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Everything You Want to Know About Migraine

Last updated on : 04 Jun, 2024

Read time : 8 min

What is Migraine?

A migraine is a severe headache in which you experience intolerable throbbing pain or pulsation on one side of the head. During migraine attacks, you may also experience severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, and light and sound sensitivity. These attacks can last 4 hours to 3 days and make you incapable of performing your daily activities. It is also called a common migraine or migraine without aura. It is a sensation that intimates you of a migraine attack. Know more about its types, symptoms, causes, medications preventive measures and tips to manage migraine.

Types of Migraine

Depending on the origin and severity, migraine is of 7 types. These are as follows:

  1. Migraine without aura: It is also called the common migraine with recurrent headaches. It lasts from 4 to 72 hours and experienced on one side of the head. 
  2. Migraine with aura: During this type of migraine, you experience recurrent migraine attacks lasting from 5 minutes to 1 hour. It is typically marked by visual, sensory, speech and language, motor, and visual disturbances, along with the symptoms of usual migraines.
  3. Chronic migraine: It is a severe form of migraine. The headaches lasts for 15 or more days in a month for over three months. 
  4. Status migraine: It is an intense migraine attack that lasts more than 3 days.
  5. Probable migraine: It is a symptomatic migraine attack that is prevalent in the general population.
  6. Recurrent gastrointestinal migraine: These migraine attacks trigger due to abdominal pain and discomfort, nausea, and vomiting.
  7. Menstrual migraine: This type of migraine is experienced during the menstrual cycle due to fluctuation in hormonal levels. It can cause more throbbing pain than a common migraine attack.

Causes of Migraine 

Migraine attacks occur dur to abnormal activities in brain. It results in the dilation of blood vessels, resulting in pain and further nerve activation. In most cases, migraine attack occurs due to triggers. The common trigger of migraine is stress. In other cases, hormonal changes during menstruation, ovulation, and pregnancy can also cause migraine. The other causes for migraine include:

  • Skipping meals 
  • Dehydration
  • Climate change 
  • Pressure change
  • Poor air quality
  • Excessive or insufficient sleep 
  • Strong odours from perfumes, and petrol pumps
  • Neck pain 
  • Exposure to bright light 
  • Alcohol and smoking 
  • Food with aspartame (artificial sweetener) and monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Travelling
  • Exercise and sexual activity in rare cases
  • Genetic inheritance

Symptoms of Migraine 

The symptoms of migraine progress over four stages. These are recognised as prodrome, aura, headache, and post-drome. The symptoms for stage 1 appear 1 to 2 days before headache onset. You can experience mood change, lethargy, yawning, light sensitivity, restlessness, sound sensitivity, sweating, and difficulties in focusing vision. In stage 2 or aura, you may experience prickling sensation on either side of the face or a limb, flashes of light and changes in vision or speech. The symptoms of stage 3 are noticable and start interfering your daily activities. The main symptoms of migraine include:

  • One-sided pain in the head 
  • Pain is pulsatile or throbbing 
  • Intensity of pain increases within the first hours
  • Nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, sound, and smell

During stage 4 or Post-drome, the headache starts subsiding. You may experience exhaustion, dizziness, difficulty in concentrating during this stage.

Read More: Pre-migraine Symptoms: When to Call a Doctor?

Treatment for Migraine

The migraine treatment involves controlling triggering and managing lifestyle. If your symptoms do not improve with these changes, you may have to take medications to reduce the intensity of attacks. Following therapies may also help control the recurrence of migraine attacks. 

  • Cognitive therapy: This therapy aims to treat depression, anxiety, and psychological distress in migraine patients.
  • Acupuncture: It can be used as a first-line treatment of migraine when the preventive medicines are ineffective. Ten acupuncture sessions for 5 to 8 weeks may help improve chronic headaches during migraine attacks.
  • Electrical stimulation: This procedure involves the uses of electrical current, voltage, or induction of currents to improve nerve functioning.

Read More: Natural Home Remedies for Migraine

Risk Factors for Migraine

Several risk factors are responsible for the severity or progression of migraine. These include:

  • Middle age: You may experience migraine at any age, but in most cases it occurs before age 45 and during middle age.
  • Head injury: Any previous brain injuryor trauma can also trigger migraine symptoms.
  • Excess Caffeine: Having too much coffee and even withdrawing can also trigger migraine.
  • Stress and Depression: High stress levels and depression can also cause migraine.
  • Sleep issues: If you have sleep disorders, like insomnia or sleep-related breathing disorders, you may be at higher risk of migraine attacks.
  • Obesity: obesity can also trigger chronic migraines. 

Tips for Managing Migraine

You can follow these tips to manage migraine and reduce the severity and number of migraine attacks:

  • Regular sleep of a minimum of 8 hours
  • Have your meals on time
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid excess alcohol and coffee
  • Exercise regularly
  • Practise yoga and meditation
  • Massage scalp, neck, and shoulders
  • Avoid high stress
  • Stop overthinking
  • Avoid trigger foods such as chocolates and cheese

Medications Used to Treat Migraine

Several medicines can help treat migraine pain. There are a few medicines that you need to take daily whether or not a headache is present. These medicines help to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. Such medicines are called preventive medicines. There are certain medicines that are taken to treat attacks as they arise. These medicines are called abortive medicines. Here is the list of medicines that can be take for migraine attacks:

  • Non-specific medicines for Migraine: Aspirin, Acetaminophen, and Ibuprofen.
  • Specific medicines for Migraine: Triptans, antidepressants, antiepileptics, anticonvulsant, antipsychotic drugs, anti-seizure, muscle relaxer, calcium antagonist, ergot derivatives, beta-blockers, serotonin and tryptamine antagonist , monoclonal antibodies
  • Supplements: magnesium, Riboflavin, and Coenzyme Q10.

Prevention of Migraine

Migraine attacks are not curable, but you can avoid these attacks with lifestyle alterations and avoiding triggers. You can implement these preventive measures to control the severity of your migraine attacks:

  • Keep an active track of your migraine attack, including the date of the attack, time of the attack, alarming signs, symptoms, ongoing medication, and when the attack ended.
  • Avoid the odours of perfumes, colognes, and fuel stations.
  • Keep yourself hydrated.
  • Take your meals on time.
  • Improve your sleep quality.
  • Quit smoking and limit alcohol.
  • Reduce your stress levels.


Migraine is a form of chronic headache. It is marked by throbbing pain in one area of the head and generally lasts from 5 hrs to 72 hours. You may experience sensitivity to light or sound, nausea, and vomiting during migraine attacks. Some individuals experience visual and speech disturbances. The best migraine cure is to reduce the frequency of attacks. It can be done by avoiding triggers and making certain changes in routine. If you are experiencing difficulty in speaking, balancing, blurred vision, mental confusion, seizures, or numbing/tingling sensations during a migraine attack, it’s best to seek medical advice from a doctor. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

How to deal with migraine?

If you experience migraine attacks very often, identify and avoid triggers that increase the risk of attacks. Maintain a regular sleep schedule and sleep for at least 7 to 9 hours. Take your medication at the onset of a migraine attack. You may try therapies such as acupuncture and massages to reduce the frequency and severity of headaches.

Is migraine a serious problem?

Migraine attacks can cause throbbing pain, which can make it difficult for you to concentrate. It can also cause nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. It can drain your body and, in severe cases, cause temporary paralysis or vision loss. In the long term, it can also increase the risk of depression and anxiety disorders.

Can stress cause migraines?

Increased stress levels can also contribute to the recurrence of migraine attacks.

What food helps migraines?

Magnesium-rich foods, leafy greens, nuts, pumpkin, chia seeds, walnuts, and other omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods and supplements can support brain health and reduce the occurrence of migraine attacks.

Is Coffee good for a migraine?

Coffee may help reduce migraine headaches. However, having too much coffee and even withdrawing it can also trigger migraine. It’s good to have it in moderation to have undisrupted sleep and avoid migraine attacks.

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Our healthcare experts have carefully reviewed and compiled the information presented here to ensure accuracy and trustworthiness. It is important to note that this information serves as a general overview of the topic and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, or cure any health problem. This page does not establish a doctor-patient relationship, nor does it replace the advice or consultation of a registered medical practitioner. We recommend seeking guidance from your registered medical practitioner for any questions or concerns regarding your medical condition.


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