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The Menace of Migraines - I

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Migraine  related image Photo: Getty Images

Migraines are a complex neurological disease brought on by the disorder of the central nervous system. They are severe and recurrent attacks of headache that may occur on any one or both sides of the head, lasting anything between 2 and 72 hours. (1)

Besides the debilitating pain, migraineurs often experience some symptoms that precede and/or last during the time the migraine episode is on. Here’s a list of some of the symptoms a migraineur may experience before or during an attack:

• Nausea
• Dizziness
• Sleep disturbances
• Visual disturbances/aura
• Hypersensitivity to sound
• Hypersensitivity to light
• Increased sensitivity to odors
• Frequent yawning
• Frequent need to urinate
• Constipation
• Diarrhea
• Non-visual aura
• Confusion
• Fatigue

The exact reason why a migraine attack begins is not yet clear to scientists. However, based on years of data gathered from cases that report for treatment assistance to clinics and hospitals, several migraine triggers have been identified. These triggers vary in people and also from time to time.

Here is an outline of some triggers:

• Calcium deficiency
• Allergy to your own hormones
• Increase in the levels of prostaglandins
• Magnesium deficiency
• Sleep deprivation
• Stress and depression
• Dietary changes
• Sudden and marked fluctuations in the intake levels of caffeine
• Weather and altitude
• Environmental changes (pollution)
• Intake of birth control pills and some prescription medications
• Sinusitis
• Brain tumor
• Trigeminal neuralgia
• High sugar content in food
• Neck-related conditions
• Inflammation of maxillary nerve
• Excessive salt intake through food
• Monosodium Glutamate
• Allergy to chemicals in citrus foods (2)

It is interesting to note that unlike some diseases, migraines has its many types. I have listed some of the more common types below.

• Ocular/Ophthalmoplegic/Ophthalmic/Retinal/Visual/Optical Migraines
Ocular migraines start from the region around the eye (eyelids, eyebrows, eye) and rarely from the temples or head. They are known to affect one eye at a time and may cause the eyelids to droop as the episode progresses. These attacks are often accompanied with vomiting but may not be accompanied by any pain.

Visual distortions usually begin with the center of the image which may become wavy or grey, eventually moving to one side. There is also a possibility in such attacks of the sight being temporarily lost. (3)

• Abdominal Migraines
Abdominal Migraines are noted more in children whose either of the parents experience migraines. These migraines cause severe abdominal pains. It is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and paleness of skin. The pain lasts only a couple of hours and its source is generally identified as genetic and stress-related rather than gastrointestinal.

• Hemiplegic Migraines
Hemiplegic migraines are a subset of the migraines with aura type of severe headaches. These migraines cause debilitating throbbing pain on one side of the head. Such episodes could come along with feeling of weakness, numbness or paralysis on one side of the body, loss of coordination in movements, slurred speech, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, confusion, fatigue, increased sensitivity to light and sound, visual disturbances such as broken images, bright rays of light, zigzag lines that may last longer than they do for other migraine types. (4)

• Basilar Artery Migraines
These are some of the least understood, complicated and potentially dangerous migraines. These migraines are triggered by disturbances in the basilar artery at the stem or the base of the brain. Basilar migraines could include symptoms such as extreme pain at the base of the skull, uncoordinated movements, visual and speech disturbances, dizziness and nausea.


1. Merck Frosst Canada Limited; Migraines Facts and Statistics http://www.merckfrosst.ca/assets/en/pdf/press/product_info/maxalt/df_sheets/Backgrounder-Migraine_FINAL.pdf

2. Migraines For The Informed Woman Tips From A Sufferer – ISBN: 9788129115171; Other triggers That May Set Off Migraines; Pages 16-32; Mamta Singh; 2009

3. Definition of Migraine, Ocular. Medicine Net. Web. 7 Sept. 2011 http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11673

4. Migraines and Headaches Help Center; Hemiplegic Migraines and Headaches. WebMD; Web. 7 Sept. 2011

Basilar Migraines

Abdominal Migraines


Mamta Singh is a published author of the books

Migraines for the Informed Woman – Tips From A Sufferer: ISBN: 978-81-291-1517-1
(Publisher: Rupa & Co. URL: http://www.amazon.com/Migraines-Informed-Woman-Tips-Sufferer/dp/8129115174/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1298990756&sr=1-2),

Mentor Your Mind – Tested Mantras For The Busy Woman: ISBN: 978-81-207-5973-2
(Publisher: Sterling Publishers; URL: http://www.sterlingpublishers.com/search_result.asp) and the upcoming The Urban Woman’s Integrated Fitness Guide (Publisher: Hay House India)

She is also a seasoned business, creative and academic writer. She is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer & sports nutritionist through IFA, Florida USA. Mamta is an NCFE-certified Holistic Health Therapist SAC Dip U.K.

She is the lead writer and holds Expert Author status in many well-received health, fitness and nutrition sites. She runs her own popular blogs on migraines in women and holistic health.

Mamta holds a double Master's Degree in Commerce and Business. She is a registered practitioner with the UN recognised Art of Living Foundation. Please visit www.mamtasingh.com

Reviewed September 8, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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