A migraine is a severe headache that can cause intense throbbing or a pulsing sensation in your head. Environmental and genetic factors may play a role in causing migraines. Migraine headaches often begin in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood and may consist of four stages, prodrome, aura, headache, and postdrome.
Prodrome may occur one or two days before a migraine and are subtle changes in food craving, activity, irritability, neck stiffness, depression, constipation, and uncontrollable yawning. Aura may occur before or during migraine headaches. Symptoms of aura may include vision loss, bright spots, and speech problems (apshasia). During the migraine attack symptoms may include throbbing pain in sides of your head, sensitivity to light, sound, and sometimes smells, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and lightheadedness. Postdrome is the last phase that occurs after a migraine attack where you may feel drained and washed out.
Migraine headache triggers may include, food, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks, stress, sensory stimuli, changes in wake-sleep pattern, physical factors, changes in the environment, hormonal changes in women, and medications. Risk factors may include family history, age, sex, and hormonal changes. Your doctor may diagnose your condition based on your medical history, symptoms and a physical and neurological examination. To rule out other possible causes for your pain your doctor may perform blood tests, computerized tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and or a spinal tap (lumbar puncture). If you or someone you know suffers from migraines talk to your doctor to learn how to manage your condition.