A bad headache can put your day on hold. A migraine headache can be many times worse. And if you have chronic migraines, every day can be torture. While some migraines provide symptoms that foreshadow an attack, you still need to be ready with medications to control your symptoms. That’s where your headache specialist at Century Medical and Dental Center in Brooklyn comes to your rescue. Call to discuss your migraines before your next attack!
One of the leading causes of missed work and disability claims, migraine headaches deliver symptoms that often are debilitating. Starting with severe throbbing pain, usually on one side of your head, migraine headache symptoms also can include painful sensitivity to light and sound. The symptoms can last anywhere from a few hours to days. Migraines significantly impact not just your daily routines, but your quality of life.
You may experience early warning signs of an oncoming migraine in the form of visual sensations known as auras. Blind spots, flashes of light and other visual cues often signal approaching discomfort. These pre-attack symptoms may also include trouble speaking or walking correctly. Your Century Medical and Dental Center top rated Brooklyn doctor helps correctly identify the triggers to prevent your migraines, as well as medication to control the symptoms.
Symptoms Requiring Migraine Headache Treatment
Beginning in childhood to early adulthood, migraines often progress through four stages, each with its own set of symptoms:
- Prodrome. One or two days before a migraine, subtle changes may occur to signal its coming. You may notice a more depressed moodiness, stiffness in your neck, increased thirst, constipation or frequent urination, food cravings and yawning frequently.
- Aura. Striking before or during a migraine, auras include vision changes or even vision loss, numbness or weakness in your face, trouble speaking, hearing auditory sounds like music or odd noises, a pins and needles feeling in one of your limbs, and occasionally, a jerking movement that can’t be controlled. An aura episode can last anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes.
- Attack. Lasting from four to 72 hours without treatment, migraines vary greatly from person to person. Some sufferers experience intense pain that pulses and throbs, often on only one side of your head. Others have trouble with nausea and vomiting. Certain sights and sounds become very uncomfortable.
- Post-drome. You may feel drained or fatigued after fighting the pain of a migraine. While the end of pain can bring on a feeling of elation, take care not to move your head too quickly as it can reintroduce the pain.
Migraine Headache Triggers
Your Brooklyn headache specialist begins the treatment process by helping you identify migraine triggers. Some common triggers include:
- Drinks with too much caffeine, such as coffee and energy drinks
- Alcohol, especially wine
- Certain foods, such as salty snacks and aged cheese
- Food additives, such as MSG and the sweetener aspartame
- Missing meals or fasting
- For women, fluctuations in hormones due to puberty, menstrual periods, pregnancy or menopause
- High stress situations at work or home
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Certain weather changes
- Strong sensory stimuli, such as loud, grating noises
- Noxious odors, such as perfumes, paint thinner or secondhand smoke
- Bright, often fluorescent lights
- Certain medications, such as vasodilators or oral contraceptives
You may be at greater risk for developing migraines if you’re young, female, dealing with noticeable hormonal changes or have a family history of migraines. Untreated migraine headache pain may develop into a chronic migraine problem. Get medical help when your migraine hits, or visit your doctor during a good day to have an examination and discussion.
The two goals of your doctor are to control your migraine symptoms and prevent future attacks. Medications fall into one of two categories: for relief and for prevention. Relief medications include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers — such as ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen and caffeine — work well for mild pain and on a temporary basis. If you take them too frequently or for too long, they contribute to gastrointestinal problems, including ulcers.
- Dihydroergotamine medications come in the form of nasal sprays or injections. Taken at the first symptom of a migraine that typically lasts longer than 24 hours, this prescription-strength analgesic medication works by widening your blood vessels, reducing the throbbing pain you feel. If used improperly, it can cause a worsening effect of your symptoms.
- Triptans, only available as a prescription, help block the pain pathways in the brain. Taken as shots, nasal spray, or orally, these medications often relieve migraine symptoms quickly. Don’t take this if you have cardiovascular problems.
- Anti-nausea medications help those fighting nausea and vomiting due to the pain. They’re often taken with pain relievers.
- Opioid medications may work for individuals who can’t tolerate other pain medicines. Your doctor carefully monitors these medications because of the risk of dependency and addiction.
Preventive medications include:
- Certain tricyclic antidepressants have proven to help prevent migraines.
- Blood pressure-lowering medications such as beta blockers or calcium channel blockers help with auras and some pain symptoms.
- Anti-seizure medications help those with more infrequent migraines.
- Calcitonin gene-related peptide monoclonal antibodies are some of the most recent medications approved by the FDA. Your doctor gives them to you through a monthly injection.
- Botox injections, once every 12 weeks, helps control migraine symptoms for some adults. Yes, the same Botox that’s used for fighting wrinkles also works on some migraines.
Healthy habits — including good sleep routines, a well-balanced diet, regular exercise and stress controlling measures — help you monitor and maintain symptom-free days. You may need some time, even after your initial doctor visit, to fully discover the triggers to your migraine headaches. Work with your general physicians to find the best migraine treatment for you. Get started today!