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Migraine is the most common form of headache, but not all headaches are migraines. The term "migraine" refers to a headache which is usually (but not always) on one side of the head. It is a headache that lasts from two to seventy-two hours, typically, and it is often associated with nausea and/or vomiting, sensitivity to light and/or sound. The character of the pain is typically a throbbing pain.
There are several categories of migraines: migraines that are preceded by a warning symptom, called an aura, are known as classic migraine or migraine with aura. Migraines that begin with pain and no warning are known as common migraine or migraine without aura. Other less common forms include complicated migraine, hemiplegic migraine, basilar migraine, ocular migraine, opthalmic migraine, and acephalgic migraine. Migraine can also be part of a mixed headache pattern in which the patient has more than one type of headache (e.g. migraine + tension-type). It is important to know what type of headache you have because management varies greatly for different headache types.
Migraines are not your fault
Migraine is a genetic and chronic disease like asthma or diabetes, not a psychological or social condition. There is currently no cure for migraines, however, as with other chronic diseases we are becoming increasingly skilled in managing the condition. This means taking measures to identify the triggers that bring on headaches, modify lifestyle to avoid them, and use medications and other therapeutic modalities to treat headaches when they occur.
It is the rare patient who discovers the cause for their headaches. For the overwhelming majority of migraine sufferers, it is a combination of little things like adjusting sleep, eating and exercise or avoiding certain partial triggers that seem to contribute. Migraine changes as we move through life stages and what works at one point may become less effective at another point. Similarly, what did not work in one set of circumstances may become effective when those circumstances change.
The bottom line is that migraine can be managed, but it requires vigilance, openness, attention to detail, awareness of your environment and the help of a knowledgeable, involved, and compassionate team of healthcare providers to gain and maintain control and to evolve the treatment plan as your life evolves. Every migraineur is different and no website will replace a careful history and examination with a qualified headache specialist.