The precise cause is unknown. Among the suspected causes are:
Physiologic (menstruation, puberty)
A trigger sets the process in motion. It is possible that the nervous system reacts to the trigger by conducting electrical activity. This spreads across the brain. It leads to the release of brain chemicals. These make blood vessels swell. It may be this inflammation that causes pain and other symptoms.
The risk of having a migraine over a lifetime is up to 20%-25%.
Factors that increase your chance for migraines may include:
Sex: adult females, but more common in male children than female
—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the head
—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body
The doctor may order blood tests or other tests before starting treatment.
Reduce headache severity and frequency
Restore your ability to function
Improve quality of life
Treatment options include:
are often needed to ease or stop the pain. Over-the-counter pain pills may ease mild symptoms.
Regular use of some over-the-counter medications may cause a rebound headache.
Some prescription medications act directly to stop the cause of the migraine headache. These include drugs that:
Quiet nerve pathways
Bind receptors for serotonin, a brain chemical
These drugs can be taken by mouth. They may act more quickly in forms that dissolve in the mouth, are inhaled through the nose, or injected. Your doctor can help you choose the medication best for you.
Medications that can stop a migraine once it has begin include:
Other drugs can help prevent migraines for people with frequent migraines. Preventive drugs are taken every day. Classes of preventative medications include:
Calcium channel blockers
In some people, migraines are triggered when a nerve in the head is stimulated. With this type of surgery, the doctor finds the nerve trigger point in the head and deactivates it. This surgery may reduce the number of migraines or completely eliminate them in sufferers who do not respond to conventional treatments.
Self-Care During the Migraine
Apply cold compresses to painful areas of your head.
Lie in a dark, quiet room.
Apply constant pressure to your temples.
Try to fall asleep.
Keep a diary. It will help identify what triggers migraines and what helps relieve them.
Learn stress management and relaxation techniques.
Consider talking with a counselor. They can help you learn new coping skills and relaxation techniques.
If you are a smoker,
. Smoking may worsen a migraine. It probably also increases the rare chance of
during a migraine attack.
(especially true if you are a woman taking birth control pills or other hormone replacement therapy)
Avoid foods that trigger migraines.
Eat regular meals.
Maintain your regular sleep pattern even during the weekend or on vacation.
If you are diagnosed with a migraine, follow your doctor's
Methods for preventing migraine include:
Avoiding those things that trigger the headache.
Establishing other healthy habits.
Maintain regular sleep patterns.
Learn stress management techniques.
Do not skip meals.
Avoid red wine and other alcohol.
Foods are not proven to trigger migraine, but consider keeping a diary of migraine and diet to identify foods that may trigger migraines for you. Foods suspected to trigger migraine include:
Nuts and peanut butter
Beans (eg, lima, navy, pinto, and others)
Aged or cured meats
Processed or canned meat
Caffeine (intake or withdrawal)
Buttermilk or sour cream
Anything with MSG (monosodium glutamate), tyramine, or nitrates
12/16/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
: Jena S, Witt CM, Brinkhaus B, Wegscheider K, Willich SN. Acupuncture in patients with headache.
2/5/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
: Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Manheimer E, Vickers A, White A. Acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev.
11/10/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
: Guyuron B, Reed D, Kriegler JS, Davis J, Pashmini N, Amini S. A placebo-controlled surgical trial of the treatment of migraine headaches.
Plast Reconstr Surg.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a