FAQ’s: Migraine Frequently asked questions

FAQ’s: Migraine Frequently asked questions

What is a Migraine?
Migraine is a type of headpain/headache which is usually severe, and involves the blood supply to the head. The pain is usually one sided and may swap sides during an attack; or even from one attack to the next. The exact cause(s) of migraines are not yet fully understood, but much is known about the multitude of aggravating factors and triggers.
What is an Aura?
Aura is a phenomenon usually found in conjunction with ‘Classic Migraine’, in which the onset of pain is preceded by visual, sensory, motor, or speech symptoms. These can include ‘blind spots’, flashing lights, numbness in the extremities or face, weakness or heaviness of the muscles, or limbs; and difficulties with speech and articulating the spoken word. It is believed that Aura arise due to lack of blood flow in and around the brain, due to constriction of these blood vessels.
What is Rebound Headache?
Rebound headache is a phenomenon usually associated with withdrawal from certain substances; whereby the actual withdrawal precipitates a headache or migraine. Rebound headaches can occur after withdrawal from a number of substances including caffeine, and it is best to check with your family doctor if you suspect that your headpain may be due to rebound.
What is a Trigger?
Triggers can include many different stimuli, from various classes of foods, to certain smells, even stress, heat and cold, and skipping meals. Hormonal fluctuations can also act as triggers. The main point to note is that triggers are provoking factors, and not the actual cause of the migraine attack itself.
Who are some famous sufferers?
Past and present, sufferers have included: Cleopatra, Peter the Great, Charles Darwin, Joan of Arc, and Princess Margaret.
When was the earliest diagnosis?
The first description of headache involving half the head was by Aretaeus of Cappodocia (now part of Turkey) in about 80 AD. Earlier descriptions of Migraine-like headaches go back to 1500 BC.
Do Genetics play a role?
There is about a 50 % chance of a migraine sufferer’s child or sibling suffering migraines. It is also worth mentioning that the age of onset and the triggers may vary from one family member to another.
Do Hormones play a role?
Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle do have an effect on a large proportion of women sufferers especially immediately preceding menstruation, or in the mid-cycle phase. Migraines can also occur at other times throughout the cycle, and during periods of change in the cycle, such as menopause, or during pregnancy. One theory on this issue is that a fall in oestrogen reduces the function of certain nerve transmitters in the central nervous system, increasing the liklihood of an attack. The frequency of attacks often lessens with the end of menopause, or may even disappear all together. Sometimes on-going sufferers are able to benefit from Hormone Replacement Therapy. See the section on Hormones under Other problems, on the head roll-over.
Who suffer more, Men or Women?
Women are more than twice as likely to suffer from migraine than men.
Is Migraine common in Children?
The exact figures for this have not been extensively researched, but some members of the medical community believe the incidence may be as high as one in ten. More generally, it has been shown that 21% of sufferers in Australia, are under the age of 10 when they have their first attack. Also of interest, is that in this age group- boys suffer as much as girls. With children, an attack may be severe, but will probably last a shorter time than in adults.

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