what is called aura. Symptoms that warn of an impending migraine, auras are common occurrences in many migraine suffers. One of the most widespread symptoms of aura is blurred or impeded vision, although auras can also be sensory, motor, or verbal. An example of verbal aura took place when reporter Serene Branson was unable to form words and speak normally as she was reporting live from the Grammys in early 2011.
An important part of controlling migraines is to know what triggers this extreme head pain. Bachmann claims to know her trigger factors to be able to better regulate how migraines affect her in daily life. However, determining what causes each individual’s migraine can be a difficult and trying process. For some patients, certain foods trigger migraines like alcohol, chocolate, citrus fruit, baked goods, and dairy products to name a few. For others, environmental factors like stress, loud noise, certain lights (like fluorescent lighting or bright sun), or perfumes could all play a part. Migraines can also be caused by changes in hormones, which is why they are common for women during their menstrual cycle or while using birth control pills.
Keeping a headache journal often helps migraine sufferers pinpoint the possible causes of their headaches. By writing down what you eat and drink, how much sleep you’ve had, how severe your headaches are and when they occur, and all the symptoms you’re experiencing you can attempt to track potential triggers and avoid them in the future. For example, the journal may show that you get migraines on days when you drink less water and therefore may be a result of dehydration.
While there is currently no cure for migraine headaches, it is important to start treating the symptoms of a migraine as soon as you notice them. By drinking water, resting in a quiet and dark room, and placing a cool cloth on your forehead you may be able to prevent the migraine from progressing. Medications exist for decreasing the number of migraines, stopping a migraine once early symptoms are recognized, and treating the pain and other symptoms of a full blown migraine.
The fully trained and board certified providers at Abraham Medical can provide you with more information about migraines and help you determine the best method of treatment for your specific symptoms.