How often have we heard one of our family members, friends or colleagues say “I have a headache”?
Today, in India more than one third of women and one fifth of men suffer from Migraine. Migraine is defined as a recurrent throbbing headache that typically affects one side of the head and is often accompanied by other symptoms that vary from person to person. Notably, 75% of migraine sufferers are women caused mainly due to hormonal changes. Stress and lifestyle changes are contributing factors as well. Migraine often occurs in phases; a prodrome phase (first), the attack (pain) and a postdrome phase (last).
So what are the signs of Migraine?
Aura can be described as visual effects seen as white spots, images or blurry vision that usually begin thirty minutes to one hour before the actual migraine attack. Not all the migraine sufferers experience this problem. Sometimes aura can occur without been followed by an attack. It is important to know about this because premenopausal women who experience aura are at a higher risk of stroke.
2. Mood Changes
Migraine is often associated with mood changes such as depression, irritability or excitement usually a day or two prior to the attack. Research suggests the possibility of depression and migraine linked genetically.
Some people experience nausea in addition to other signs and symptoms. Sometimes nausea is accompanied with vomiting and diarrhea.
4. Pain on one side
Migraine pains occur on one side of the head and are often described as pounding or gnawing. Pain can also occur over the eye sockets. People also complain about stiffness of neck.
5. Sensitivity to Light or Sound
Migraine “triggers” can also be severe sensitivity to light or sound and in certain cases smell. Sometimes people also complain about sensitive skin. Persons experiencing migraine often want to stay away from lights in a dark room and often complain of increased pain when exposed to light, sound or smell.
6. Uncontrollable Yawning
Uncontrollable or excessive yawning starts a day or two before the actual attack of migraine. This yawning can be annoying but is also an early warning sign to take an action to prevent the start of the attack. It can be accompanied by food cravings, tiredness and feeling weak or lethargic.
7. Pins & Needles
Tingling or numbness in fingertips, arms, legs or face is another sign of migraine. This can happen during the attack of pain or during the aura phase.
8. Frequent Urination
Frequent trips to the restroom is another sign of migraine and is often known to start couple of days or even an hour before the attack in what is known as the prodrome phase of migraine.
9. Lack of sleep
Waking up tired because of lack of sleep and inability to sleep are common problems of migraine. This affects the intensity of the attack as well.
10. Post Headache Hangover
Also known as the postdrome phase, it is the last phase of migraine that occurs after the pain. It is characterized by a feeling of a hangover where people feel tired, drained and in some cases euphoric.
These key signs can help you in recognizing migraines and in deciding when to seek medical attention.