Migraines are debilitating. In addition to intense headaches, symptoms can include nausea, vomiting and a sensitivity to light, sounds or odors. They can last from two hours, or up to three days. And the pain can be on one side of the head, or both sides.
Many people who think they suffer from sinus headaches are actually experiencing migraines. According to Dr. Michael Chandler, who specializes in allergy and immunology, a way to tell the difference is, sleep will alleviate a migraine but not a sinus headache.
Although migraines do run in families and there is a relation between hormones and migraines, there is much doctors don't know about what causes and how to prevent them. It's hard to figure out causes because there are so many, and it varies from one person to the next. Triggers can include red wine, chocolate, cheese, processed food, soy, yeast, MSG, stress and not getting enough sleep.
Doctors think the cerebral cortex, an outer layer of neural tissue, is the area that is sensitive, when people suffer from migraines.
Treatment varies from avoiding the triggers to alleviating the pain.
Often common pain relievers like aspirin, acetaminophen and naproxen sodium [Aleve] do little to stop the pain.
But there are a few effective treatments to try, so you don't waste a day lying in a dark room, curled up in bed:
1. Feverfew – Some people claim 380 mg a day of the herbal supplement works to lessen the frequency of migraines and relieves them, if one starts.
2. Rizatriptan benzoate – Manufactured as Maxalt and available by prescription. It is taken at the onset of a migraine. There are a variety of prescription drugs to relieve pain, as well as, to make the brain less sensitive to the triggers. Patients work with a headache specialist to find which medication works for them. The most commonly prescribed drugs are triptans, which stop pain by narrowing blood vessels in the head.
3. Botox – Looks promising in stopping chronic migraines. There are doctors, who specialize in treating migraines with botox injections.
4. Battery powered plaster* – Available in England, delivers medicine directly into the bloodstream. The British call a band-aid, or patch "plaster.'' The treatment helps sufferers who can't keep oral medication down. The single use patch is put on the upper arm as soon as a person feels an attack coming on. In a study, 59% of sufferers were pain free within two hours of treatment.
*Source: Roger Dobson from the UK's Daily Mail.
With the care of a knowledgeable doctor, relief is frequently a treatment away.