There are four primary types of headaches and migraines are one of them. Migraines come in two forms – those with and those without aura.
The other three primary types of headaches are cluster headaches, tension headaches, and, the catch-all type which is known as other primary headaches.
These include things such as cough induced or exercise induced headaches. It’s still unknown what is the trigger which causes migraines, but it is known that it’s a neurobiological disorder. Headaches have two forms – primary and secondary. A primary headache is a problem which has the cause and the symptoms.
A secondary headache is the result of something else, such as a hangover or a stroke. It is very hard for medical professionals to differentiate between migraine or headache which is caused by binge drinking. The reasons for this are very similar symptoms. Your headache must have certain criteria in order for your doctor to diagnose you with having migraines, and to treat them with medications.
Criteria for migraines are: the headache lasts from 4 to 72 hours, you must experience at least 5 attacks during one year and all must have the same presentation, it has to be associated with vomiting and/or nausea, and it comes with intolerance to sound or intolerance to light.
There are also certain criteria for the pain associated with your headache. Criteria for pain are: it’s aggravated, or causes the avoidance of physical activities, it occurs only on one side of your head, and it has a pulsating quality which is severe or moderate. Aura is a specific sensation which precedes the migraine. The aura itself has to meet some criteria if you want to say that your migraine comes with it.
Therefore, aura has to be fully reversible, you have two or more symptoms which occur in succession, or at least one aura symptom which gradually spreads over 5 minutes or longer. Each aura has to last from 5 minutes to one hour and it has to be accompanied by a migraine within an hour. Common symptoms of aura are: fatigue, nausea, stiff neck, difficulty concentrating, and repetitive yawning.
However, the most common aura is a visual one which can include blurred vision or sensitivity to light. While the exact cause of migraines is a mystery, it is known that it’s a neurobiological disorder. This means that migraine is an illness of the nervous system which is caused by biological factors, such as metabolism or genetics.
According to studies, the messenger molecules nitric oxide, calcitonin gene-related peptide, and 5-hydroxytryptamine are related with this type of headache. A drugs triptans are highly effective in treating this type of migraine. Triptans specifically targets the receptor sites for these messenger molecules and it helps them or inhibits them.
It has been discovered that headache symptoms can be greatly reduced if you inhibit the molecule calcitonin gene-related peptide, or help the messenger molecule for 5-hydroxytryptamine. Since nobody knows what is the exact cause of migraines, outside of generic external triggers such as certain foods, specific smells, to bright lights, the treatment for them revolves around two things: pain management during an episode or prevention.
Medications used to treat the symptoms during an attack may include the aforementioned Triptans, such as Imitrex. Also, your doctor can prescribe drugs which affect Seratonin levels. Pain medications, such as Codeine, and anti-nausea drugs, such as Benadryl, are also very common.
Drugs from many different classes can be used for prevention, such as ones that treat seizures, like Depakote, to ones that treat high blood pressure, like Beta blockers. In the end, there is a rapid advancing of our understanding of migraines and hopefully, if the research continuous in the right direction, we will soon have the cure for migraines.