Migraine is a vascular headache of a severe and chronic nature. Low levels of serotonin activate some chemical changes, which causes dilation (expansion) of blood vessels in the brain and nerve irritation, hence causing the Migraine headache. It is generally centered above one eye or the other. It is usually accompanied by nausea, vomiting and visual disturbances. Most migraine headaches usually last for about 4 hours, but occasionally severe ones can last for several days or up to a week.
What Causes of Migraine
The correct cause of a migraine is not known. It has a tendency to run in families and the vascular theory states that migraine is due to the inflammation and dilation of the blood vessels in the head causing a disturbance of blood flow and thus leading to pain. There are a number of factors that can trigger an attack.
Triggering factors of Migraine head ache can be categorized as follows:
· Physical fatigue, due to over-exertion or over-relaxation.
· Psychological factors like stress, excitement, worry, shock, and anxiety.
· Sensitivity to certain foods and beverages: Certain foods like cheese, chocolates, alcohol, caffeine, citrus fruits, etc. can trigger a migraine attack.
· Low blood sugar or Hypoglycemia can trigger migraine too. Often, missing meals can trigger an attack, especially in children.
· Medical problems like high blood pressure, dental problems, etc.
· Hormonal: Migraine has a 75% rate among women, mainly due to the hormonal relationship with estrogen that influences serotonin levels. When estrogen levels fall, so do serotonin levels. This link between estrogen and serotonin levels may also explain why some women suffer from migraine shortly before their menstrual periods or during perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause). Headaches related directly with the menstrual period are referred to as menstrual migraine.
· Lack of sleep or too much sleep can trigger migraine attacks. A number of people find that they get migraine after overindulging into a weekend sleep.
· Other factors like loud noise, bright lights, TV, strong smells, weather changes can also trigger the attack.
Signs and symptoms of Migraine
· Pain that is more severe on one side of your head.
· Throbbing or hammering pain.
· Pain that interrupts with normal activity.
· Pain aggravated by activity.
· Nausea and vomiting accompanied by headache.
· Unusual sensitiveness to light or sound.
· Visual disturbances -- Hallucinations, Flashing lights, Double vision, etc.
Dos and Don’ts to help you deal with Migraine headache
· Splash cold water on your face during a severe migraine attack, and then lie down in a dark room and rest.
· Take adequate sleep.
· Take a break from your daily routine.
· Set a regular and organized routine for your life style.
· Work in a pleasant atmosphere. Avoid stress.
· Avoid exposure to bright lights, loud noises, cold drafts, being under the sun for a long time, overstraining your eyes.
· Avoid fried, too salty, spicy food, alcohol, caffeine, canned foods, stop smoking. A vegetarian diet is preferable.
· Eat lots of raw fruits and vegetables.
· Don’t overwork yourself physically or mentally.
· Don’t overeat, eat small and frequent meals.
Home Remedies for Migraine
Lavender Oil: - I can be used as an inhaler and tropical application as well. Two to three drops per a cup of boiling water can be used for vapor inhalation. Do not take it orally.
Feverfew: - As it sounds, it is fever remedy. It is used to relieve migraine pain also. One study showed improvement in migraine pain among people who took daily feverfew in combination with white willow, another herbal home remedy, which contains properties similar to aspirin.
Basil oil: - Basil oil is a good remedy for your migraine head ache. It is also used as a muscle relaxant.
Ginger: - Ginger is widely used herbal remedy as anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. It is used as a head remedy too especially in migraines .Grind up a half-teaspoon ginger, stir it into a glass of water, and drink this “ginger juice.
Peppermint oil: - It is another widely used headache remedy. Peppermint oil can be applied tropically for faster relief.
Ice pack: - ice pack can sooth your headaches. Perhaps it is most widely know home remedy for all pain. Wrap some ice cubes in towel. Place it on your templates, back of your head and back of your neck for few minutes.
Acupressure points for migraines
Acupressure is proved technique for alleviating pain in case of migraine. You need to apply pressure on the acupressure points with your thump.
1) Between your eyebrows: - Apply pressure with your thumb exactly between your eyebrows for few seconds.
2) Hand point: - It is between your index finger and thumb. You can see the image below to get the exact point. Apply pressure on this pint regularly. It can prevent your migraine attack. Please do not do this on pregnant women.
NEJM 2002; 346(4): 257-269; XI Congress of the HIS