Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Of Migraine

Migraine is a potentially disabling problem that is severely underdiagnosed. In fact, it is a chronic disorder that according to data from the Spanish Neurology Society is the leading cause of disability in adults under 50 years of age and the third most prevalent pathology globally.

What is migraine? What are your causes?
Migraine is a type of headache (headache) consisting of an intense throbbing pain , usually on only one side of the head, which often occurs recurrently with variable frequency.

Its causes are not entirely known , but genetics and some environmental factors seem to play important roles. It is also believed that imbalances in certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin (which regulates pain sensation among many other things) could be behind migraines.

Thus, family history is considered important risk factors , along with others such as age (they usually appear for the first time during adolescence and young adulthood) or sex (women are three times more likely to suffer them than men).

In any case, it is known that there are situations that can trigger migraines such as hormonal changes (in women), alcohol consumption, caffeine consumption, stress, exposure to bright or flashing lights or loud sounds. In some cases, exposure to certain strong odors, lack or excess of sleep, physical exertion, changes in barometric pressure, the use of certain medications and the consumption of certain foods (especially salty and processed) and food additives.

What are your symptoms?
Symptoms are traditionally divided into four stages grouped in order of appearance, although each case has particularities and the affected people do not have to go through all the phases or do it in that order, nor do they necessarily suffer all the symptoms described.

The first of these phases would be the so-called prodrome , and it can consist of symptoms such as constipation, changes in mood, cravings, stiff neck, increased frequency of urination, fluid retention and frequent yawning.

The next is known as the aura , which can precede or coincide with the attack. It is characterized by a distinctive form of visual distortion, similar to sparkles, bright spots, or crystals. Similarly, the patient may have vision loss, tingling in an arm or leg, unilateral numbness or weakness, and difficulty speaking.

The third is the attack phase , in which the most acute symptoms are already present: intense, throbbing and unilateral headache; sensitivity to light, sound and, in some cases, smells and touch; and, in some patients, nausea and vomiting.

Finally, there is the postdrome phase , in which the patient may feel exhausted, confused, and fatigued. In some cases, people report feeling euphoric; In addition, it is common to have a headache associated with sudden movements.

The episodes usually occur recurrently , with a frequency that can vary from once every several months to several times a month, and together last between 4 and 72 hours.

How is it treated?
The treatment of migraine is based on the relief of symptoms and the prevention of episodes, without there being a definitive cure.

Thus, it is common for the doctor to prescribe common painkillers (aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetamol) and there are other options such as triptans, dihydroergotamine, lasmiditan, ubrogepant or opioids that have shown some efficacy in the symptomatic relief of migraines.

To prevent episodes may be employed drugs that reduce blood pressure, tricyclic antidepressants, anticonvulsants, Botox and CGRP monoclonal antibodies.