June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. For June, the goal is to raise awareness, further educate those unaware about migraines and headaches, and show support to those that deal with these issues. Due to the vast about of information and to try to maintain length, there will be other posts with even more information about migraines and headaches.
Migraines are the third most common disease globally estimating 14.77% of the world’s population suffers from migraines. Approximately 38 million United States citizens deal with this pain. Of the American’s that battle with migraines, about 85% are women. The vast majority of migraine sufferers experience an episode once or twice a month, more than 4 million others endures chronic daily migraines. It is an exceedingly debilitating condition causing not just a simple headache but can come along with nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances, utmost sensitivity to sound and, light and tingling or numbness in the face. Nearly 25% of migraine attacks may include an aura, which is a visual disturbance that lasts less than an hour.
Unfortunately, children can be affected by migraines. Of the children that experience migraines they typically have their first episode before age 12. Even though at younger ages boys suffer more from migraines than girls, once in the adolescent year’s girls end up dealing with migraines more than boys of the same age.
Migraines are a crucial public health concern, but they continue to be misunderstood, under-diagnosed, and under-treated. More than half of migraine suffers are never diagnosed properly. Many that suffer do not pursue medical attention for their pain because like individuals battling other chronic illnesses, there are extremely high costs for medical services, minuscule support, and restricted access to proper quality of care.
While we are in National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month it is important to recognize the International Classification of Headache Disorders, published by the International Headache Society, which used to classify more than 150 types of primary and secondary disorders.
I will begin with primary headache disorders which are divided into four groups:
1. Migraines- I briefly touched on this at the beginning of this post, but allow me to give a slightly deeper description. A migraine headache is distinguished by throbbing and pulsating pain caused by an activation of nerve fibers residing within the walls of the brain blood vessels that travel within the meninges. Just to quickly explain, meninges are the three membranes lining the skull and vertebral canal and encloses the brain and spinal cord.
Migraine headaches are repetitive episodes of throbbing pain ranging from moderate to severe in intensity. These typically affect one side of the head at a time. If an episode goes untreated it can potentially last anywhere from 4-72 hours.
Various factors can trigger the migraine cycle to begin and could differ from person to person, but may include sudden weather or environment changes, too much or not enough sleep, strong fragrances, emotion, stress, overexerting yourself, loud noises, motion sickness, low blood sugar, skipping meals, tobacco, depression, anxiety, head trauma, hangover, certain medications, hormonal changes, and bright or flashing lights. The cause in 50% of migraine sufferers were foods and ingredients. A few examples of the foods and ingredients that can trigger a migraine are aspartame, caffeine, or withdrawal from caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, aged cheeses, monosodium glutamate, numerous fruits and nuts, fermented or pickled goods, yeast, and cured or processed meats.
The four phases of a migraine, which all can be apparent during an episode, are:
1. Premonitory symptoms occurring up to 24 hours before developing a migraine. These symptoms can include food cravings, incomprehensible changes in moods, unmanageable yawning, fluid retention, and escalated urination.
2. Auras occur in some people causing them to immediately before and during the migraine see flashing or bright lights. Other people may experience muscle weakness or a feeling of being touched or grabbed.
3. Headaches can start and gradually build in severity, ultimately becoming a migraine. However, it is possible to suffer a migraine without a headache.
4. Postdrome can occur after a migraine, which is when someone feels exhausted or confused. This phase can potentially last up to 24 hours before the individual feels healthy again.
Besides the two main types of migraines, I will provide details on; there are eight others forms people may experience. I will share only the names of the additional types in this post but will do another post with the details in the next few days. The eight other types of migraines include Abdominal migraine, Basilar-type migraine, Hemiplegic migraine, menstrual-related migraine, Migraine without headache, Ophthalmologic migraine, Retinal migraine, and Status Migrainosus migraine. The following are the details regarding the two main migraine types.
1. Migraine with aura, also known as a classic migraine. Symptoms can show about 10-60 minutes before the headache begins and last no more than an hour. The symptoms may include visual disturbances, difficulty speaking, numbness, or muscle weakness on one side of the body, a sensation of tingling in the bands or face, nausea, loss of appetite, heightened sensitivity to light, sound, and smell.
2. Migraine without aura also knows as a common migraine. The symptoms with this type include headache pain that happens without warning and typically felt on one side of the head, nausea, confusion, fatigue, blurred vision, altered moods, and an intense sensitivity to light, sound, or noise.
The most common type of headache is a tension headache, which was previously known as a muscle-contraction headache. This type of headache suggests the role of stress and mental or emotional pain triggers pain and contracting muscles in the neck, face, scalp, and jaw, missed meals, depression, anxiety, not enough sleep, or sleep apnea.
The pain that accompanies tension headache can range anywhere from mild to moderate and anything in between. Typically this feels like constant pressure is being forced onto the front of the face or to the head or neck. It can also feel like something is being tightened around the head and is felt on both sides of the head. Those that suffer from tension headaches may become very sensitive to light and sound, but do not go through the pre-headache aura that comes along with migraines. Tension headaches will begin to fade once the period of stress or other related causes ends.
Tension headache tends to begin during adolescence and reach the utmost activity in the 30’s. These headaches do affect women somewhat more than men.
Tension headache has two different forms:
1.Episodic tension headaches happen between 10 and 15 days each month and can last anywhere between 30 minutes to several days. Even though the pain is not disabling, the intensity of pain tends to increase with the regularity of the episodes.
2.Chronic tension headaches often happens more than 15 days monthly over 3 months. The pain involved with this form of headache is consistent over days or even months, it is felt on both sides of the head and can become extreme and disabling.
Both depression and anxiety can be the source of tension headaches. These can occur in the early morning or evenings when conflicts at home or work are expected. The various other causes include posture that strains the head or neck muscles, degenerative arthritis in the neck, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
Cluster headaches are the most extreme form of primary headaches. This form of headache involves unforeseen, exceedingly painful headaches occurring in clusters. They typically occur at the same time of day and night for several weeks at a time. Cluster headaches affect one side of the head, frequently behind or around one eye, and may lead up to migraine-like aura and nausea. The pain involved peaks 5-10 minutes following the onset and persists at the same intensity up to 3 hours. Some will endure restlessness and agitation, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, and increased sensitivity to light, sound, or smell.
Cluster headaches can start at any age but typically begin between 20 and 50 years old. This form of headache commonly affects that smoke more than those that do not smoke and is seen more frequently in men than women. Cluster headache episodes do not last as long as migraines. Ordinarily, people will have 1-3 cluster headaches a day, with 2 cluster periods yearly, possibly separated by months free from any symptoms. Cluster periods are commonly inaccurately thought to be allergies because they do occur seasonally, normally in the spring or fall. It has been suggested that inconsistencies in the body’s sleep-wake cycle could be a cause of cluster headaches.
Thank you for visiting my site today. I am sorry this post was so incredibly long, but there is a lot of important information that needs to be shared. In my next few posts I will explain the miscellaneous primary headache forms, secondary headache disorders, treatments and diagnostics. I do hope the information in this post was helpful and offered some sort of comfort. Personally, I deal with migraines and tension headaches far too much and understand many others do as well. I want to encourage your comments because I know they will be amazing and even help others, including myself! Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, and many positive vibes!