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Migraine Headaches - Article Example

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Headaches may be considered one of the most commonly prevalent disorders of the nervous system. Headaches may be classified into: (1) Primary Headaches - migraines, tension-type headaches and cluster headaches; (2) Secondary Headaches - headaches attributed to physical trauma, intracranial disorders, substance use and infections; (3) Headaches due to nerve damages…
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Migraine Headaches
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Download file to see previous pages Medically, headaches are diagnosed as vascular headaches (due to abnormal functions of the blood vessels), muscle contraction headaches (due to tension of the facial and neck muscles), traction headaches (due to strokes) and inflammatory headaches (due to sinus infection). (NINDS web site. 2008). Migraine headaches are the most common type of vascular headache, which is widespread and has its own characteristic symptoms, causes and treatment.
Migraine headaches have a genetic basis. The particular mechanism of the brain, which causes the release of pain causing inflammatory substances in the vascular system of the head, is not fully understood. Migraines are considered to be due to an inherited abnormality in the regulation of blood vessels at the base of the brain. Migraines commonly commence at puberty and reach a peak at the ages of 35 - 45 years. Migraines are episodic, with the frequency of the attacks varying from a year to a week, with one attack a month being the most common. Statistics show that the incidence of migraines is 2 - 3 times higher in women than in men, suggesting a hormonal basis. Migraines in women are often linked with menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. On a world average, about 4% of men and 12% of women suffer from migraines every year. Children have shorter duration of migraine attacks, and are more likely to have diarrhea. (WHO web site. 2004).
The common symptoms of migraines are severe pain on one or both sides of the head, nausea, diarrhea and sensitivity to light, strong odors and sound. Migraines are classified into two main types: classic and common. The classic migraine, experienced in 10% of cases, is preceded by neurological symptoms, called an aura, 10 - 30 minutes before the onset of the headache. These symptoms include visual disturbances, such as flashing lights, zigzag lines, temporary loss of vision and also speech difficulties, numbness of limbs, tingling of the face and head and confusion. The headache is an intense, throbbing pain in the forehead, temple, ear, jaw and around the eyes. The pain starts on one side, but may spread to the other side. The duration of a classic migraine is from 1 - 2 days. A common migraine comes on suddenly, although some people may experience slight mental fuzziness, change of mood, fatigue and unusual retention of fluids. The headache is accompanied by diarrhea, increased urination, nausea and vomiting. The headache can persist for 3 - 4 days. Sometimes, migraines can be predictable, as before menstruation. In addition to these two types, there are also some rarer forms of migraine, such as hemiplegic migraine (with temporary paralysis), ophthalmoplegic migraine (with problems of vision), basilar artery migraine (with vertigo and poor muscle coordination), benign exertionary migraine (due to physical exertion), status migrainosus (which requires hospitalization) and a headache-free migraine. (NINDHS web site. 2008).
Migraine headaches usually follow distinct phases. (1) The Prodormal phase consists of certain subtle warning signs, such as fatigue, and changes in mood and behavior. (2) The Aura phase precedes the headache in 10% of migraine cases. (3) The Headache phase sees pain on one or both sides of the head, accompanied by sensitivity to light, sound and smell, and nausea. (4) The Resolution phase witnesses the subsidence of the headache, usually after ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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