Migraines: More Than a Headache

Anyone who has suffered from migraines knows that the excruciating pain they bring cannot be adequately put into words. By the rest of the population, migraines are greatly misunderstood. People who have never had a migraine think of them as extended headaches. In reality, that is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Migraines are a debilitating neurological condition, and the symptoms go way beyond pain in the head. Migraines are typically accompanied by nausea and oftentimes even vomiting. Secondary symptoms can set in days before the migraine even begins, bringing depression, irritability, and low energy. After the initial prodrome phase, many migraine sufferers also experience aura, which can lead to temporary vision loss, hallucinations or flashes of light, and partial facial paralysis. All of this is in addition to the actual attack part of a migraine, with its pulsing, pounding cranial pain that can last for hours or even days. 

Although migraines are not uncommon, no one knows exactly their cause. The reason some people experience migraines while others do not likely has something to do with genetic factors. Migraines have also been linked to drastic changes in brain chemistry, such as a decrease in serotonin or fluctuations in hormone levels during pregnancy. Furthermore, you can start experiencing migraines at any stage of your life. 

Sadly, there is not a simple solution to dealing with migraines. However, studies have shown that certain self-care practices can mitigate the onset of migraines and even relieve the symptoms when they arrive. For example, taking up yoga lessens anxiety and releases tension in massage-trigger areas, reducing the frequency, duration, and intensity of migraines. Adding a weekly massage to your routine can also reduce migraine frequency, decreasing perceived stress, anxiety, and cortisol levels. When you start to experience migraine symptoms, gently massaging your scalp and temples can gradually dispel pain in those areas. Although there is no cure per se, you can take steps to improve your overall wellness so that migraines do not dominate your life.