Migraine headaches are also known as vascular headaches. These headaches are probably related to changes in the caliber, or size, or the blood vessels of the head. There are several different patterns of migraine headaches. These include classic migraine. In this type of headache there is an aura preceding it that might include visual problems, such as altered images, loss of vision, lights or colors in the field of vision. Common migraine headache does not have any symptoms before the onset of the headache. Last, complicated migraine produces neurological symptoms that might persist even after the headache has disappeared, such as weakness or numbness. Occasionally, these neurological problems can be permanent. The headache is usually intense and incapacitating. It usually on one side of the head, with other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and visual problems. They can last from 2 to 72 hours, and can occur weekly or once a year. They are more common in females. There is a family history of migraine headaches in about half of the people that develop them.
Causes of Headache, Migraine
The initial phase of migraine, that is the one that leads to an aura, is thought to be caused when the blood vessels that go to the scalp and brain become constricted. This leads to a decreased in the blood flow to certain regions of the brain. Due to this ischemia, or diminished blood flow, the cells do not function normally. As this phase ends, the vessels become dilated and at times inflamed. The headache pain seems to correspond to this physiological change. Many different things may trigger an attack, or the attack may come on spontaneously. Tension, menstruation, use of oral contraceptives, fatigue, alcohol, certain foods, and missing meals are all correlated with the onset of migraine headaches. Emotional problems are also a trigger, but headaches donít necessarily coincide with emotional upset and may occur on weekends when stress is decreased.
Signs and Symptoms of Headache, Migraine
The nature of attacks varies, but symptoms of a classic migraine attack appear in a typical order. An aura precedes the headache. This aura is actually part of the migraine headache, It is thought to be due to compromised blood flow to certain portions of the brain. It may affect vision, hearing, or smell, to name a few areas. The symptoms may last several minutes or several hours, but they disappear once the headache begins. The headache is usually severe, boring pain, often in the temple or around the eye. The pain spreads to the entire side of the head and becomes intense and throbbing. Frequently, nausea, vomiting, paleness, bloodshot & runny eyes, and runny nose develops. There is quite a significant degree of variability. In common migraine, the headaches are similar to that described above. However, there are no neurological symptoms that precede the headache. In complicated migraine, neurological symptoms develop that might outlast the headache. These include symptoms such as weakness, numbness or speech problems. Sometimes, the changes in the blood vessels in the brain may be so severe so as to lead to a stroke. Under these conditions, the symptoms may persist, indefinitely.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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