Migraine is an intense headache, commonly lasting anything from two hours to two days, accompanied by visual disturbances and/or nausea and vomiting.
During a migraine attack, the blood vessels in the brain dilate, drawing the blood vessels together, and causing stimulation of nerve endings near the affected blood vessels. It is thought that these changes to the blood vessels are probably the cause the severe pain, but migraine is still a condition that is poorly understood.
Who Is Affected by Migraine?
Although there is often a predisposition for migraine to occur within the family of other migraine sufferers, it is not certain how large a heredity role there is. Migraine affects about 20 per cent of females and 6 per cent of males in their lifetime. It may affect children as young as three years old with 60% of sufferers experiencing their first episode before the age of twenty, and about 90 per cent having their first attack before the age of 40.
What Are the Symptoms of Migraine?
Migraine headaches generally occur in bouts of between aproximatelyy 2 to 72 hours. The headaches usually affect one side of the head at a time, although both sides may be affected in separate attacks. The headaches are usually throbbing and worsened by normal physical activity.
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Visual impairment (called “aura” that most often are visual, such as zigzag lines, twinkling, or flashing lights across or on the periphery of vision) that precede the headache. The “aura” may also be non- visual, such as a sensation of tingling in the body.
- Sensitivity to light and/or sound.
Only about 15 per cent of sufferers experience visual aura preceding an attack. The term “Common migraine” is used to refer to the majority of sufferers who experience all the other symptoms with the exception of the “aura”. In some rare cases, there can be transient loss of power of a limb with severe attacks and/or temporary difficulty with speech.