A migraine is a common type of headache that may occur with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. Many people feel a throbbing pain on one side of their head.
Some people who get migraines have warning symptoms, called an aura, before the actual headache begins. An aura is a group of symptoms, including visual changes, that are a warning sign that a bad headache is coming.
Migraine headaches can be triggered by certain foods. The most common are:
Alcohol, stress, certain odors or perfumes, loud noises or bright lights, and smoking may also trigger a migraine.
Try to treat your symptoms right away. The headache may be less severe. When migraine symptoms begin:
Over-the-counter pain medications -- such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin -- are often helpful when your migraine is mild.
Your health care provider may have prescribed medicines that are used to stop a migraine. These drugs come in different forms. They may come as a nasal spray, rectal suppository, or injection instead of pills. Other medications can treat your pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Follow your health care provider’s directions about how to take all of your medicines. Patients who take pain medication more than 3 days a week on a regular basis can develop rebound headaches -- headaches that keep coming back.
A headache diary can help you identify your headache triggers. When you get a headache, write down the day and time the pain began, what you ate and drank over the past 24 hours, how much you slept, and when and what was going on in your life right before the pain started. Also include information about how long the headache lasted, and what made it stop.
Some lifestyle changes that may help include:
If you have frequent migraines, your doctor may prescribe medicine to reduce the number of your attacks. You need to take this medicine every day for it to be effective. Your doctor may have you try more than one drug before deciding which works best for you.
Call 911 if:
Schedule an appointment or call your doctor if:
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Updated by: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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