Migraine – Symptoms and diagnosis explained
Migraines may start out as a normal headache but progress rapidly, resulting in a series of painful headaches and associated discomforts. A migraine attack subsides within a couple of hours, but if the pain and headache persist, imaging tests and blood tests would be recommended to rule out other conditions that can trigger severe migraines. Doctors then decide on the best course of treatment after assessing the severity of the condition.
Note that the discomforts vary depending on the type of migraine.
Common symptoms include increased sensitivity to light, odors, and noise. This could also trigger dizziness and blurriness, affecting one’s vision.
Nausea and vomiting are follow-up symptoms that get worse with increased sensitivity. Due to that, many people may experience loss of appetite, as anything eaten could be expelled due to an upset stomach or abdominal pain.
Migraines can also trigger unexplained bouts of tiredness and extreme fatigue. Changes in the body’s temperature can lead to an unexplained feeling of warmth or chills. Sometimes, a person could also develop fever and diarrhea.
Migraines develop in four distinct phases and worsen as the condition progresses. This includes the prodromal stage that lasts a couple of days, affecting the mood and triggering visual symptoms and sensory discomfits. The third phase begins with intolerable throbbing and headache and concludes with the postdromal phase that feels like a heavy hangover.
An intense pulsing, throbbing headache is the first sign of developing migraine. And if these sensations are prominent on one side of the head, accompanied by nausea, fatigue, and sensory distress, immediate medical attention is advisable.
Doctors advise getting imaging tests, like Computer Tomography (CT) scan or Magnetic Resource Imaging (MRI), to rule out abnormal brain activity, tumors, or even the risk of a stroke.
Blood tests are done to check the complete blood count, electrolyte levels, thyroid tests, encephalogram, electrocardiograph, and a lumbar puncture.
All these tests are primarily done to rule out chronic conditions or health complications that may trigger a migraine as a warning symptom.
Treatment for migraines
There are several ways to treat migraine attacks.
Changes in lifestyle
Migraines cannot be cured completely, but healthy changes in lifestyle can help overcome several symptoms and promote a better quality of life. For example, foods that trigger migraines can be avoided. Moreover, eating smaller meals spread throughout the day and staying hydrated helps in the long run. Exercising helps the body release feel-good hormones to manage certain symptoms. Alternative therapies, like meditation, yoga, and mindfulness training, also help in the long run.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications can counter nausea and provide relief from mild to moderate symptoms. However, acute and preventive medications are only a temporary cure, as prolonged ingestion can worsen headaches.
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