Among vascular headaches, the most common form is our old friend, the migraine.
Migraines Bring da Pain
Not a Greek Myth
Migraines are so old and familiar that even the Ancient Greeks had a name for them: “hemikranion,” meaning pain affecting one side of the head.
Migraine headaches are usually characterized by severe pain on one (but sometimes both) sides of the head which can be accompanied by loss of appetite, numbness, tingling, weakness, an upset stomach, vomiting, and at times disturbed vision such as sensitivity to light. A migraine can last from anywhere from 6 to 46 hours.
And here’s the real kicker: Migraines are often so stressful that they can bring on a tension headache. This syndrome is called a "mixed tension migraine".
Some People are Prone to Migraines
Migraine headaches appear to run in families and tend to occur more frequently in women than men: such headaches are often brought on by menstruation. Most migraine sufferers experience the headaches periodically throughout their lives, with onset typically beginning in adolescence. Anything that can cause the blood vessels to dilate—stress, tension, illness, allergies—has the potential to bring on a migraine in those who are prone to them.
Right Before a Migraine: An Aura of Annoyance
In a classical migraine, the headache is accompanied by a group of symptoms—called an “aura” which precede the headache. Most auras are visual, but some migraine sufferers experience their aura as tingling sensations or even disturbances in sense of smell and taste. In severe cases, some find they have trouble speaking or thinking clearly. Others experience what is called a prodrome, a vague but intense feeling that something is wrong.
Talk to Your Doctor
Migraines can seriously damage your quality of life. If you suspect you are experiencing migraines, talk to your doctor. There are many treatments for migraines that your doctor may recommend.