What is a migraine? Why migraine happens. Who gets migraines? Treating migraines.



A Migraine Is More Than Just A Headache

From the Greek word hemicranios the migraine headache is not "just a headache". True migraine sufferers know this to be the truth and are often frustrated when people think "Oh you've just got a headache" without any understanding of just how painful and draining a real migraine can be. Bear in mind also that the migraine is one of the most common nervous system diseases of the developed world. First world countries have much higher rates of migraine sufferers than third world or Asian countries sometimes 300% - 500% higher.

International figures show that over 500,000,000 (500 million) people are affected by migraines each year. Although many people still class migraines as just a headache the severity and debilitating nature of migraine headaches put them in a class all of their own. That combined with the massive number of people affected means that migraines are a serious issue in terms of world health.

Two Types Of Migraines

There are two basic different types of migraine headache - the classic and common migraine. The biggest difference between the two is that before the onset of the classic migraine, the victim experiences an "aura", typically 10 to 30 minutes in advance of the headache itself. An aura may be visual, including the appearance of flashing lights, zig-zag lines or even a temporary loss of vision. Other auras are manifested in speech difficulty, confusion, weakness in an arm or leg or tingling about the face or hands.

Both types of migraine are unilateral in nature which means they normally only affect one side of the head. A typical migraine sufferer will feel the onset of the headache in either their eye or their jaw/neck and it will then spread from there to the rest of that side of their head. Noise and light sensitivity are common with vomiting being experienced during severe migraine attacks.

Migraines themselves are referred to as vascular headaches meaning that the pain is caused by a change in shape and size of the blood vessels around and inside your skull. These changes lead to the throbbing painful sensations associated with all types of migraines.

The first signs of migraine normally become obvious during childhood or during the teenage years with boys being affected more often than girls at this stage. Later in life migraines are 3 times more common in women than in men which is most likely due to female hormone fluctuations each month.

Migraines can last anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days but normally symptoms and the effects of the migraine have passed after 6 - 8 hours except in the most extreme of cases. There have been recorded cases of migraines lasting up to 2 weeks although these are extremely rare! Migraines can be as infrequent as two to three times a year or as often as four to five times per week.

The one bit of good news about a migraine headache is that it's referred to as a primary headache. This simply means that there is no other underlying cause such as a tumor in the brain for example. The severity of some migraines can make people fear the worst in this regard but there's no reason to be worried.

The other good news is that migraines can reduce in frequency and intensity over time. This will allow you at least some break in the endurance test that each migraine i