What causes migraine headache?
A migraine headache is may be caused by a change in the brainstem and it's
interactions with the trigeminal nerve, along with imbalances in brain chemicals
(such as serotonin). Although much about the cause of a migraine isn't
understood, genetics and environmental factors appear to play a major role.
Some migraine triggers include: hormonal changes in women, foods, drinks,
stress and medications (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2013).
Discuss its signs, precipitating factors, and treatment.
There are 4 stages of a migraine
-During the prodrome stage (which happens one to two days before) symptoms include:
constipation, food cravings, depression, neck stiffness.
-Aura's are nervous system symptoms that are usually visual disturbances such as
flashing of lights and can also be sensory, motor and/or verbal disturbances.Symptoms of
the aura stage include: visual phenomena, vision loss, feeling of pins and needles in arm
or leg and speech problems. Although most people experience migraine headaches
without the aura stage, each symptom begins gradually and builds up over several
minutes, lasting 20-60 minutes.
- Untreated, a migraine usually lasts for about 4-72 hours, however, the severity of the
migraine varies from person to person. During the attack, symptoms include: pain on one
or both sides of head, throbbing or pulsating pain, sensitivity to light/sound or smell,
nausea, blurred vision, lightheadedness.
-Postdrome occurs after the migraine, usually making the person feeling drained or
washed out (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2013).
Migraines may be caused by family history, age, sex (where women are 3x more likely to
have migraines) and hormonal changes.
Although migraines can't be cured, there has been a variety of medications specifically
designed to treat migraines.
Pain Relieving medications
- pain relievers (tylenol)
- migraine medications (excedrin)
Triptans (promotes constricting blood vessels and blocking pain pathways in the
-sumatriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan
Ergots (ergotamine and caffine combination drugs)
Anti-nausea medication (Chlorpromazine, compro)
Preventative Medications such as cardiovascular drugs and antidepressants are
prescribed to patients who have 4 attacks a month, if attacks last longer than 12
hours or if pain relieving medications aren't working (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2013).
Mayo Clinic Staff (June 4, 2013) Migraines. Retrieved
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