There are many types of headaches. Migraine headaches are a chronic disorder, often genetically related, and they affect as many as 28 million Americans.
The pain of a migraine headache is characteristically throbbing, and is associated with sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine headaches are often accompanied by nausea.
Some patients who suffer from migraine headaches will find their migraine attack preceded by signs known as “auras” that include flashes of light or tingling in the extremities. Irritability or depression may occur in advance of the headache.
Four Stages of Migraine Headaches:
There are four stages of a migraine, but all migraine sufferers do not experience every stage.
- Prodrome is the period a day or two before a migraine headache, and it is characterized by stiffness in the neck, constipation, irritability, yawning, and depression.
- The aura is the next stage, and is related to visual symptoms as a result of changes in the central nervous system.
- During the migraine attack itself, severe and throbbing pain may occur on one or both sides of the head, with light and sound sensitivity, blurred vision, lightheadedness, and nausea or vomiting.
- The postdromal phase results in resolution of the headache with a sensation of exhaustion. Some people experience euphoric relief.
When a migraine sufferer experiences a headache, the attack may last a few hours or may persist for days. Resting quietly in a dark room can relieve the pain, but normally medications are required to treat the severe symptoms of a migraine headache. Some patients may even suffer loss of vision or stroke-like symptoms that include sensory changes or problems with speech.
If you have chronic headaches, you may be experiencing migraines. If you have symptoms like those listed above, you should see a specialist for diagnosis. There are treatments that can prevent onset of migraine headache – we even created a list of tips to help prevent them.
Headaches may be caused by a variety of problems, some of which are very serious and include aneurysms in the brain. If you experience changes in the type of headache you normally notice, or if you have a sudden and very severe headache that you may characterize as “the worst headache of my life,” you should see a physician immediately. Any new headache pain that occurs in adulthood could also herald a serious condition and should be diagnosed. We offer weekday and weekend appointments. You can find us at our conveniently located clinics in West Orange, Aberdeen, and Lyndhurst.