Migraine Headache

Last Updated: August 18, 2022

Migraine headaches are usually one-sided (sometimes bilateral) head pain. They affect women more often than men, and can have a number of triggers, and are more common if you have a family member with migraines. They can be distinguished from other types of headaches (such as tension or cluster headaches) due to additional symptoms of nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and worsening of pain with activity.

Migraine Headache falls under thePaincategory.

What is a migraine headache?

Migraine headaches usually present as one-sided throbbing head pain, along with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine is very common and rated as the third most common reason for disability in both men and women younger than 50 years of age.[1] There are two major types of migraine: with or without an aura. Between 25-30% of people with migraine will experience auras, which are neurological symptoms (such as visual disturbances) that occur before, during, or after the migraine itself.[1]

How is a migraine diagnosed?

Usually, a headache with additional symptoms of sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and worsening with physical activity is most suggestive of a migraine. A migraine with aura involves reversible neurological symptoms that can be visual or sensory (e.g., flashing lights, zig-zag lines, foggy vision).[2]

What are some of the main medical treatments for migraine?

In patients with acute migraine, first line treatments usually include two classes of medicines: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and triptans. Examples of NSAIDS are ibuprofen and naproxen, and examples of triptans are sumatriptan and rizatriptan.[3] When these treatments are not enough to treat the migraine or when migraines still occur too often, preventative treatments may be prescribed.[4] These can include antiseizure, blood pressure,and antidepressant medications. Consult with your health care provider about what treatments are right for you.

Have any supplements been studied for migraine?

Many supplements have been studied for migraine prevention and some seem to have some benefit. Some examples include riboflavin (vitamin B2), magnesium, coenzyme Q10, butterbur, and melatonin.[5]

How could diet affect migraines?

Certain foods such as cheese, chocolate and wine are thought to trigger migraines in some people. However, food-elimination diets have yielded mixed results for reducing migraine frequency. Specific dietary modifications such as the ketogenic diet, the DASH diet, low-fat diet have been studied for migraine prevention, but it is unclear if they help.[6]

Are there any other treatments for migraine?

Many non-medical treatments have been studied for preventing migraine by reducing stress. Some of these treatments include meditation, mindfulness, biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), yoga, and hypnosis.[5]

What causes migraines?

Migraine triggers differ from person to person. Daily headache journals are recommended to be better able to identify specific triggers. Some commonly identified triggers include alcohol, caffeine, fatigue, menstruation, certain foods (e.g., cheese or chocolate), missed meals, smoke, stress, and weather changes.[4]

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  1. ^Gobel1. Migraine
  2. ^Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society (IHS) The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition.Cephalalgia.(2018 Jan)
  3. ^Laura Mayans, Anne WallingAcute Migraine Headache: Treatment StrategiesAm Fam Physician.(2018 Feb 15)
  4. ^Hien Ha, Annika GonzalezMigraine Headache ProphylaxisAm Fam Physician.(2019 Jan 1)
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  10. ^Jacob SE, Stechschulte SFormaldehyde, aspartame, and migraines: a possible connection.Dermatitis.(2008)
  11. ^Newman LC, Lipton RBMigraine MLT-down: an unusual presentation of migraine in patients with aspartame-triggered headaches.Headache.(2001-Oct)
  12. ^Centers for Disease Control (CDC)Evaluation of consumer complaints related to aspartame use.MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep.(1984 Nov 2)
  13. ^Schiffman SS, Buckley CE, Sampson HA, Massey EW, Baraniuk JN, Follett JV, Warwick ZSAspartame and susceptibility to headache.N Engl J Med.(1987-Nov-05)
  14. ^Koehler SM, Glaros AThe effect of aspartame on migraine headache.Headache.(1988-Feb)
  15. ^Van den Eeden SK, Koepsell TD, Longstreth WT, van Belle G, Daling JR, McKnight BAspartame ingestion and headaches: a randomized crossover trial.Neurology.(1994-Oct)
  16. ^Lindseth GN, Coolahan SE, Petros TV, Lindseth PDNeurobehavioral effects of aspartame consumption.Res Nurs Health.(2014-Jun)
  17. ^Schiffman SAspartame and headache.Neurology.(1995-Aug)
  18. ^Roberts HJAspartame and headache.Neurology.(1995-Aug)
  19. ^Levy PS, Hedeker D, Sanders PGAspartame and headache.Neurology.(1995-Aug)
Examine Database References
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