Migraine is a complex and often incapacitating collection of neurological symptoms that vary from individual to individual.

Affecting about 39 million Americans – 85 percent of whom are women - migraine is the third most common and the sixth most disabling illness in the world, prompting 1.2 million emergency department visits each year in this country alone.

More than just a bad headache, migraine is a neurological disease causing such crippling symptoms as throbbing pain often on one side of the head, visual disturbances, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, tingling or numbness in the extremities or face, and extreme sensitivity to sound, light and smell. Attacks typically last from four to 72 hours, although millions experience daily migraine or at least 15 migraine days a month.

For many migraine patients, this is a chronic condition affecting all aspects of their life. Migraine diminish their ability to work and enjoy life fully, and many suffer from depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances.

Migraine Symptoms

Migraine symptoms can happen in stages, starting up to a day or two before the head pain begins with mild feelings of depression, crankiness, loss of appetite and stiff neck.

Visual disruptions called auras can start before a migraine, beginning slowly and building to the point where you experience flashing lights or wavy lines, loss of vision, weakness on one side of your body, trouble talking and hearing sounds that aren’t there. Not all people who get migraine headaches experience these preliminary symptoms.

Migraine attacks are characterized by:

• Severe, throbbing pain that can affect one or both sides of your head
• Sensitivity to light that causes you to retreat to a darkened room
• Sensitivity to smells, sounds and touch
• Nausea or vomiting
• Light-headedness
• Fainting
• Blurry vision

Screening & Diagnosing Migraine

Because an estimated 60 percent of migraine is hereditary, one of the first things we will do to make an accurate diagnosis is ask you about your personal and family history.

We will then ask for specific details about your headaches – how many you have, how long they last and what symptoms they cause.

We may also need you to have tests done to rule out other conditions that might be causing your headaches.

Treating Migraine

There is currently no cure for migraine, but we have found that medication and other types of treatment can help you experience fewer and less debilitating headaches.

We will work with you to identify anything that might trigger your personal migraine so you can avoid them as much as possible, and suggest self-care practices like improving your sleep routine or managing stress.

If those tactics don’t work, over-the-counter medication may help. Your provider can also suggest prescription drugs, if needed. There are many options called abortive treatments that come in pill, shot or nasal spray form and can relieve the symptoms of migraine. In addition, there are preventive medications that stop migraines from starting in the first place.

Women's Migraine

With women making up the majority – 28 of 39 million - of American migraine sufferers, we can safely say that migraine is a women’s health issue.

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Headache Center