Migraines are one of the most painful types of headaches. They usually last from 4-72 hours, and after the headache subsides, you may have lingering symptoms.
While the cause of migraines remains unknown, they’re likely related to changes in the brain and genetics. External factors such as fatigue, stress, caffeine, bright lights, missing a meal, and weather changes often trigger migraines. You also may inherit a susceptibility to specific triggers.
Migraines may begin as a dull ache, but then the pain builds. They commonly occur on one side of your head with intense pain concentrated near the temple, but the pain can spread to both sides.
During a migraine you may experience:
- Worse pain when you move
- Sensitivity to light, sounds, smell, or touch
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred vision
You may notice changes a day or two before a migraine starts, such as:
- Mood changes
- Food cravings
- Neck stiffness
- Increased thirst
- Frequent yawning
About 15% of people who get migraines experience aura, a warning sign that a migraine will begin soon. An aura lasts 20-60 minutes and often involves your eyes. You may have wavy vision or see flashes of light. You may also experience changes in speech, movement, or touch. For example, you may find it hard to talk, have uncontrollable movements, or feel tingling in your extremities.
After your migraine pain finally subsides, you may go through a 24-hour period when you feel:
- Ongoing sensitivity to light and sound
A variety of medications are available to relieve migraine symptoms:
Over-the-counter pain relievers may help mild migraines. Your doctor at Boerne Family Medicine may recommend prescription medications. One group of medications, triptans, effectively relieve migraine pain. Another group, ergot medications, are often prescribed for pain lasting longer than 48 hours.
You may be a good candidate for preventive therapy if you have four or more migraines a month, each attack lasts more than 12 hours, or your migraine symptoms include prolonged aura, numbness, or weakness. You take preventive medications regularly to reduce the severity or frequency of migraines.