If you suffer from migraines, you know all too well how debilitating these headaches can be. Understanding the different types of migraines and how to treat them at home can help you manage this challenging condition.
How Migraines Happen
A migraine is a primary headache, meaning it’s not caused by something like a tumor, aneurysm or head trauma. Instead, migraines are usually genetic — most people who get them have a family history of migraines. More than 15 percent of adults in the United States suffer from migraines, and 3 out of 4 migraine sufferers are women. Women also may experience a type of migraine related to their menstrual cycle.
Migraines usually are moderate to severe in intensity and typically feature sensitivity to the environment. Migraines can be sensitive to:
● Changes in barometric pressure
● Hormonal changes
Although they can be incredibly painful, not all migraines are crippling. These headaches occur on a pain spectrum, affecting everyone differently.
Two Types of Migraines
Migraines can be divided into two categories: They can be:
● Chronic, meaning you've had 15 or more headache days per month, with at least eight of them being moderate to severe in intensity, for three months or more.
● Episodic, meaning your migraines don’t meet the criteria to be considered chronic.
Migraines also are grouped according to whether they are accompanied by an aura. An aura is a sensory disturbance that happens alongside a migraine, often beforehand. About 25 percent of people with migraines experience auras.
The most common auras are visual — black or hazy spots in your field of vision, or even streaks of light. Other auras may manifest as dizziness and nausea, or numbness and tingling on one side of the body.
Treating Migraines at Home
Migraines are related to nervous system sensitivity, so one of the best things you can do to manage migraines is stick to a routine. Eating meals at the same time every day and maintaining a consistent bedtime can help prevent nervous system disturbances that may cause migraines to develop.
Another way to keep migraines at bay is to know your triggers. For some people it’s monosodium glutamate (MSG) or wine, while for others it’s too much caffeine or lack of sleep. Some migraine sufferers find keeping a journal helps them identify their migraine triggers.
If you do get a migraine despite your best efforts, try:
● Drinking water
● Going to a dark, silent room
● Putting a cold compress on your head
When To See the Doctor
Although migraines are common and often can be treated at home, there are times when medical care may be needed. You should see a healthcare provider if:
● You are having four or more moderate to severe headache days a month.
● Your headaches are affecting your ability to work or complete daily tasks.
● You're having neurologic symptoms like numbness or weakness.
● You're over 50 and suddenly get a headache when you've never had headaches before.
Your doctor can work with you to help determine if what you’re experiencing is a migraine and create a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
Choose to Stay in Touch
Sign up to receive the latest health news and trends, wellness & prevention tips, and much more from Orlando Health.Sign Up