Migraine Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

July 17, 2019
In this article, discover everything you need to know about migraines.

A large percentage of people suffer from migraines regularly. This neurological disorder affects their quality of life. As a result, their mood may suffer and this may lead to depression and isolation.

In this article, discover the causes of migraine headaches, as well as their diagnosis and treatment.

What’s a Migraine?

A migraine is a neurological disorder characterized by severe headaches. Overall, many people who suffer from these headaches often attribute them to stress, tension, or anxiety.

A woman suffering from a migraine.

A migraine occurs with localized pain on one or both sides of the head. Typically, it’s a pain that completely incapacitates the sufferer and affects a large part of the population (18% of adult women and 6% of adult men).

Classic migraines, also known as “aura” migraines, often begin with vision symptoms. Sensory disturbances such as flashes of light or blind spots manifest. These symptoms usually last between 10 to 30 minutes.

Read: How to Fight Migraines Naturally with 5 Delicious Smoothies

Causes of Migraine Headaches

Overall, people who suffer from migraines tend to experience different patterns and forms of pain. Besides, the patient may even suffer from different forms of migraine-related pain throughout their lives.

Thus, it’s very important to know what can lead to this disorder. After all, this may allow you to prevent or even reduce its intensity.

The causes or triggers of this neurological disorder are:

  • Smoking and alcohol intake.
  • Stress.
  • Sleep disorders.
  • Exposure to strong odors.
  • Abrupt climate changes.
  • Consumption of some foods (MSG, artificial sweeteners, soy, dairy products, caffeine, chocolate, citrus fruits, bananas, avocado, etc.).
  • Overexposure to bright lights.
  • Certain medications.

Symptoms of Migraine Headaches

Overall, the symptoms of this disorder are very characteristic and recognizable:

  • The main symptom is an intense headache that extends from the head, neck, and facial muscles. This pain may last from 4 to 72 hours.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Photophobia and phonophobia. Migraines cause hypersensitivity to light and sound.
  • Paleness of the skin.
  • Fatigue.
  • Palpitations.
  • Visual symptoms. Flashes, blind spots, zigzag lines, partial loss of vision, or eye pain may occur.
  • Psychological changes. Overall, stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and even nervousness and aggression may occur.

Thus, migraine doesn’t allow the sufferer to do any activity. In addition, here are other less common symptoms that may also manifest:

  • Dizziness.
  • Itchiness, tingling, and tickling.
  • Involuntary body movements.
  • Slurred speech.

Diagnosis

A woman with a headache.

Overall, the diagnosis depends on the patient’s symptoms. To diagnose a patient, the doctor needs a very detailed medical history. Naturally, the information the patient provides about their pain is very important.

Typically, most patients don’t need to see a neurologist to diagnose this condition. Only in cases where a secondary headache or another pathology is suspected will imaging tests may be requested. If this is the case, the typical tests performed are MRI and CAT scan.

In addition, you should also read: A New Development to Treat Migraines

Migraine Treatment

Overall, there are two treatment strategies to fight this condition: pharmacological treatment and natural therapies.

Pharmacological Treatment

The choice of drug depends on the cause of the migraine:

  • Pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, paracetamol, etc. However, these drugs only prove effective on mild or moderate migraines.
  • Antiemetics. Typically, these are used to inhibit vomiting and nausea.
  • Antihypertensive drugs. In general, these are used for migraines caused by hypertension.
  • Antidepressants. Naturally, these are best for migraines and headaches caused by depression or tension.

Natural Therapies

In addition, natural therapies to treat migraines are always based on patients’ diets. Overall, it’s essential to increase your consumption of natural foods and cut processed products (pastries, snacks, precooked foods, etc.). Also, it’s important to rule out possible food intolerances, such as gluten or lactose intolerance.

Natural therapies take overall health into account to treat any disorder, such as the hormonal system, liver function, the kidneys and intestines, and emotions. Acupuncture, homeopathy, magnet therapy, and chromotherapy, among other techniques, can all yield results.

  • Carod-Artal, F. J., Irimia, P., & Ezpeleta, D. (2012). Migraña crónica: definición, epidemiología, factores de riesgo y tratamiento. Rev Neurol, 54(1), 629-37.
  • Pascual, J. (2001). Migraña: diagnóstico y tratamiento. Medicina clínica, 116(14), 550-555.
  • Pedra, M. P. (1992). Influencia del estrés en el padecimiento de la migraña. Anuario de psicología/The UB Journal of psychology, (54), 97-108.