The NeuroMedical Center | Patient Education Library | Migraine Headaches

what is a migraine?

A migraine is much more than a bad headache. Migraine is a recurrent, disabling neurological disorder, involving intense head pain and associated with other unpleasant symptoms. A migraine can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head.  that can last for hours or even days.

what Causes a migraine?

Much about migraines isn’t understood. Many researchers believe that a migraine can be caused by genetics or a change in hormone levels in the brain. There are also a number of factors that can trigger a migraine. These factors vary from person to person, and they include:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Bright or flashing lights
  • Loud noises
  • Changes in weather
  • Medicines
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Overexertion (too much exercise)
  • Tobacco use
  • Caffeine or caffeine withdrawal
  • Skipped meals

In addition, experts believe certain foods and drinks, such as aged cheese, alcohol, and food additives like nitrates (in pepperoni, hot dogs, lunchmeats) and monosodium glutamate (MSG) may be responsible for up to 30% of migraines.

What does a migraine feel like?

A migraine is usually an intense pounding headache that usually begins in the forehead, the side of the head, or around the eyes. The headache gradually gets worse. Just about any movement, activity, bright light, or loud noise seems to make it hurt more. 

Experts recognize four different phases that individuals may experience with each migraine.

  • Prodome- Food cravings, unexplained mood changes, uncontrollable yawning, fluid retention, and increased urination up to 24 hours before the migraine.
  • Aura- If you have this phase, you might see flashing or bright lights or zig-zag lines just before or during a migraine.
  • Headache- A migraine usually starts gradually and then becomes more severe. It typically causes throbbing or pulsing pain, which is often on one side of your head.
  • Postdrome- You may feel exhausted, weak, and confused for up to a day after your migraine.  

Migraine vs. headache

When there is pressure or pain in your head, it can be difficult to tell whether you are experiencing a typical headache or a migraine.

Headaches are unpleasant pains in your head that can cause pressure and aching. The pain can range from mild to severe and usually occur on both sides of your head. The most common type of headache is a tension headache which can be triggered by stress, muscle strain, and anxiety.

Migraines, on the other hand, are intense or severe headaches that often have other symptoms in addition to pain including:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Pain behind one eye or ear
  • Pain in the temples
  • Seeing spots or flashing lights
  • Sensitivity to light and or sound
  • Temporary vision loss

Migraine risk factors

It is estimated that about 12 percent of the U.S. population experiences migraines. They can affect anyone, but you are more likely to have them if you:

  • Are a woman
  • Have a family history of migraines
  • Have an underlying medical condition such as depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, or epilepsy

Expert Migraine Treatment in Baton rouge, louisiana

Expert assessment to help differentiate a migraine headache from a traditional headache and vice versa is very important.  It can mean faster relief through better treatments. It can also prevent future pain from occurring in the first place. The NeuroMedical Center in Baton Rouge offers comprehensive treatment for migraine sufferers in Louisiana.  Our neuroscience campus offers an entire neurology team with vast experience diagnosing and treatment migraine and headache disorders. Our neurologists work closely alongside pain medicine specialists, neuropsychologists, and physical therapists to help our patients best manage their migraines.   If you or a loved one is searching for the most effective migraine relief, request an appointment with a migraine expert at The NeuroMedical Center.