What is a migraine?
A migraine headache, or attack, is an excruciating pain felt on one side of the head. This pain lasts for an extended period, and it does not disappear in a swift go. Migraine is sometimes confused with a traditional headache, but it comes with more intense pain.
Patients suffering from migraines get attacks that last for hours to days. During these attacks, they go through headaches along with nausea, vomiting, light and sound sensitivity, etc. A migraine episode has four stages, all with their own distinct symptoms.
A simple way to identify a migraine is by looking at these various symptoms. These signs can be seen from early adulthood, adolescence, or childhood. After the diagnosis, the patient is treated with medications used for prevention and pain-relieving. The treatment’s goal is to halt the signs and to rule out prospective attacks.
How is migraine diagnosed?
To diagnose a migraine, family history, symptoms, examination, both physical and neurological, are studied. To rule out other causes, one is also needed to go through MRI and CT scans. Some tests based on specific symptoms are also performed. Migraine is easy to spot using its symptoms, which makes the diagnosis a straightforward procedure.
Treatment for migraine
There is no cure for migraines yet. So, migraine treatment includes pain relief from the attacks and prevention of the same. The procedure is done with the help of medications, and these have two departments:
- Pain-relieving medication: Drugs to be consumed during migraine attacks, targetting the symptoms. These are also called abortive treatment.
- Preventive medications: These are to be taken on a routine basis, and are used to reduce the regularity of the attack and their recurrences.
Symptoms majorly decide the treatment process and the severity of the headaches. Different medications for nausea, vomiting, dizziness, etc. are also a part of the treatment.
Pain relief medication
As mentioned, this type of treatment treats the pain during the attack. This is done by using various drugs. The best time of consumption is as soon as the symptoms start to show. Some common remedies include:
- Pain relievers: These are strong prescription drugs, which, when overused for long, can cause headaches, ulcers, and even gastrointestinal bleeding. Some pain relievers include aspirin or ibuprofen.
- Triptans: Drugs that are used to block the brain’s pain pathway. However, these are not safe for heart patients and those who are stroke-prone. Some triptans such as sumatriptan and rizatriptan, are taken as pills, shots, or even nasal spray.
- Dihydroergotamine: A nasal spray or a nasal injection is used for symptoms lasting more than 24 hours. The side effects include nausea and vomiting, becoming worse. They are avoided by people with coronary artery diseases, high blood pressure, kidney or liver diseases.
- Lasmiditan: Migraine with or without aura stage is treated with this oral tablet. This drug advances pain, nausea, light, and sound sensitivity. The tablet can cause dizziness once consumed, so driving and heavy machine operating is to be avoided for eight hours when under this course.
- Opioid medication: These are for people who can’t take an addictive drug that contains Codeine. They are only used for treatment if no other medications show effectiveness.
- Anti-nausea drugs: Migraine stage aura, along with nausea and vomiting, is treated with drugs like chlorpromazine, metoclopramide, or prochlorperazine.
The second category is where the approach is to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. This is used when the attacks are becoming too frequent, the headaches are long-lasting, and the feedback is not suitable for other treatments. Like the previous type, even this treatment depends upon the symptoms. They include:
- Blood pressure-lowering medication: These are used for preventing the migraine with aura stage. The drugs constitute of beta-blockers like propranolol and metoprolol tartrate, and also calcium channel blockers like Verapamil.
- Antidepressants: Tricyclic antidepressant is used to prevent migraine attacks. However, side effects like sleeplessness, weight gain are the reason for prescribing other antidepressants.
- Anti-seizure drugs: Drugs like Valproate and topiramate are used to reduce migraine frequency. However, it causes dizziness, weight changes, nausea, etc.
- Botox injection: Getting an Onabotulinumtoxina injection, every twelve weeks, prevents the attacks in some adults.
- Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP): These injections are relatively known to be given monthly. Namely, Erenumab-aooe, fremanezumab-vfrm, and galcanezumab-gnlm. The side effect of these include reactions caused by the area where the injection was applied.
There is no cure for such headaches, and the treatment is not used for the healing either. The procedures are medication based and are divided into two groups. These aim to stop the symptoms and also to stop upcoming attacks.