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What Is The Difference Between A Headache And A Migraine

by Kristin Beck
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What Is The Difference Between A Headache And A Migraine

“A migraine can be described as an excruciatingly painful type of headache which may or may not include nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, blurred vision, and other symptoms such as difficulty concentrating or speaking. It tends to occur in clusters over time with some people having attacks every day for weeks at a stretch. In most cases, migraines are associated with brain inflammation but there are also instances where they cannot be explained by this theory.
Migraines are more common among women than men and tend to begin during adulthood. They are considered hereditary conditions because your chances of developing them increase if one of your parents has had them. If you suffer from migraines, you should know that these types of headaches often recur after treatment, although they do respond well to medication.
The exact cause of migraines is unknown but they appear to be triggered by changes in blood flow to the brain. There is evidence suggesting that migraines could be caused by low levels of serotonin, a hormone-like chemical produced naturally by nerve cells in the body. Some scientists believe that migraines are related to abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
There are several different types of migraines including classic migraines, transformation migraines, aura migraines, and new daily persistent migraines. Classic migraines include severe pain on one side of the head that may spread to the opposite side and last between two and 72 hours. Transformation migraines are those which transform into classic migraines. These are usually milder than classic migraines with less severe pain and duration. Aura migraines are characterized by the presence of visual disturbances like flashing lights, zigzag lines, etc., before any actual pain sets in. New daily persistent migraines happen once per day for four days in succession or longer. This kind of migraine is generally accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme fatigue.
In many cases, migraines are brought about by stress, sleep deprivation, bright sunlight, alcohol consumption, and poor diet. Certain foods like chocolate, caffeine, nicotine, and tyramine (found in certain food products) trigger migraines in susceptible individuals. People who take drugs such as beta blockers, antidepressants, antihistamines, anticonvulsants, and barbiturates may develop migraines. Women taking oral contraceptives are also prone to migraines.
Headaches and migraines are very similar conditions. Both can be described as extremely uncomfortable pains that feel better when treated. Migraines differ from typical headaches in a number of ways. First off, migraines always involve just one half of the skull while headaches can affect each side equally. Second, migraines are associated with neurological problems whereas headaches are usually due to muscle tension. Third, migraines don’t get worse over time while headaches usually become more unbearable with time. Finally, migraines tend to be recurrent while headaches are usually temporary.
So what causes migraines? According to research conducted by neurologists at Stanford University Medical Center, migraines are actually seizures involving the nerves in the brain. During such seizures, chemicals called neurotransmitters are released causing inflammation to the membranes surrounding neurons. This leads to increased calcium ion influx which triggers release of nitric oxide. When nitric oxide binds to its receptor sites on the membrane of the neurons, this stimulates the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandin E2 then acts upon nearby sensory neurons stimulating their firing which results in the perception of pain signals.
Treatment for migraines includes treating the underlying condition, reducing stress, avoiding triggers, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, and triptans. For severe migraines, medications like ergotamine tartrate, sumatriptan succinate, propranolol HCl, and naproxen sodium may be tried. Topiramate may help prevent further episodes. Avoiding caffeine, smoking, and drinking alcohol may also reduce the risk of migraines.
If you experience frequent migraines, consult a doctor immediately. Your health depends on it!
For more information on migraines and related topics, please visit the next page.”

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