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The Migraine Resource

You can't move your head without getting nauseous or vomiting. Any light seems a hundred times brighter than it should be. Maybe one side of your face gets numb, feels weak, or you begin to see things like zigzags or spots of light. Or you just get a sense that something bad is getting ready to hit you like a ton of bricks. It's likely a migraine and women get them three times as often as men.

Triggers

The pain can be excruciating, pounding and throbbing, lasting for hours or days. Once you have migraines, you may always have a predisposition to its triggers, although they often subside as you age. Everyone has different mechanisms that trigger migraines. Keep a food diary of those foods and/or activities that seem to spark a "sick headache." Common food triggers include fermented, yeast, aged, and processed foods, especially those with the oft-hidden culprit, monosodium glutamate (MSG). Lack of sleep, changes in hormones (especially for women), stress, cigarette smoke, certain smells, computer screens, and environmental changes can bring on migraines.

Management

Chronic migraines need sound pain management or palliative care. Triptans, such as almotriptan, frovatriptan, and sumatriptan are medicines doctors often prescribe to keep headaches from becoming severe and debilitating. Ergots, such as ergotamine and dihydroergotamine are another option. Both options can be given in shot form but ideally should be taken when you first recognize your warning symptoms. Not every migraine begins with an aura to let you know it is coming on. Many people prefer holistic care and turn to chiropractic care, biofeedback, behavior modification, and relaxation techniques to combat the pain.

Other Headache Resources

Children are also susceptible to migraines, especially abdominal migraines, which affect around two percent of all children. Belly pain near the navel or midline occurs most often because the child has reacted to a migraine trigger. Symptoms include severe stomach pain much like the pain of a head migraine except in the gut, cramping, nausea, and vomiting. The child's pallor may be off and he may be unable to eat. Nitrite-containing foods such as chocolate, Chinese, bologna and other processed meats may be a key trigger as well as excessive air swallowing. The pain can from a few hours up to three days or so. Family history of migraines may make the children predisposed to abdominal migraines and they should see their pediatrician.

If you are prone to migraines, see your physician as soon as possible to rule out any other cause of your pain. Any sudden, severe headache needs evaluated, those are not migraines, but may be symptomatic of a stroke or an aneurysm. You may need a brain scan or other imaging to rule these out.