Migraine

A migraine is a sudden, recurring headache, frequently on one side of the head.

Overview

A migraine is a sudden, recurring headache, frequently on one side of the head. It is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. The exact causes are unclear, but migraines often run in families. Typical triggers include, for example, stress situations, specific foods or a lack of sleep.

Symptoms

Migraines can be preceded by sensory disturbances (aura) that can last approximately 30 minutes:

  • Shimmering spots, flashes of light, blurred vision, distorted images, shrinking of visual field
  • Slurred or garbled speech
  • Rarely, auditory hallucinations (ringing, whistling)
  • Fleeting paralysis, tingling skin

Main symptoms of migraine

  • Headache on one side of the head, often with a throbbing or pounding sensation
  • Attacks usually last from 4 to 72 hours and occur several times a year or several times a month
  • Physical activity intensifies the pain and often makes it unbearable

Other symptoms

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Oversensitivity to light, noises and smells

Causes and treatment

Causes

The exact causes are unclear, but migraines often run in families. Frequent migraine triggers include:

  • Stress situations, sorrow or joy
  • Weather effects
  • Certain foods such as coffee, sweets, some kinds of cheese, salami, or flavour enhancers such as glutamate
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Bright or flickering light
  • Loud noise
  • Lack of sleep
  • Hormonal changes

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
Possible therapies
  • Painkillers
  • Alternative therapies (hypnosis, acupuncture, etc.)

What can I do myself?

  • When suffering a migraine attack, lie down in a quiet and dark room
  • The severity of an attack can often be lessened by taking a painkiller as early as possible
    • But be careful: the regular use of painkillers can also cause headache
  • Follow a balanced lifestyle with enough sleep and regular exercise

When to see a doctor?

  • First occurrence of a migraine-like headache
  • Increasing and long-lasting headaches
  • Sudden onset, like an “explosion”
  • Accompanied by fever, chills, disorientation and a stiff neck
  • New headaches that occur or become worse after a head injury
  • Headache is accompanied by seizures, paralysis, dizziness, auditory and visual disturbances

Synonyms

Migraine, headache

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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