What is a migraine?

A migraine is a type of headache or neurological condition that leads to a severe throbbing sensation, mostly on one side of the head. Sometimes it can occur on both sides.

Migraine headaches, which feel like someone is pounding away inside your head, are called ‘attacks’ due to their severity. The headache can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, and exposure to light and sound or physical activity can worsen a migraine.

Many migraine sufferers experience a warning sign, called an aura, before the onset of the headache in the form of visual disturbances, like light flashes, blind spots, seeing shapes, tingling or numbness in the face, arm or leg, and difficulty with speech.

Migraines can occur several times a month or occasionally, affecting children or adults, and each episode can last for a few hours or more than a day.

What are the symptoms of a migraine?

The predominant symptom of a migraine is a severe, throbbing headache, typically on one side of the head.

The migraine headache can be accompanied with:

  1. Seeing flashes of light or shapes.
  2. Blind spots.
  3. Feeling sick.
  4. Nausea or vomiting.
  5. Lack of focus.
  6. Diarrhea.
  7. Fever.
  8. Abdominal pain.
  9. Loss of appetite.
  10. Sweating.

What causes a migraine?

Although the exact cause of a migraine is not established, it is believed to occur due to temporary chemical changes in the brain’s nerves and blood vessels.

Migraine attacks are also associated with triggers which include:

  1. Menstruation.
  2. High-stress levels.
  3. Fatigue
  4. Missing a meal.
  5. Consumption of certain foods or drinks.
  6. Caffeine.
  7. Family history: A migraine increases your likelihood of being affected if you have a family member with a migraine.
  8. Smoking.
  9. Exposure to harsh light, loud sounds, or strong smells.
  10. Lack of hydration.

The various stages of a migraine

Migraines may advance through four stages: Prodrome, Aura, Attack or headache, and Post-drome. However, not everyone will experience the various stages.

  1. Prodrome: This phase begins a day or two before the migraine and is accompanied by subtle changes in daily habits such as mood change, food cravings, fluid retention, muscle stiffness, especially in the neck, sensitivity to light and sound, yawning,
  2. Aura: This is also a pre-headache stage and can bring on numbness and tingling, visual disturbances that include blurriness, blind spots, speech problems and changes in smell or taste. Aura stage can sometimes co-occur with Prodrome.
  3. Attack or headache: The core of the migraine experience is the intense pain sensation with full-blown symptoms. It is debilitating and can last a few hours or days.
  4. Post-drome: This phase is also called the migraine hangover phase, which induces fatigue, a sense of being disoriented or drained or a sense of elation.

What are the treatments for migraine?

There are several treatment options for migraines that, include the following:

  1. Pain reliever medications can be over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription pain relievers.
  2. Anti-nausea medications.
  3. Triptans are a category of drugs that balance brain chemicals.
  4. Preventive medications.

Additionally, the following may also be recommended:

  1. Dietary modification and vitamin supplements.
  2. Lifestyle changes.

In migraine episodes that require further investigation, our specialists may undertake additional tests such as MRI or CT scan to detect underlying causes, if any.

When should I see a migraine headache specialist?

If you are getting severe headaches with the symptoms described above, if your headaches persist for more than a few hours and leave you drained and disoriented, affecting your quality of life, if you are experiencing sudden changes in the intensity and duration of headaches, make an appointment with a neurologist.

American Hospital Dubai has the best migraine doctors and migraine treatments

American Hospital Dubai’s Neurology Department has the most advanced treatments for headaches and migraine.

Our highly experienced migraine doctors diagnose and treat all types of headaches using the latest and most advanced methods. Our treatments offer speedy and effective relief for migraine through correct medication and lifestyle change recommendations based on symptoms and your medical and family health history.

Our multi-disciplinary and integrative treatment approach includes physical therapy, nutrition advice and counselling to ensure you get the most accurate, efficient, and personalized migraine diagnosis, treatment, and care under one roof.