Migraine is a detestable health condition well known in Singapore and it's connected with the nervous system and general anatomy of the body, which is normally associated with heavy, persisting headaches. However, it can also be accompanied by a number of other symptoms and warning signs. In this article, we provide an overview of the problem, revealing the most common causes and treatment plans.
What are the Symptoms?
The symptoms can be divided into three stages according to the time they occur. The first one is called the prodrome stage. It involves the following signs: irritability, hyperactivity, low energy that may or may not be accompanied by food cravings and depression. That being said, fatigue is common too.
The next phase, which goes by the name of the attack stage, is characterised by vomiting, nausea, and throbbing head pain. Other things sufferers experience are dizziness and growing sensitivity to sound and light, not to mention disturbing vision. These can continue to appear for a few days before the third phase takes over. It is called the postdrome stage. It comes with quick mood shifts, from one extreme to the other. One minute you could be feeling apathetic and fatigued, the next you will be overjoyed.
The intensity and duration of each phase will be different for everyone. In some cases, not all stages are present, such as the first one.
The pain that migraine brings about can be described as debilitating, throbbing, and pulsating.
What Triggers Migraines?
It is still not clear what causes migraines but there are certain triggers that might be to blame, including but not restricted to:
- Insufficient sleep, overexertion, poor posture, jet lag, etc.
- Anxiety, depression, and stress
- Hormonal changes
- Certain medications: contraceptive pill, sleeping pills, etc.
- Food and drinks like alcohol, citrus fruits caffeine, chocolate, etc.
- Loud noises, stuffy rooms, etc.
- Temperature fluctuations
- Strong smells
Genes might make some more susceptible to the above triggers than others. Scientists are inclined to think that migraines occur as a result of abnormal brain activity which messes with certain blood vessels, chemicals and the manner in which nerves communicate. But that is just guesswork, as there is no strong evidence to back it up.
Types of Migraines
- Stress migraine
- Menstrual migraine
- Cluster migraine
Are There any Treatments?
Unfortunately, no cure is currently available for migraines; however, there are ways in which you can manage the symptoms as they occur. This will not only improve your life but also make the health condition less severe, allowing you to continue with your daily activities without disruption.
For the most part, the type of treatment you are prescribed will be contingent on a variety of factors, such as:
- The kind of migraine that you are suffering from
- Your age
- The frequency and intensity of your migraine flare-ups
- Other conditions you (might) have
- The presence of other symptoms, as in vomiting and nausea
If you have chronic migraine, the best strategy to diminish flare-ups is by avoiding the common triggers.
In order to detect which ones are causing the problem, you had better start a migraine diary where you will write down stuff day in and day out. The information that you will put in there should include the following:
- How long the episode of migraine was (the time it started and ended)
- What food or drinks you had before the flare-up
- If you took any medications
- If you were emotional right before the headaches began
- How you were feeling in general
- Which day of your period you currently are on
Conservative and Alternative Options
Here are the things that may work to mitigate your migraine symptoms.
Migraine can really get you out of your element and even make it impossible to go to work or school. This is why medication is usually the first line of treatment that patients think of. Non-prescription drugs have been proven to reduce the level of pain but of course, you should be careful how much of these you use. Going overboard can actually make your headaches worse. Common ingredients of over-the-counter drugs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen.
Those can help you acquire knowledge about how your system responds to different stimuli like pain and stress. Then, a therapist walks you around some exercises that can help you get more positive reactions.
This is an alternative to traditional medicine that focuses on pressure points in the body to treat different conditions and encourage relaxation. Thin needles are slid into the skin to trigger those points. Like everything else, there are mixed opinions about this method. While some studies indicate that acupuncture is indeed a promising treatment for chronic pain, others are not so affirmative.
Some migraines respond well to massage therapies. Rubbing your muscles and joints with your fingers can promote circulation, relieve tension and spasms, and decrease trigger points. Not only that, it increases the levels of endorphins, the hormones related to joy, and diminishes those of cortisol, which is a stress hormone.
Herbs and nutrients
Some herbal products (feverfew and butterbur) have shown positive results with regard to reducing migraine severity. Vitamins (vitamins B12 and B2), minerals (magnesium), and coenzyme Q10 are effective as well. In case that doesn’t work, antidepressants are also an option.
Minimally Invasive Procedures and Surgery
You may have thought that Botox only works for wrinkles but surprise, surprise - it has other benefits too. The injectable is actually touted as a migraine fighter. However, it won’t work every time. The treatment is endorsed for people who experience persisting headaches for more than a fortnight in the month. Thus, if you haven’t been diagnosed with migraine, it won’t be effective.
Another factor to consider is that botulinum toxin takes time to work, hence more than one treatment is necessary to see maximum results. This is because the effects of each shot last anywhere between two and four months overall.
This one is still in the works, but it has been researched that decompressing the nerves responsible for headaches may, to some extent, reduce severe migraines where no other treatment has been effective.
In order to find out which option will work best for you, you need to try them all and see what is more beneficial. Sometimes a combination of several treatments yields better results.