Women face migraine

Migraine is a serious medical condition characterized by severe headache. The headache is intense, severe and throbbing kind. It affects one or both sides of the head. Migraine may also lead to nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to sound and light. Some sufferers may experience loss of vision while some complain of seeing flashing lights and spots.

The pain can occur at any time, typically in the morning and last for a few hours of for a day or two. It does not pose a threat to the overall health, but can interfere the routine.

Women are more susceptible to migraine than men. If numbers are to be believed that 3 out of 4 people who suffer from migraine are women. Women face migraine between 20 to 45 years of age. Women faces more severe headaches and for a longer duration of time as compared to males.

Causes Of Migraine
The exact cause of migraine is unknown, but it said to be connected to the chemical substances produced in brain. High levels of these chemicals cause inflammation, which inturn cause swelling of blood vessels that press the nearby nerves and this ultimately leads to pain.
Genes are also to be blamed as abnormal genes cause migraine.

Triggering Factors
• Skipped meals
• Lack of sleep
• Too much sleep
• Bright lights
• Strong odors
• Loud noises
• Hormone changes during periods
• Stress and anxiety
• Relaxation after stress
• Alcohol, especially red wine
• Weather changes
• Caffeine consumption, either too much or withdrawal
• Tyramine containing food like aged cheeses, fava beans, soy products, hard sausages, Chianti wine and smoked fish.
• MSG (monosodium glutamate) containing food items like fast foods, broths, spices and seasonings
• Nitrate containing foods like hot dogs, lunch meats, etc.
• Aspartame

Migraine And Menstrual Cycle
Women get migraine attacks typically before the onset of their menstrual cycle. This is referred to as “Menstrual Migraine”. The connection between migraine and menstruation is still not clear. Studies say that it occurs due to the fact that the female hormones that control the chemicals that control pain sensations drop down and hence, cause migraine.

Migraine And Menopause
The women who suffer from migraine during their periods can take a sigh of relief as menopause make them less severe. Nausea and vomiting also decrease. About two- third of women feel improve in their symptoms with menopause.

But, there is another side of picture too. Some women say that their symptoms exacerbate during menopause.

Migraine And Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills may improve migraine in some women. These pills cut down the number of attacks and also the severity. While, some say there is no change in their migraine due to birth control pills.

Management Of Migraine
The treatment can be abortive (to stop the migraine in progress), acute and preventive.

Acute treatment
• NSAIDS like ibuprofen are given for mild migraine.
• Aspirin and Acetaminophen
• Triptans like zolmitriptan (Zomig®), almotriptan (Axert®), naratriptan (Amerge®), rizatriptan (Maxalt®), frovatriptan (Frova®), eletriptan (Relpax®) and sumatriptan (Imitrex®).
• Ergot derivatives (ergotamine tartrate and dihydroergotamine)

Prevention
• Beta-blockers like propranolol (Inderal®), timolol (Blocadren®)
• Antidepressants like amitriptyline (Elavil®), venlafaxine (Effexor®)
• Calcium channel blockers like verapamil
• Anticonvulsants like divalproex sodium (Depakote®), topiramate (Topamax®)

Lifestyle changes
• Avoid the triggers
• Wake up and go to sleep at the same time daily
• Engage in physical activity
• Do not skip meals
• Eat a healthy diet
• Cut down alcohol
• Cut down caffeine

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