Migraine Headache

woman-holds-head-looking-downA migraine headache is a severe and often debilitating type of headache that can cause symptoms such as sensory disturbances, cognitive problems, and nausea.

What are the Symptoms of a Migraine?

A migraine is not just a severe headache. Migraines have certain characteristic symptoms that include:

  • Severe pain in the head or eyes
  • Nausea, vomiting, or dizziness
  • Blurred or tunnel vision
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Seeing auras
  • Being worse on one side of the head
  • Beginning as a dull ache that proceeds to a severe pounding sensation within a few hours

What Causes Migraine Headaches?

Women are significantly more likely to get migraines than men, but the physiological causes behind migraines are not well understood. Most neurologists believe that migraines are caused by unusual brain activity that causes pain and other neurological symptoms. There is not yet a specific test for migraine headaches, and doctors diagnose migraines based upon symptoms and the ruling out of other causes.

Some environmental factors can trigger migraines in people who frequently experience migraine headaches. These factors include stress, caffeine, foods such as onions, pickled foods, hunger, heavy exercise, depression, and changes in sleeping patterns.

How Are Migraines Treated?

Migraine headaches are not a disease and there is no current cure that can prevent future migraines. Prescription-strength migraine medications from a doctor can help alleviate the pain of a migraine attack, and some people with migraines find that antidepressants, anti-seizure medication, and blood pressure reduction medications reduce the frequency and severity of their migraine headaches. Some people use holistic and complementary treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic care to reduce or treat migraine symptoms. Others are able to reduce the frequency or severity of migraines by lifestyle changes, such as adjusting their diets or reducing their stress levels. People may have to try several different treatments before they find one that works.


  1. A.D.A.M. Editor Board. (0000, November 18). Migraines. PubMed Health. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001728/
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2011, June 04). Migraine. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/migraine-headache/DS00120

Last Updated: 01-24-2018

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