What is a Migraine?
At its core, a migraine is a painful, throbbing headache. What sets a migraine apart from other headaches, however, is the intensity and the associated sensory disturbances. Migraine sufferers often experience
- Disturbed Vision
- Sensitivity to light, sound, and smells
- Nausea and Vomiting
Even the slightest movement can be incredibly painful, causing the headache to intensify. Some sufferers report that once they vomit, the headache is relieved to some degree. Migraines often appear with an “aura,” either before or during an attack; these visions or other sensory disturbances usually happen right before the headache sets in. For some people, they can provide enough time for them to get somewhere dark and quiet to ride out the attack. Migraines generally last between 4 to 72 hours.
Migraines are, individually, very painful; a chronic migraine, however, can be a disabling condition in some people. Chronic migraines are defined as 15 or more headache days per month for three consecutive months, with more than eight being migraines (Having fewer than 15 headaches a month is called episodic migraine).
Migraines are diagnosed through patient history and ruling out other causes for headaches, such as damage to the shoulders, neck, or head. Patients will also undergo a complete neurological assessment. There is no specific test for migraines, although CAT and MRI scans are used to rule out other headache causes.