Symptoms: Common migraine symptoms include a pounding head, an inability to focus and a desire to crawl under the sheets until it goes away.
Overview: Migraine, from the Greek hemikrania, or “half of the head,” refers to a throbbing pain in one side of the head. Often this throbbing pain is accompanied by a stiff and tender neck, as well as extreme sensitivity to noise and light, difficulty concentrating, intense pain during routine physical activity and even nausea.
Common migraines may last as little as four hours or as long as three days. They are usually followed by an after effect phase (postdrome) which includes exhaustion and feeling mentally foggy.
Overview: There are two types of migraine headaches: classic and common. About 80% of all migraines are the common type, but 20% experience the classic migraine which involves the common migraine symptoms accompanied by an aura, a visual disturbance.
Those who suffer from common migraine headaches usually experience them early in life. 25% suffer their first migraine before age 10, 55% before age 20 and 90% before age 40. Women are more likely than men to suffer from migraines by a three to one margin. 90% of migraine sufferers have a family history of the condition.
While the exact cause of migraines is unknown at this time, those who suffer from them note that emotional stress, physical exertion, changes in the weather, environmental pollutants, certain medications, foods such as dairy products, red wine and chocolate and changes in sleep patterns often trigger them.
While the cause may be unknown, the effect is known: migraines can be debilitating: they reduce the quality of life and affect relationships and job productivity.
The good news is that treatment from a healthcare practitioner can diminish the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches.