Migraines are often a debilitating and extremely painful form of headache that causes nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Only those who suffer from migraines can understand how significantly it can affect one’s life.
People who have migraine headaches are sometimes prescribed medication or other treatments to deal with their symptoms. Over-the-counter headache medicines are simply ineffective.
There are two types of migraines: episodic and chronic. People with episodic migraines have headache attacks that can last for hours, but another episode might not occur for several weeks or months. People with chronic migraines endure headaches that last longer and have a higher frequency. Some who have episodic migraines will develop into chronic migraines.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, at least 1 in 4 households has someone with migraine. They report that most people with migraines have only a few attacks per month, but those with chronic migraines, roughly 2% of the population, experience at least 15 headache days per month.
Symptoms of Chronic Migraines
In order for migraines to be considered chronic, symptoms must occur for 15 days of every month for three consecutive months. There must also be two of the following symptoms involved with each episode for the condition to be chronic:
- The pain affects only one side of the head
- The pain is moderate to severe
- Throbbing sensation on the side of the skull affected by the headache
- Everyday activities like walking or cleaning make the pain worse
If you are experiencing any of the above, talk to your doctors or healthcare professionals about your symptoms. Keeping a headache diary, noting the length and severity of each migraine attack, can help your doctor make a diagnosis and help you recognize the risk factors and warning signs.
Also, be careful about how you treat your migraines. Regular, long-term use of headache medicine can cause a medication overuse headache.
Causes of Chronic Migraines
The exact reason chronic migraines occur continues to elude doctors and researchers. Scientists believe that some of the following conditions could provide an answer:
- Chemical Imbalance. Migraine headaches may happen when the brain’s chemicals are unevenly matched or neural pathways are blocked.
- Central Nervous System Disorder. It is believed that a migraine might be triggered by an underlying neurological condition.
- Genetics. Chances of having a migraine increase if a parent or sibling has experienced it
- Vascular Problems. Improper blood flow to the brain because of problems with the shape and size of the blood vessels to and from your brain.
- Various Conditions. Some may experience migraines as a symptom of another serious condition like meningitis, brain tumors, traumatic brain injury, and stroke.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have been studying the role genetics and environment play in migraines by developing neuroimaging techniques to examine the brain.
Treating Chronic Migraines
Possible courses of treatment for chronic migraines may include medication, alternative remedies, and a change in lifestyle.
Most doctors will prescribe some sort of medication for chronic migraines. Depending on your doctor’s diagnosis, you will either use medication meant to be taken at the onset of a migraine attack or taken every day to prevent the severity of the headache.
Almotriptan and eletriptan are two types of medications that are prescribed to be taken when you feel a migraine coming on. Doctors have also had some success prescribing antiseizure medications and antidepressants to reduce the effects of migraines.
Changing Your Habits
For many people, one such preventive treatment of migraines is changing your lifestyle. By reducing stress and relaxing more, like taking up meditation, you can help prevent migraines.
Other steps that can be taken to treat migraines include acupuncture, massage, and avoiding certain foods.
Learn More About Clinical Trials in Boston
Are you interested in participating in a clinical trial for migraines in Boston? We have a wide variety of clinical trials available if you qualify and meet specific criteria.