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Management and care of Migraine

One of the common questions asked by people is the difference between headaches and migraine.

Headache, as the name suggests is a kind of pain which is experienced by a person in the head area. In medical terms, headaches is a pain located in head confined within certain boundaries which doctors describe from upper edges of eyes to backwards towards the ears to the nape of the neck. On the other hand, migraine is a neurological condition which can lead to several symptoms, one of which is a headache.

Headaches are of two types-primary headaches and secondary headaches. Primary headaches are common and take up to 90% of cases of headaches and migraine is one of them.  This kind of a headache starts from one side of the head and usually progresses to cause pain in the entire head. The patient may also complain of vomiting sensation and intolerance to light and sound in case of migraines.  One episode of migraine may last up to an interval of 4 hours but in severe cases, it may go on for 3 days.  Some other symptoms of migraine apart from pulsating headaches include nausea, fatigue, irritability, neck stiffness and numbness.

There are two types of migraines-one is the common type which is migraines without aura and the other is classic migraines or migraines with aura. An aura is basically a phase before onset of migraine wherein patient may experience improper vision, seeing flashes of light or bright spots and even difficulty in speaking. Some common triggers of migraine include fasting for long periods of time, sensitivity to sunlight or other lights, dehydration, loud sounds, changes in sleep pattern and stress.

Some red flags of migraines include sudden onset of headaches, high intensity headaches, headaches accompanied with other symptoms or signs such as double vision and headaches in elderly population. In such cases, the headaches must not be taken casually and neurological help must be taken. If headaches are increasing in intensity progressively, even in that case, consultation must be taken without any delay.

The treatment approach for migraines includes proper evaluation by a neurologist. The doctor may suggest a 3 point strategy.

First point is preventive. One must be able to analyse the triggers that may be causing them pulsating headaches or migraines and should avoid them to avoid chances of headaches altogether. Avoiding common triggers like high sunlight, certain foods and drinks and loud music etc is recommended.

The second point is to go for over the counter medicines prescribed by the doctor to control the episodes of migraines. The doctor may suggest medicines depending upon the intensity of the condition.

The third therapy is suggested for those who have frequent episodes of headaches or migraines and as many as 3 to 4 episodes per month. In this case, the doctor may give medicines especially suited for those who have high frequency and high intensity migraines.