Migraine is a very common health condition, affecting around 1 in every 5 women and around 1 in every 15 men which usually begin in early adulthood.
What is a Migraine?
Typically a migraine is described as a moderate or severe headache felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head which also brings sensory disturbances. Although there is no known cause, it is a severe and painful long term health condition that can result in episodes known as migraine attacks.
In addition to head pain, migraine attacks can also cause whole-body experiences. These can include problems with vision and sensitivity to light, increased fatigue and sensations of nausea with vomiting.
Stages of a Migraine Attack
Although they can be complex, having a good understanding of migraines can be helpful. By spotting the phases of migraine attacks, individuals can spot the warning signs and be better prepared.
Migraines can be difficult to predict however once they usually follow a pattern made up of four well-defined stages:
- Pre Headache: This first stage is often signalled by feeling tired, excessive yawning, food cravings, feeling irritable, stiffness along with feeling thirsty and passing increased amounts of urine.
- Aura: This second stage includes a wide range of neurological symptoms including visual disturbances, numbness and pins and needles, weakness, dizziness and speech and hearing changes.
- Headache: At this point, it is likely that moderate to severe head pain typically described as throbbing has developed. This pain can often worsen with movement and can sometimes lead to nausea and vomiting.
- Resolution/Recovery: Symptoms of this final stage are similar to that of initial onset and can take anything between a few hours or days to fully recover.
Although it is not well understood what causes the abnormal brain activity related to migraines, there are certain triggers that are believed to have an impact such as stress, skipping meals, low blood sugar, alcohol, hormonal changes in women and environmental factors such as light and temperature.
Simple steps to take that could help include ensuring you are getting adequate amounts of good quality sleep, exercise regularly, reduce screen time, opt for healthy diet choices and work to reduce stress levels.
Here at The Mayfair GP, we have a strong focus on lifestyle medicine. If you would like more information, guidance and support in dealing with painful headaches or migraines, please get in touch to book a consultation.