A migraine is a strong headache that often comes with nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. It can last hours or days.
Migraines are different in everyone. In many people, they happen in stages. These stages may include:
Hours or days before a headache, about 60% of people who have migraines notice symptoms like:
?Being sensitive to light, sound, or smell
?Food cravings or lack of appetite
?Constipation or diarrhea
These symptoms stem from your nervous system and often involve your vision. They usually start gradually, over a 5- to 20-minute period, and last less than an hour. You may:
?Flashes of light
?Things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
?Have tunnel vision
?Not be able to see at all
?Have tingling or numbness on one side of your body
?Not be able to speak clearly
?Have a heavy feeling in your arms and legs
?Have ringing in your ears
?Notice changes in smell, taste, or touch.
A migraine headache often begins as a dull ache and grows into throbbing pain. It usually gets worse during physical activity. The pain can move from one side of your head to the other, can be in the front of your head, or can feel like it’s affecting your entire head. About 80% of people have nausea along with a headache, and about half vomit. You may also be pale and clammy or feel faint. Most migraine headaches last about 4 hours, but severe ones can go for more than 3 days. It’s common to get two to four headaches per month. Some people may get migraine headaches every few days, while others get them once or twice a year.
This stage can last up to a day after a headache. Symptoms include:
?Feeling tired, wiped out, or cranky
?Feeling unusually refreshed or happy.
?Muscle pain or weakness.
?Food cravings or lack of appetite.
Migraine Risk Factors
Somethings may make you more likely to get them:
? *Sex* . Women have migraines three times more often than men.
? *Age* . Most people start having migraine headaches between ages 10 and 40. But many women find that their migraines get better or go away after age 50.
? *Family history* . Four out of five people with migraines have other family members who get them. If one parent has a history of these types of headaches, their child has a 50% chance of getting them. If both parents have them, the risk jumps to 75%.
? *Other medical conditions* . Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, and epilepsy can raise your odds.
Some common migraine triggers include:
*Hormone changes* . Many women notice that they have headaches around their period, while they’re pregnant, or when they’re ovulating. Symptoms may also be tied to menopause, birth control that uses hormones, or hormone replacement therapy.
*Stress* . When you’re stressed, your brain releases chemicals that can cause blood vessel changes that might lead to a migraine.
*Foods* . Some foods and drinks, such as aged cheese, alcohol, and food additives like nitrates (in pepperoni, hot dogs, and lunchmeats) and monosodium glutamate (MSG), may be responsible in some people.
*Caffeine* . Getting too much or not getting as much as you’re used to can cause headaches. Caffeine itself can be a treatment for acute migraine attacks.
Changes in weather. Storm fronts, changes in barometric pressure, strong winds, or changes in altitude can all trigger a migraine.
*Senses* . Loud noises, bright lights, and strong smells can set off a migraine.
*Medications* . Vasodilators, which widen your blood vessels, can trigger them.
*Physical activity* . This includes exercise and sex.
*Tobacco Changes to your sleep*. You might get headaches when you sleep too much or not enough.
There are several kinds of migraines. The most common are migraine with aura (also known as a classic migraine) and migraine without aura (or common migraine).
Other types include:
– Menstrual migraine: This is when the headache is linked to a woman’s period.
– Silent migraine. This kind is also known as an acephalgic migraine. You have aura symptoms without a headache.
– Vestibular migraine : You have balance problems, vertigo, nausea, and vomiting, with or without a headache. This kind usually happens in people who have a history of motion sickness.
– Abdominal migraine: Experts don’t know a lot about this type. It causes stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. It often happens in children and may change into classic migraine headaches over time.
– Hemiplegic migraine. You have a short period of paralysis (hemiplegia) or weakness on one side of your body. You might also feel numbness, dizziness, or vision changes. These symptoms can also be signs of a stroke, so get medical help right away.
– Ophthalmic migraine. This is also known as an ocular or retinal migraine. It causes short-lived, partial, or total loss of vision in one eye, along with a dull ache behind the eye, which may spread to the rest of your head. Get medical help right away if you have any vision changes.
– Migraine with brainstem aura: Dizziness, confusion, or loss of balance can happen before the headache. The pain may affect the back of your head. These symptoms usually start suddenly and can come along with trouble speaking, ringing in your ears, and vomiting. This type of migraine is strongly linked to hormone changes and mainly affects young adult women. Again, get these symptoms checked out by a doctor right away.
– Status migrainosus: This severe type of migraine can last more than 72 hours. The pain and nausea are so intense that you may need to go to the hospital. Sometimes, medicines or medication withdrawal can cause them.
– Ophthalmoplegic migraine :This causes pain around your eye, including paralysis of the muscles around it.
Treatment or Management
Many people who have migraines find that over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen, can help to reduce their symptoms.
They tend to be most effective if taken at the first signs of a migraine attack, as this gives them time to absorb into your bloodstream and ease your symptoms.
It’s not advisable to wait until the headache worsens before taking painkillers, as it’s often too late for the medicine to work.
Tablets you dissolve in a glass of water (soluble painkillers) are a good alternative because they’re absorbed quickly by your body.
Natural ways of managing migraine
1. Avoid certain foods
Diet plays a vital role in preventing migraine attacks. Many foods and beverages may be migraine triggers, such as:
– foods with nitrates, including hot dogs, deli meats, bacon, and sausage
– cheese that contains the naturally occurring compound tyramine, such as blue, feta, cheddar, Parmesan, and Swiss
– alcohol, especially red wine
– foods that contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer
– foods that are very cold, such as ice cream or iced drinks
– processed foods
– pickled foods
– dried fruits
– cultured dairy products, such as buttermilk, sour cream, and yogurt
A small amount of caffeine may ease migraine pain in some people. Caffeine is also in some migraine medications. But too much caffeine may cause a migraine attack. It may also lead to a severe caffeine withdrawal headache.
To figure out which foods and beverages trigger migraine attacks for you, keep a daily food journal. Record everything you eat and note how you feel afterward.
2. Apply lavender oil
Inhaling lavender essential oil may ease migraine pain. Lavender oil may be inhaled directly or diluted with a carrier oil and applied in small amounts to your temples.
A 2016 randomized controlled study found evidence that 3 months of lavender therapy as a prophylactic therapy, meaning taken before a migraine attack begins, reduced frequency and severity of migraine attacks. However, research is still limited.
A 2020 review of studies published in the journal Phytotherapy Research examined the ability of various herbal treatments, including lavender therapy for migraine. The authors found mixed or limited evidence to support the use of butterbur and feverfew for treating migraine but didn’t note that current research supports the use of lavender.
According to the authors, many studies had a high risk for bias, and more high quality research is needed.
3. Try acupuncture
Acupuncture involves injecting very thin needles into certain parts of your skin to stimulate relief from a wide variety of health conditions.
A 2020 randomized controlled study found that 20 sessions of manual acupuncture along with usual care was more effective at preventing migraine in people with a history of episodic migraine without aura than sham acupuncture along with usual care. Sham acupuncture is a treatment where the needles are not inserted as deeply.
A 2016 review of 22 studies also found moderate evidence that acupuncture may reduce headache symptoms. In the results summary, the authors explain that if people had 6 days of migraine per month before treatment, it would be expected that they would have:
5 days with usual care
4 days with fake acupuncture or prophylactic medications
3 1/2 days with real acupuncture
4. Look for feverfew
Feverfew is a flowering herb that looks like a daisy. It’s a folk remedy for migraine. It still isn’t well-studied, but there is some evidence that it may be slightly more effective than a placebo for treating migraine.
In a 2015 review of studies, which is an update of a previous 2004 study, the authors concluded that larger studies are needed to support the use of feverfew for treating migraine.
The authors note that one larger study published since the 2004 review found 0.6 fewer migraine days per month in people who took feverfew versus a placebo. They describe previous studies as low quality or providing mixed evidence.
The 2020 review of studies published in Phytotherapy Research also summarizes the finding on feverfew as “mixed.”
5. Apply peppermint oil
The chemical menthol found in peppermint oil may help prevent migraine episodes, although there’s a very limited amount of research.
A 2019 randomized controlled study compared the effects of nasal 4 percent lidocaine with 1.5 percent peppermint essential oil and a placebo for managing migraine symptoms.
The researchers found that 40 percent of people in the lidocaine and peppermint oil groups experienced considerable improvements in their symptoms, compared with only 4.9 percent of people in the placebo group.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health notes that very little research has examined peppermint leaf, but a limited amount of evidence suggests topical peppermint oil may benefit tension headaches.
Ginger is known to ease nausea caused by many conditions, including migraine. It may have pain-relieving benefits for migraine attacks. According to a 2020 review of studies, one randomized controlled study found evidence that ginger may have beneficial activity.
14 Natural Ways to Reduce Migraine Symptoms
– Avoid food triggers
– Lavender oil
– Peppermint oil
– Stress management
Migraine attacks aren’t typical headaches. You may experience pounding pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. When a migraine attack or episode occurs, you’ll do almost anything to make it go away.
Natural remedies are drug-free methods of reducing migraine symptoms. These at-home treatments may help prevent the onset of migraine attacks or at least help reduce their severity and duration.
Written by: Samuel Sobiye