Updated: Jun 7
Most of us get headaches from time to time. Sometimes we get them often, and they last long. If you've ever experienced a throbbing headache that seems to come out of nowhere and leaves you feeling incapacitated, you may be experiencing a migraine.
If you've ever experienced a migraine, you know how debilitating the pain and discomfort can be and how much it can dampen your outlook on life. Migraines are a common type of headache that can be severe and long-lasting, making it challenging to perform everyday activities. And if left untreated, the symptoms could get worse.
But there's hope for those who have to deal with this kind of pain, and our pain management NYC center is here to help. In this article, we'll discuss what migraines are, how they differ from headaches, and how to manage them effectively.
What is a migraine?
Migraine is a progressive, chronic condition that can affect your quality of life. You may have migraine headaches, with or without aura, during all stages of your life and experience many different symptoms.
A migraine is a type of headache that is characterized by intense, pulsating pain that is often localized to one side of the head. In addition to pain, migraines may cause other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual disturbances.
Migraines are believed to be caused by changes in the brain's chemistry, and they can be triggered by a variety of factors, including stress, hormonal changes, and certain foods.
How to tell if you have a migraine?
It can be challenging to determine whether you are experiencing a migraine or a different type of headache, as the symptoms can be similar. In addition, the pain and discomfort associated with a headache can vary from person to person, and it can range from mild to severe.
However, some signs that you may be experiencing a migraine include intense pain that is localized to one side of the head. It usually affects the front or sides of the head and could radiate to the arms, chest, or back.
It's important to note that migraines and headaches are not the same things, such as tension headaches or sinus headaches. Headaches are a broad term that encompasses many different types of head pain, while migraines are a specific type of headache characterized by their severity and accompanying symptoms. In addition, migraines are a neurological condition that is believed to be caused by changes in brain chemistry.
Migraines often occur with other symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, dizziness and balance problems, sensitivity to light and sound (photophobia and phonophobia), visual disturbances such as seeing flashing lights or zigzag lines (aura), severe pain on one side of the head (unilateral), fullness in the affected eye, neck stiffness and more.
Migraine headaches are usually moderate to severe in intensity. They can last from 4 hours to 3 days. The pain usually affects only one side of the head, but it can also affect both sides of your head or just your temples or forehead.
The pain tends to pulsate at first and then intensify over time. It often starts on one side of the head but can spread across both sides at once or come from behind one eye — it's not uncommon for people who have migraines with aura to experience auras before their migraines begin.
Why do you get migraines?
Migraines are a relatively common condition, affecting approximately 12% of the population worldwide. They are more common in women than men and tend to run in families. Migraines can occur at any age, but they often first appear during adolescence or early adulthood.
There are many different factors that can trigger a migraine attack, including stress, hormonal changes, and certain foods and drinks. But the exact cause of migraines is not fully understood, but they are believed to be caused by changes in the brain's chemistry. Each person sometimes has different triggers and levels of severity.
How to treat migraines?
If you've been suffering from migraines for a long time, you've probably heard that there's no cure. While that's true, there are many ways to manage this often-debilitating condition.
Here are some of the most effective ways to treat migraines:
1. Identify your triggers — Learn what sets off your migraines and avoid these things as much as possible. If you have an idea what your triggers might be, avoid them before they cause problems. Keeping a pain diary can help identify your personal triggers, allowing you to avoid them when possible.
2. Don't skip meals or snacks — Eating regularly throughout the day can help prevent headaches caused by low blood sugar levels. In addition, skipping meals may cause dehydration and fatigue, which also could trigger headaches.
3. Exercise regularly — but not too much! Moderate exercise has been found to reduce migraine frequency in some people. However, if exercise intensifies a person's symptoms, it should be avoided until their next headache episode subsides completely (or at least until their headache is gone). You can consult a physical therapist to help you find the right type of exercise that is safe and appropriate for your condition.
4. Get enough sleep or rest — but not too much! People with frequent migraine attacks should try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night in order for their bodies natural chemicals (such as serotonin) to be replenished properly.
Also, remember that it's important to speak with our healthcare professionals to determine the underlying cause and find an appropriate treatment plan. Our pain management NYC center has a wide range of treatment options that can help manage and reduce the frequency of attacks. You don't need to take prescription medications — or suffer through one miserable day after another.