Migraine (chronic, with aura): causes, symptoms, medicine and +

Migraine is a chronic brain disease, which presents itself mainly in the form of headaches. But did you know that there are many other symptoms related to it?

This disease, which affects 15% of the Brazilian population, can cause nausea, sensitivity to odors and even visual changes.

Are you curious to know if your headache could be a migraine? So take advantage of the tips and information we have brought for you!

What is migraine?

Migraine, also known as hemialgia , is a neurological, genetic and chronic disease, characterized by an intense headache, often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.

It is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, which includes neurons and neurotransmitters, affecting 1 in 7 adults, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

As a consequence, migraine causes pain that can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and intolerance to some stimuli, such as light, sounds and smells.

Considered a type of headache (headache), the condition affects mainly women, who are about 20% to 30% of patients.

Migraine can be found in ICD-10 under the G43 classification and in subclassifications such as:

  • G43.0: Migraine without aura (common migraine);
  • G43.1: Migraine with aura (classic migraine);
  • G43.3 : Complicated migraine;
  • G43.8: Other forms of migraine;
  • G43.9: Migraine, unspecified.

Migraine crisis

Some people suffer from migraine attacks (which are the period of pain) and end up preventing daily activities.

However, it is necessary to be aware of the frequency of these pains and the amount of medications ingested. This is because the excessive use of painkillers can end up triggering future crises.

The important thing in these cases is to consult a neurologist or general practitioner to expose your complaints and, in some cases, to start preventive treatment.

Types

There are different types of migraine that were classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1988. Among the most common types we have aura and without aura.

Migraine with aura

The type with aura affects about 10% to 15% of patients with migraine. It is characterized by visual hallucinations, which can be flashes of light, bright images, loss of part of the visual field (duplicate vision) or blurred vision.

In addition, this type of pain may enable some other symptoms, which may include:

  • Numbness or tingling;
  • Dizziness;
  • Vertigo;
  • Weakness.

These symptoms indicate they are usually transient and of short duration.

It is worth mentioning that the type with aura can be treated and prevented with the use of medications, so consult a doctor and make a detailed assessment.

Migraine without aura

About 70% to 90% of people with migraine have migraine without aura. The type can be characterized by pain on one side of the head only, which worsens with exercise or physical strength.

It is possible to experience nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, or even to present diarrhea .

Chronic migraine

Considered a migraine subtype, it is defined by a period with more than 15 days of headache per month, for a period of three months and may or may not have aura.

Chronic migraine can occur due to several factors, among which we can mention:

  • Stress;
  • Irregular sleep;
  • Exposure to strong noises and odors;
  • Ingestion of foods that favor migraines, such as coffee;
  • Variations in hormone levels;
  • Intense physical activities;
  • Fasting for a long time.

Although each organism has unique characteristics, these causes are, in general, very common among people who suffer from the condition.

Menstrual migraine

Menstrual migraine is associated with falling levels of estrogen (female hormone) in women who are menstruating.

This type of migraine has no aura and can start just before menstruation (about 2 days) or manifest itself with the bleeding, and can last until the end of it.

Hemiplegic migraine

Considered a variant of migraine, the word hemiplegic means paralysis on one side of the body. That is, people who experience temporary weakness on one side of the body associated with headaches may be experiencing a hemiplegic migraine.

People with this type of migraine may experience difficulties in speech and vision problems, which can frighten those who have these symptoms, since they are similar to a stroke.

It is important to note that hemiplegic migraine is associated with poor distribution of neurotransmitters that release serotonin abnormally, causing these symptoms.

Therefore, it is important to consult a specialist doctor to explain the onset and development of the disease in each specific case.

Migraine in pregnancy

 

During pregnancy, the woman has several normal hormonal changes during the period. This makes it possible for pregnant women to present a more frequent picture of migraine attacks.

However, it is necessary to redouble care regarding medication during pregnancy, seeking alternative measures to relieve pain.

There are treatments that, when prescribed by the doctor, are safe for the pregnant woman, but the ideal is, whenever possible, to avoid the excessive, continuous or exaggerated use of medications.

It is possible, for example, to resort to techniques such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation, in addition to remembering to rest and hydrate as much as possible.

Read more: Can pregnant women take acetaminophen? Know the dosage and risks

Causes: What can cause migraine?

Migraine is a disease caused by a biochemical imbalance in the brain, causing people to be predisposed to pain. But, in addition, the lifestyle and behaviors can assist in the manifestation of the condition.

Remembering that the factors are different for each person and can vary at each time of life.

Among the causes we can mention:

Environmental factors

People susceptible to migraine are more sensitive to environmental changes, such as climatic issues (rain, wind, cold) or exposure to very strong sunlight.

In response, the body produces a series of electrical impulses that result in pain.

Foods

Some foods have substances that can cause migraine attacks, especially those with compounds that act directly on blood vessels.

The change in flow, whether due to constriction or dilation, is involved in the onset of pain. Among the substances most associated with pain are:

  • Tyramine (for example, cheese, meat, sausages, olives, dried fruit, bread, pasta);
  • Phenylethylamine (chocolate, peanuts, nuts, eggs.);
  • Nitrites (food derived from meat and cheese);
  • Monosodium glutamate (preserved foods, snacks, canned products);
  • Alcohol.

Medicines

Overuse of medications can also trigger a migraine attack.

That’s because, when we abuse some pain medication, the body reduces the production of endorphins (painkillers naturally produced by the body), which makes us more susceptible to a crisis.

In such cases, it is necessary to seek a specialist doctor, to do a detox and treat the disease properly.

Behavioral factors

It is important to be aware that the physical and emotional aspects will determine how the organism should behave. That is, changes in sleep patterns, depression , stress , excessive physical activity, among other factors, help trigger a migraine attack.

Risk factors

Some characteristics and situations can aggravate the chances of developing a migraine. This condition needs to be diagnosed by a neurologist, so that understanding the symptoms is easier.

Thinking about it, we brought some risk factors that can contribute to the development of the disease, look:

  • Allergy (rain, cold, pollution);
  • Altitude (this is because as the altitude increases, the atmospheric pressure decreases, making the air thinner. As a consequence, migraine attacks);
  • Situations of stress, physical or mental effort (these situations affect blood flow and can expand or constrict blood vessels, causing pain);
  • Exposure to very loud noises.

Read more: Understand what can cause headaches in childhood

Migraine symptoms

In addition to pain, which is a characteristic symptom of migraine, it is possible to present some others that occur before, during and after a crisis, including:

  • Photophobia (intolerance to light);
  • Phonophobia (intolerance to noise);
  • Osmophobia (odor intolerance);
  • Nausea;
  • Weakness;
  • Tingling and numbness in the body;
  • Dizziness;
  • Blurry vision;
  • Irritability.

Migraine episodes can, in general, be marked by 4 phases, divided between: premonitory, aura, headache and resolution. Understand better below:

Premonitory

This is the initial stage of migraine, which can be noticed up to 72 hours before the headache. It consists of a set of other symptoms, such as irritability, difficulty concentrating, fatigue , yawning and the desire to eat sweets.

Aura

The aura is a symptom that can appear before or along with the headache, and can last for up to an hour. It is characterized by visual and sensitive changes (tingling) that are gaining greater intensity. Generally, after the aura, the headache is intensified.

Headache

This phase can be described as throbbing pain, on only one side of the head, and can last from 4 hours to 3 days. You may experience nausea and vomiting associated with headache, as well as sensitivity to light, sound and smell.

Resolution

Also known as the “hangover phase”, it resembles the first (premonitory). It is possible to feel fatigue, drowsiness and difficulty concentrating.

Remembering that an individual does not necessarily need to show all symptoms in order to be diagnosed with migraine.

How is the diagnosis made?

Migraine diagnoses are all clinical, through a medical evaluation. Therefore, whenever there is a symptom or a set of symptoms, it is recommended to seek a neurologist.

It is necessary to report the family history and, in some cases, it may be necessary to carry out some tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging of the brain (non-invasive imaging test), in order to identify whether there are other factors causing the pain.

In addition, the doctor may feel the need to ask some questions related to your lifestyle and the pains you experience, such as:

  • How long are the symptoms?
  • Do you feel pain on one side of your head only?
  • Do you have visual symptoms?
  • Do you have any more symptoms before the headache starts?
  • Does your pain start after overexertion?

Based on the reports and the absence of other conditions (for example, infections or tumors), the diagnosis is made.

Is there a cure?

No . Because it is a complex disease and difficult to diagnose, it currently has no cure. However, there are several medications for pain prevention and control, which we will address below.

What is the treatment?

There is no standard treatment for migraine, so the main measure is related to prevention.

For this, it is important to adopt measures that prevent crises, which can be done with the use of medications prescribed by the doctor or alternative methods and relaxing therapies.

Adopting healthy habits such as good nutrition, physical exercise and maintaining a balanced sleep routine are essential to prevent crises. The objective is to avoid new crises and reduce their intensity.

Medicines

There are two groups of drugs for the treatment of migraines, which are divided into:

  • Acute medications – analgesics administered at the time the pain begins;
  • Prophylactic drugs – act to prevent pain.

It is worth mentioning the importance of consulting a neurologist or responsible physician, in addition to always reading the package insert and contraindications for any medication that may be prescribed.

Analgesics (anti-migraine)

The use of these drugs is specifically indicated for pain and should be done, preferably, at the onset of pain symptoms.

Among the options are:

  • Sumatriptan succinate ( Imigran , Sumax , Sutriptan )
  • Naratriptan hydrochloride ( Naramig , Naranety , Naratano , Naratrin , Narcef ).

Beta blockers

These drugs are intended to block the effects of the adrenaline hormone. Its use helps to decrease the frequency, duration and intensity of migraine attacks.

Among the options is Metoprolol Succinate ( Selozok , Zarmine , Emprol XR , Inephoros XR ).

Calcium channel antagonists

These drugs act as releasers of pain-related mediators. That is, they can help prevent pain and are generally indicated for continuous use.

During treatment, the doctor in charge may vary the required duration. However, before using any medication, consult a neurologist or general practitioner. Some medications are:

  • Cinnarizine ( Fluxon , Stugeron , Antigeron , Civertim ).
  • Flunarizine dihydrochloride ( Flunarin , Vertigium , Fluvert , Vertix , Fluzix ).

Attention!

NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Home remedies

There are some natural and homemade options that can help in combating migraine and relieving symptoms. However, it is essential to reinforce the importance of not abandoning treatments or medical follow-up.

Tea

Teas can be good allies in reducing pain. The ginger , for example, has anti-inflammatory properties which assist in combating migraine. It is recommended that you prepare a tea with the root in boiled water and leave it to infuse for a few minutes.

Chamomile is also recommended to help combat migraines and other headaches. To consume it, make an infusion with dry chamomile and boiling water and let it infuse for approximately 10 minutes.

Aromatherapy

Some essential oils such as melissa, lavender, chamomile and rosemary can be effective in combating migraines through relaxation.

It is possible to drop a few drops on a cloth and place it on the head and neck. Another way is to boil the oils with water and breathe in the steam.

Living together: how to relieve crises?

 

Most migraine sufferers seek immediate solutions in times of pain. But to help in crisis control there are simple options to put into practice and live better with the condition:

Take care of the posture

Consider making a continuous effort to maintain good posture. This avoids neck pain and muscle tension, which end up contributing to migraine.

A good tip is to use alarm clocks throughout the day that remind you to take care of your posture. Also, consider yoga classes, stretching or other exercises for structural alignment of the body, facilitating the process.

Practice exercises

Try strolling in areas close to your home, take time to observe the plants and flowers or even to sit under a tree. In addition to relaxing, walking (albeit light) helps to reduce the risk of crises.

Practicing physical exercises considerably decreases the amount of pain episodes. However, look for activities that do not require as much physical effort, such as walking, stretching, pilates , swimming or dance classes.

Read more: Exercise can prevent Alzheimer’s and improve memory

Avoid overuse of medications

Excessive medication use is directly related to headache in general. This abuse can help to reduce the level of serotonin in the blood, causing migraine induction to occur.

Sleep well

Lack of sleep is one of the main triggers of migraine, so maintaining regular sleep times is essential.

To do this, limit the use of cell phones or electronics until half an hour before bedtime, take care of stimulating foods at night and look for ways to reduce stress.

These practices improve the process of relaxing muscles and brain activity.

Read more: Natural remedy for sleep: 6 home treatment options

Maintain a healthy and colorful diet

There is a great relationship between digestive problems and migraine. Drinking plenty of water during the day and maintaining healthy meals helps to preserve your healthy gut and reduce the risk of migraine attacks.

In addition, avoid fasting for a long time, always establishing a food routine every three hours.

Another alternative to prevent pain is to avoid foods that can trigger migraine attacks, such as chocolate, caffeine or alcoholic beverages.

Train your brain

Betting on mindfulness practices, such as mindfulness and yoga, has been shown to decrease migraine attacks. Studies show that half an hour of practice per day is able to decrease the duration and intensity of migraines.

The practice of yoga can be considered a complementary treatment for headaches, since it relieves tension and increases blood circulation in the body. In addition, it aims to calm the mind, thereby reducing stress.

Prognosis

Migraine is a condition that affects the patient’s life and often disrupts daily activities. However, if it is diagnosed and treated correctly, it is a pathology that can be resolved or, in some cases, have the symptoms diminished.

However, if left untreated, it can lead to complications, especially in the patient’s quality of life.

Complications

It is extremely important that people do not associate migraine with freshness or just a headache. This is because patients have a higher risk of vascular complications than those without migraine.

The causes are still unclear, but there is research that points to a higher prevalence of infarction and stroke in patients with chronic migraine.

In addition, this condition can also cause personal limitations, such as going out to work, taking a walk, and sometimes it can have emotional consequences, such as anxiety and depression.

So, if you have any symptoms or a set of symptoms, be sure to see a neurologist. It is important to diagnose the disease in order to be able to make a specific treatment.

How to prevent migraine?

There are some everyday practices that can prevent migraines. Lifestyle and some habits can be rethought in order to prevent migraines.

  • Avoid fatty foods and alcoholic beverages;
  • Maintain an adequate sleep routine;
  • Don’t skip meals;
  • Avoid strong or irritating smells;
  • Do not smoke;
  • Avoid temperature changes;
  • Control stress and anxiety;
  • Exercise regularly;
  • Calm down with relaxation techniques;
  • Drink a lot of water.

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