A migraine is a headache that often comes with a pulsing sensation or a throbbing pain mainly affecting one side of the head. It is often accompanied by vomiting, nausea, and increased sensitivity to sound and light. A migraine attack can last anywhere between a few hours to several days. In some instances, the pain can reach a level high enough to interfere with your daily activities. In some cases, you will experience warning symptoms, referred to as an aura, before having a migraine. The signs may include blind spots or flashes of light or tingling in an arm, leg, or one side of the face, and trouble speaking. A Rockville migraines specialist can recommend medications and treatment options that prevent migraines and make them less severe.
Migraines can affect people of all ages, including children. They can progress through four different stages, namely prodrome, aura, attack, and post-prodrome. However, you may not go through all stages when you have a migraine.
You may notice some changes that warn you of an impending migraine attack a day or two before the actual migraine. They include constipation, mood changes from depression to aura, food cravings, neck stiffness, frequent yawning, and fluid retention.
The occurrence of the aura varies from one patient to another. You may experience it before or during a migraine attack. Most auras are visual, but they can also include other interferences. Although every symptom starts gradually, it gets more severe over several minutes and can last up to an hour. Some examples of auras associated with migraines include:
- Vision phenomena like seeing bright spots or flashes of light and different shapes
- Temporary vision loss
- Tingling sensations in the arms or legs
- Numbness or weakness in one side of the body or face
- Trouble speaking
If untreated, a migraine can last anywhere between four to seventy-two hours. The frequency of migraine varies from patient to patient. You can have them rarely or multiple times a month. During a migraine, you may have:
- Pain on one or both sides of the head
- Pulsing or throbbing pain
- Sensitivity to light, as well as smell and touch in some cases
- Vomiting and nausea
After recovering from a migraine, you will feel confused, drained, and washed out for up to a day. In some cases, you may feel elated. Moving the head suddenly may cause the pain again, albeit shortly.
When Should You See a Doctor?
Most people do not seek diagnosis and treatment for migraines. If you experience migraine symptoms regularly, record the attacks and how you treat them. If you have a history of migraines, see a doctor if the pattern of the attacks changes.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience:
- A sudden severe headache
- A headache accompanied by a fever, confusion, a stiff neck, double vision, numbness or weakness, or seizures
- Headache following a head injury
- A chronic headache that gets worse with coughing, exertion, sudden movement, or straining
- New headache pain after age 50
In summary, a migraine is a headache that often comes with a pulsing sensation or a throbbing pain mainly affecting one side of the head. It has four stages, namely prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome, but you may not experience all of them. Common symptoms include vision phenomena, trouble speaking, vomiting, and nausea. Before visiting a doctor, record the attacks and how you treat them.