According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraine is the third most predominant illness affecting people around the globe. Talking to a doctor can help a person understand and manage migraine better. Read to find out 15 natural and home remedies to manage the symptoms of migraine headaches.
What is a migraine?
A migraine is a headache that can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities.
A person may also experience nausea and sensitivity to light, sound, and smell. Several factors trigger a migraine, such as hormonal changes, certain food and drinks, stress, and exercise. The severity of Migraine attacks vary from person to person.
What are the types of migraine headaches?
The two major types of migraine headaches are:
- Migraine with aura
- Migraine without aura
For some people, an aura is a warning symptom that may occur before or with a headache. It can include visual disturbances such as flashes of light and blind spots or other disturbances such as tingling in the face, arm, or leg, and speech difficulty. In some cases, a person may be unable to see for close to 30 minutes. Aura usually starts before the headache initiates and may last up to an hour.
Below are the subtypes of migraine.
- Brainstem aura: A person experiencing brainstem aura may get any of the two symptoms – vertigo (a sensation of dizziness or spinning), double vision, unsteadiness, slurred speech, tinnitus (ringing in the ear) and severe sensitivity to sound.
- Episodic: This is the most common type of migraine headache. A person may suffer from regular episodic attacks –Experiencing a headache/migraine attack for more than 7 days in a month may be termed a high-frequency episodic migraine or chronic migraine.
- Chronic: A headache occurring for 15 or more days in a month, constantly for more than 3-months, is known as chronic migraine. The symptoms and the severity of the pain may change frequently.
- Hemiplegic: The headache might be associated with temporary numbness, tingling sensations, extreme weakness on one side of the body, a loss of sensation and dizziness, or vision changes. In extreme cases, the symptoms may include a severe headache.
- Migraine without headache: Also known as silent migraine. In this form of migraine, people may not experience intense pain. Aura is the main warning sign for this type of migraine. It usually lasts anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes.
- Abdominal Migraine: As the name suggests, this type affects the abdomen rather than the head. The symptoms include stomachache, nausea, appetite loss, headache, and vomiting. This can happen in children and eventually evolve into classic migraine .
- Menstrual migraine: Usually, this occurs two days before a menstrual cycle and usually lasts for three days post the period. In general cases, this type of migraine occurs with an aura.
- Vestibular Migraine: Vertigo is also often associated with this type of migraine. The spinning sensation or feeling of dizziness lasts for about a minute to an hour.
- Ocular or Retinal Migraine: This kind of migraine is rare and usually gives signs like seeing colours, flashing lights, other visual changes, and loss of some/complete vision of one eye. The vision loss might last less than an hour and may be followed by a typical migraine headache. It is better to seek an expert opinion as soon as a person loses some vision to avoid further complications.
- Status migrainosus: A continuous and severe pain lasting more than 3 days is a sign of status migrainosus. The pain and nausea caused by this can be intense enough to even need hospitalisation.
- Ophthalmoplegic Migraine: Ophthalmoplegic migraine often lasts 7 days and may cause a droopy eyelid, double vision, and other eye conditions.
What are the symptoms of migraine?
The predominant symptom of migraine is a headache. Often, people describe the pain as pounding or throbbing. It can begin as a dull pain that further develops into pulsing pain that is mild, moderate, or severe.
If left untreated, the headache may become moderate to severe. Pain may shift from one side of the head to the other, or may affect the front or back of the head. It may also affect the whole head. Some people also feel pain around their eyes or temple.
Other symptoms of migraine headaches include:
- Sensitivity to light, noise, and smell
- Vomiting and nausea, upset stomach, and abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling very warm or cold
- Pale skin colour
- Feeling tired
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- Tender scalp
Most migraine headaches last about four hours, although severe ones may last much longer.
Each phase of migraine attack may come with different symptoms:
- Aura symptoms:
- Numbness and tingling
- Visual disturbances similar to a kaleidoscope, view blurry spots or see sparkles or lines
- Temporary loss of sight
- Weakness on one side of the body
- Speech changes
- Headache that may be accompanied by :
- Neck pain, stiffness
- Depression, giddiness and anxiety
- Sensitivity to light, smell, and sound
- Nasal congestion
- Nausea and vomiting
When to seek a medical expert?
Migraine headaches are often undiagnosed and untreated. If there are regular signs and symptoms of migraine, make an appointment with the doctor to discuss treatment and ways to manage migraine.
Seek medical expertise immediatelyif you are experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms, which could indicate a more serious medical problem:
- An abrupt, severe headache
- Headache after head injury
- New headache after 50 yers of age
- Stiff neck, headache with fever, confusion, double vision, seizures, numbness/weakness in any part of the body
- Chronic headache that get worse with exertion, straining, coughing or a sudden movement
Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment
What causes migraine headaches?
The causes of migraine headaches aren’t fully understood, but genetics and environmental factors play a role. Changes in brainstem and its interactions with trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway, may be involved.
Perhaps there might be imbalances in brain chemicals — including serotonin, which helps regulate pain in your nervous system. There are several migraine triggers, including:
- Hormonal changes in women like fluctuations in estrogen before/during menstrual periods, pregnancy, and menopause.
- Hormonal medications such as oral contraceptives.
- Drinks like alcohol, especially wine, and drinking large quantities of caffeine.
- Bright flashing lights and loud sounds.
- Strong smells from perfumes, paint thinner, and passive smoking.
- Missing sleep or excessive sleep.
- Intense physical exertion of any kind.
- A change of weather.
- Aged cheeses and salty and processed food.
- Food additives like sweetener aspartame and preservative monosodium glutamate (MSG) that are found in many foods.
What are the natural, home remedies to treat migraine headaches?
The following natural and home remedies to treat migraine headaches may provide some relief for people suffering from migraine attacks.
- Drinking water may help as dehydration triggers migraine headaches.
- Getting good sleep, as research suggests a correlation between high migraine frequency and poor sleep.
- Acupressure on particular points of the fingers and body to relieve pain.
- Stress management techniques like deep breathing exercises, meditation, music therapy, and relaxing activities.
- Regular massage.
- Eating magnesium-rich food such as almonds, oatmeal, eggs, milk, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, and peanut butter.
- Trying relaxation methods that help control autonomic reactions to stress.
- Practicing yoga helps promote good mental well-being.
- Using ginger to ease nausea caused due to migraine.
- Applying topical peppermint oil.
- Avoiding foods and beverages that may trigger migraine.
- Inhaling lavender oil to ease the pain
How can one prevent migraine?
Medications can help prevent frequent migraine attacks. The doctor may recommend preventive medications for frequent, long-lasting or severe headaches that don’t respond well to natural treatments.
Preventive medication aims at reducing the frequency of the migraine, the severity of the attacks, and the duration.
Migraine can be challenging but with the right treatment recommended by the doctor, it can be managed.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- How does the healthcare provider diagnose migraine?
After getting a medical history, a neurologist may diagnose migraines based on various symptoms, physical, and neurological examinations. If the condition is severe and unusual, then the healthcare provider may recommend magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scans to rule out other causes of the headache.
- How does one prepare to meet a doctor?
One should be equipped with the right information such as family’s medical history, symptoms, list of medications, and possible questions for the doctor.
- Who can get migraine attacks?
Anyone can get migraine attacks – from children to adults of all ages. Migraine attacks progress through four stages such as prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome. Every migraine attack doesn’t have to go through these four stages.