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
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.