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Types Of Migraine Headaches: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

  • timeline Anoush Gomes
  • 3 Min Read
  • Fact Checked

Headaches are experienced quite commonly among most of us – while some are caused by lifestyle factors such as dehydration, stress or lack of sleep, others can be caused by medical conditions as well. One type of headaches are migraine headaches, notoriously known to be very severe and sometimes debilitating for those that experience it. It can vary in intensity as well, but can have symptoms that can make it hard to go about everyday life. There are various triggers to migraine headaches, and therefore different causes. This article will dive into the types of migraines, their symptoms, and treatment. 

Migraine headaches symptoms

The common symptoms of migraines include:
– Throbbing in a specific area of the head-mostly one sided
– Light sensitivity or seeing light flashes or black spots
– Sound sensitivity
– Vision impairment- blurred vision
– Nausea, and vomiting
– Dizziness and fatigue
– Mood changes
– Nasal congestion

The pain – which can vary in intensity over the duration of the migraine – is usually deferred to the eyes, face and even neck, in addition to the area of the skull. Migraine headaches – regardless of the type – can occur acutely due to an immediate trigger or can be chronic with some individuals experiencing it much more frequently and longer than others. 

Types of migraine headaches

There are a few types of migraine headaches, and while most have the common symptoms present, there are distinguishable by some specific symptoms.

(1) Migraines without an aura
This is the most common type of migraine. The symptoms include what people usually call a “split headache” which is a throbbing pain caused on one side of the scalp. The pain can vary in intensity, but does worsen during physical activity. The other symptoms mentioned above are also experienced. The only exception is that there is no presence of an aura.

(2) Migraines with an aura
Migraines with an aura usually cause severe discomfort. This is also called a “classic migraine.” An aura is a warning that a migraine is coming, and can happen up to half an hour before the migraine begins. An aura can be visual, which are most common but can be sensory or verbal, that the individual will experience before the onset of the attack.
– Visual aura includes flashes of lights or lines or black dots or some geometric lines
– Sensory aura includes  tingling sensation in one side of the face or limb and verbal aura includes temporary speech problems.
Besides the common symptoms, a migraine with aura can also cause limb discomfort such as aches or tingling and vomiting

(3) Severe/”complicated” migraine
This type of migraine is severe and is characterized by additional symptoms such as intense pain, severe vomiting, trouble speaking, or moving and numbness and tingling in limbs.

(4) Migraines during menstruation: While not a common type of migraines, some individuals can experience migraines while they are on their period, before or after as well.

After a migraine attack which may last for a few minutes to hours, one can experience exhaustion, confusion and drained feeling for a certain amount of time.

Migraine causes

There are various triggers to migraines, some of which include
– Hormonal changes
– Diet
– Excessive alcohol or caffeine
– Stress
– Lack of sleep
– Medical conditions
– Food substances like MSG

Best treatments for migraines

Migraine headaches are usually chronic, but can be acute as well. There is no available cure for types of migraine headaches, but they can be managed through self care and medical intervention. 

Self care includes understanding the cause behind the migraines. These can include lifestyle changes in managing stress, controlling trigger foods, focused sleeping habits etc. Make sure to consult with a nutritionist before making any changes to your diet. 

Some of the medical interventions include:
Medications to abort the attack and to prevent migraine attacks are used such as painkillers like Paracetamol, ibuprofen, Triptans which will block the pain reception and medication to prevent nausea. These help with mild migraine pain and are not to be used in patients with certain medical conditions.

While all types of migraines are usually diagnosed by a physician, and at times self-diagnosable, it’s important to understand that headaches can be caused by other abnormalities. If you’ve been suffering from severe and constant headaches, don’t self diagnose, and consult with a general physician instead. Receiving a proper diagnosis is important because it rules out any other causes and therefore a treatment plan can be set in place. 

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    Anoush Gomes

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