HomeBrainBrain DiseaseMigraine – A Symptom of an Underlying Illness

Migraine – A Symptom of an Underlying Illness

A headache is a common occurrence and is considered minor but if it persists and gets worse, you might be suffering from a migraine. It is a symptom of a serious underlying problem, like brain diseases, and should not be taken lightly. Migraine is not an illness but an indicator of illness and can also be accompanies by several other associate symptoms coming from the same source.

There are several ways to alleviate the situation particularly by treating the condition where it originates from. Here is a general overview and tips 01 .

About Migraine

A migraine is described as an intense and very painful headache that is usually accompanied by other symptoms which indicate the presence of a serious illness. Some of the other indicators include tingling sensations or numbness of the arms and legs, flashes of light, nausea, heightened sensitivity to light and sound, vomiting, blind spots and muscle aches.

The other symptoms can also be present several days or weeks before a migraine ensues. The pain can differ over the days. There are some instances when the pain is completely absent and there are also times when it escalates to severe levels, lasting for many hours or days 02 .

The pain that emanates from migraine can describe in different ways, base on where it is located and the particular condition causing it. The pain types may be throbbing, pulsing, radiating, burning, and bounding. Some people might feel that their entire head is in pain, while others have localized pain only affecting certain regions of their cranium.

When it becomes very intense, the person might vomit, get dizzy or faint. The condition seems to be more prevalent among females compared to males. Some individuals will detect the early warning signs that preclude migraine like flashing lights, blind spots, and dizziness 03 .

Triggers and Causes of Migraine

Many experts have study migraines over the years, particularly when researching various brain diseases. They discover that several factors can be the cause of migraines such as stress, anxiety, changes in hormones, lack of sleep, insufficient nutrition, exposure to light, lack of blood circulating in the body, the presence of a serious condition or illness, abnormal production of brain chemicals, cardiovascular accident or stroke and other sensory problems 04 .

Very loud noise, powerful fumes and odors, and very bright lights also seem to cause a migraine. Other possible triggers include smoking, fasting, physical trauma or injury, taking certain medications, menstruation, the onset of menopause, alcohol intake, tension headaches, allergies, eating certain fruits and fermented products and consuming tyramine-rich products 05 .

The Symptoms of Migraine

Even though migraine is a symptom itself, there are also several other accompanying symptoms. These can occur due to the severe headache or are also other common signs that are present with the underlying condition. Examples are moderate or severe pain that seems to be present in the entire head or localize to certain areas or one side. The pain might move to the other side on other occasions 06 .

The pain may be throbbing, radiating or pulsing and can intensify if the person engages in physical activity, lacks sleep, or skips a meal. The person might also get dizzy, drowsy, nauseous and have increase sensitivity to sound and light 07 .

The person might vomit at times or even faint because of sensory changes. People with migraine are unable to perform properly and also experience changes in sleep patterns, inability to sleep, and confusing thoughts and emotions.

How to Diagnose Migraine

If a person experiences a headache, it should be rated from 1 to 5, 1 being mild, 3 being moderate and 5 being severe. If the person rates the pain as 3, 4, or 5, it can mean that he might be suffering from a symptom more powerful than the average headache.

Other things that might indicate the presence of migraine, such as those that occur with brain diseases, including having 5 or more episodes, pain lasting at least 4 hours and extend to 3 to 5 days, localize pain that intensifies with physical activity. The symptom might also be accompany by others like nausea, dizziness, and vomiting 08 .

A few tests can be done to diagnose the condition as well as point out the presence of abnormalities that might let doctors know where a migraine is coming from. Some diagnostic procedures include EEG or electroencephalography, MRI or magnetic resonance imaging, spinal tap, and CT or computed tomography 09 .

These approaches can show the presence of tumors, a stroke, blood clots in the protective membrane surrounding the brain, inflammation of the membranes protecting the spinal cord and brain, bleeding inside the skull, lacking or having excess cerebrospinal fluid, postictal headache or headache happening after a seizure or stroke, dilated blood vessels inside the brain and nasal sinus blockage.

The Treatment of Migraine

There are so many ways to get rid of migraine. Health practitioners will generally focus more on the underlying condition or disease that primarily triggers the symptom. There are medications that will help alleviate the pain such as paracetamol, barbiturates, acetaminophen, caffeine, tricyclic drugs, and dichloralphenazone 10 .

There are certain medications that will cause vasodilation, thereby allowing the blood vessels to widen and letting more blood, oxygen, and nutrients flow to the brain to reduce the pain and effects. Some medications are given to reduce pain, prevent vomiting and minimize dizzy or drowsy feelings such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and anti-emetic drugs.

Individuals might also be recommended to improve their lifestyle and diet by cholesterol, unhealthy oils, and preservatives can trigger migraines. Individuals are also encouraged to increase physical activity and exercise at least 3 times each week.

Exercise, particularly cardiovascular activity, will cause more blood to rush into the brain and improves circulation throughout the body, thereby eliminating migraines or reducing overall pain. Other measures like surgery might be required if the pain is caused by the presence of a tumor and other anomalies. The patient should be assessed regularly and monitoring is required to ensure that episodes or attacks are managed well.


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Written by Dr. Ozair (CEO of SignSymptom.com) as physician writers are physicians who write creatively in fields outside their practice of medicine.

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