All You Need To Know About Migraines : Causes, Forms and Symptoms

Migraines are as deadly as they sound. The pain that comes with this condition is beyond what words can explain. This begs the question, what exactly is migraine? It is simply a severe and painful headache that is associated with sensory signs for instance blind spots, flashes of light, increased sensitivity to light not to mention tingling in the legs and hands, nausea and vomiting among others. This condition is known to cause pain and discomfort. In fact a good percentage of people have lost their lives as result of migraine.

1. What Causes Migraines?

Before talking about the causes of migraines, it is necessary to mention that migraines can affect both sexes. However, women, especially during their reproductive years, are much more affected than men. Indeed, 18% of women are affected by migraine compared with 8% of men. It should be noted that among children under 12 years of age, the proportion of girls suffering from migraine is equal to that of boys.
People under the age of 40 are particularly affected by migraine. Some scientific sources refer to a critical age for migraine 30 to 45 years of age.
In the United States, about 30 million people (about 10% of the population) are affected by migraines.

The cause of migraine is indeed a topic of discussion especially now that a such conditions have become a serious healthy issue. Unfortunately, there is no clear information on the exact cause of migraine apart from people’s assumptions pertaining the condition.  Some believe that such a condition is caused by abnormal brain activities which in turn cause alteration in the nerve cells enhancing a temporary alteration in the nerve cell, chemicals as well as blood flow in your brain. All in all, word has it that such headache is triggered by a number of factors for instance:
  • Allergies as well as allergic reactions,
  • Emotional and physical stress,
  • Excitement, tension, depression, and fatigue,
  • Sleep disorders, excess sleep or changes in sleep patterns (eg. night work),
  • Inhaling the cigarette smoke directly or indirectly,
  • Dehydration (lack of water),
  • Changes in temperature and changes in air pressure,
  • Fasting or skipping meals which in turn causes low blood sugar,
  • Alcohol intake, médications,
  • Consumption of foods such as peanut butter, banana, avocado, chocolate, nuts among others,
  • Light (according to some studies, light would aggravate migraine),
  • Hormonal variations in women, especially estrogens. This is why many women suffer from migraines during menstruation or pregnancy,
  • Some medications like hormone replacement therapy, sleeping tablets as well as contraceptives such as the pill that may in some cases trigger a migraine.
Note the triggers are not always entitled to cause migraine plus avoiding them may not always prevent a person from being affected.

2. How Long Migraines Last ?

The process of migraine can be simplified in the following way: Blood vessels located just outside the skull are surrounded by nerve fiber coils, and when the vessels develop by some reason, the nerves are taut , Which causes pain and inflammation. How long migraine lasts is a thing of concern mostly because of the discomfort caused by the condition. Such severe head pains are known to take from 4-72 hours occurring frequently in between the weeks but as time goes the migraines may only occur once per year. People who suffer from this condition are referred as migraineurs. 

3. Symptoms of Migraines

Migraine symptoms differ in different persons.  The symptoms are categorized into phases which include:
  • Prodrome: this is precisely warning symptoms of migraine headache. Several symptoms are said to precede a migraine headache for instance unpredictable mood changes, sensation, fatigue or even muscle tension.
  • Auditory and visual disturbances: A lot of people are said to experience blood spots otherwise known as scotomas. In such instances one sees geometric patterns and may even experience vision only on one side, a condition known as hemianopsia not to mention that they can still have auditory or hearing hallucinations.
  • Headache: shockingly, some migraineurs normally experience migraine pains on both sides whereas migraine pain is known to affect one side of the head. As a result throbbing pain is likely to occur causing other effects such as nausea and vomiting. At such times a person becomes very sensitive to light and touch. In most cases, this phase takes 4-72 hours. However, the headache goes away after one takes a rest even if it is not treated.
  • Postdrome: this is the period after which the migraine stops yet some individuals continue experiencing the effects of the condition. 

4. What is Chronic Migraine?

In regard to the International Headache Society, chronic migraine is the type of headache that is known to last for more than 15 days each month over a period of three months. If by any case you have such an experience, chances are that you are suffering from chronic migraine. The good news is that this migraine is quite rare and only affects one percent of the world’s population. Chronic migraine is known to cause withdrawal from work, school, house work or even social activities as a result of its nature not to mention the prolonged time it lasts. In addition, this condition is known to reduce efficiency and productivity.

5. What are Migraine Auras?

Migraine is known to be caused by changes in the nervous system. This kind of headache may progress via four phases namely prodrome, aura, and attack as well as postdrome stage. This does not mean that everyone has to undergo these phases. In fact, several people only experience the prodrome stage. However, some do proceed to the second stage which is in this case referred as migraine aura.  This begs the question, what exactly is migraine aura? Basically Auras are visual and can also be motor, verbal or sensory disturbances only that the visual auras are quite common. Visual aura resembles a chemical or electric wave that passes across the brain’s visual cortex.
Diagnosis is based on clinical examination with detailed physical and neurological examinations. It may also include some complementary examinations such as tomography, magnetic resonance and/or lumbar puncture.
During a real visual aura, the symptoms can be identified in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of a person. The red and yellow colors reveal an activation in the visual cortex. Visual cortex is simply the part of your brain which is responsible for the processing of the visual signals. During an aura, the activation spreads causing a person to lose normal visual function. Fortification spectrum is the most commonly known aura since it has patterns that resemble medieval fort walls. It tends to start as a tiny hole of light or even a bright geometrical line as well as shapes in the visual field.

6. What Are The Types Of Migraines ?

6.1) Hemiplegic migraines

People with hemiplegic migraines experience paralysis or weakness on one side of the body, speech and vision disorders, and other symptoms that often mimic a stroke, and by the way, this type of migraine has often been confused with a stroke. This is because it has a numbing and/or paralysing effect usually on one side of the body otherwise known as hemiplegia. The paralysis is accompanied by severe pain and sometimes no pain at all and is usually temporary, but it can last for several days. Hemiplegic migraines often start in one’s childhood or teenage and in some cases disappear during/through adulthood.
The main difference between hemiplegic migraines and a stroke is that the disabling comes slowly and builds while in a stroke it’s instantaneous. Usually preceded by an aura that lasts from 5 – 60 minutes, hemiplegic migraines are among the most severe types of migraines.
Two types of hemiplegic migraine exist:
–  Family hemiplegic migraine: it is a hereditary genetic migraine disorder that causes hemiplegic migraines. (Genetic examination can determine if a person has the genetic mutations that are associated with this type of migraine.)
–  Sporadic hemiplegic migraine: it is associated with hemiplegic migraines that occur in people without genetic disease and without a family history of hemiplegic migraine. They are diagnosed on a person with symptoms of a hemiplegic migraine on several occasions.

6.2) Ocular migraines (optical migraines, ophthalmic migraines)

Also known as eye/retinal migraines, they are painless and characterised by visual disturbances affecting one or both eyes; It is like a hole in the lateral visual field, at first small, surrounded by scintillating crenellations in the manner of an electric filament. This visual hole seems gradually to enlarge and is manifested to both eyes. They do not need any form of medication and over in a span of 20- 30 minutes.
Sometimes, a headache follows after the visual disturbance. In this case, the disturbance is not termed as a migraine but an aura preceding the migraine headache. The headache usually affects one side of the head and originates from behind the eye.

6.3) Vestibular migraines

This kind of migraine occurs in people who have a history of migraine symptoms. In most cases, vestibular migraines are not accompanied by headaches. It is basically a nervous system problem that causes dizziness.
Vestibular refers to the inner ear. This is the part of the body that controls hearing and balance. Given the function of the vestibular, balance problems and dizziness are the main symptoms. Sensitivity to sound and motion sensitivity are also experienced at time. These symptoms skyrocket if one has anxiety.
Adults are more prone to vestibular migraines as it might take years of migraines before the vertigo symptoms begin. In some rare cases, children have shown symptoms of vestibular migraines.

6.4) Abdominal / Stomach migraines

A stomach migraine is an form of severe stomach pain associated with nausea and vomiting. It is considered a migraine of the stomach or abdominal migraine because it has all the characteristics of a migraine without headaches. This variant of migraine is relatively rare and, as a result, it is sometimes difficult to diagnose.

Abdominal migraines are prevalent in infants, toddlers, children and teens. Studies have shown that up to around 4% of children experience abdominal migraines. Most of these children come from a family that have a history of migraines.
This type of migraine is known to disappear on its own once the child has grown up. In very rare and severe cases, some adults have experienced abdominal migraines. As a result of its rare occurrence in adults, it might take years to correctly diagnose it in them.

6.5) Basilar migraines

Basilar migraine is related to the base of the brain, known as the brain stem, which is located near an important blood vessel known as the basilar artery. Basilar migraine affects men and women, but women are affected three times more frequently than men, such as classic migraine. Basilar migraine characterized by an aura that produces symptoms such as double vision, dizziness, balance problems, disorders in hearing and speech. It can also cause weakness or loss of strength on one side of the body, or numbness or tingling in the arms or legs on one side of the body. Loss of consciousness is also possible; In these cases, it is necessary to quickly consult a medical emergency because it can be a stroke. In general, basilar migraine lasts an hour or less.

6.6) Menstrual migraines

Some women are unlucky. On top of the discomfort that comes with periods, some of them have migraines. Migraines that occur slightly before or during periods are referred to as menstrual migraines. They are mainly believed to be caused by the low levels of oestrogen. The levels of this hormone fall before menstrual flow begins and remain low during the flow.
Once the oestrogen levels fall, the body adjust to the new level. The phase before and during adjustment is what triggers the migraine. Menstrual migraines are often accompanied by headaches. Symptoms of menstrual migraines greatly improve due to the consistent high levels of oestrogen.

Of course, there are somme other types of rare migraines that are not mentioned here.

7. Migraines during Pregnancy

First time pregnancies are known to cause migraines. Plus pregnant women who have a history of migraines tend to experience more migraines during their pregnancy. During pregnancy the hormones are usually out of control thus increasing the chances of suffering from a migraine. Not to mention that it is also triggers other conditions for instance dropping of the blood sugar, emotional and physical stress, tension, nasal congestion as well as overheating. These conditions increase the possibility of a migraine.
It also happens that the women who suffer from migraines during their monthly periods end up experiencing such headaches less often during pregnancy. Word has it that, the fewer migraines experienced during pregnancy is as a result of high levels of estrogen.

8. How to Get Rid of Migraines?

The pain associated with migraines is severe. It is therefore important to know what to do in case calamity strikes. This way you will be well prepared and equipped. The following steps will help you to get rid of your migraine in the shortest time possible :
  • Have a treatment plan: most doctors will advise you to have a treatment plan. This saves you time and ensures you don’t start over thinking and panicking which by the way could increase your pain. It is better if your doctor helps you with the treatment plan. In most cases, it involves some medication.
  • Treat the symptoms: anyone who has experienced a migraine will tell you there are not looking forward to for the next episode. You should therefore make a point to treat your migraine once the aura starts. That way you will surely doge a bomb.
  • Identify the cause: in some cases, medication may not be the answer. In rge instance where it is caused say by hunger, food is the best remedy. Identifying the cause may save you the pain and agony of the migraine and the discomfort of pills.
  • Relax: the best place to relax would be a dark and quiet place. This is because light and sound sensitivity are the leading symptoms of migraines. Take a break from light and sound if you can.
  • Take some coffee: most migraine medication contains caffeine. What is the surest, easiest and most satisfying method of getting caffeine into your systems?
  • Temperature trick: we have all used an ice pack or heat pack on other injuries. The hot/cold therapy can also work in migraines. Just find the one that works for you and you are good to go.

9. Home Tips and Remedies

The pain associated with migraines is severe. It is therefore important to know what to do in case calamity strikes. This way you will be well prepared and equipped. The following steps will help you to get rid of your migraine in the shortest time possible :
  • Peppermint: a mint or just a cup of peppermint tea can be your ultimate miracle worker
  • Nap: silence and darkness is just like the best medication for a migraine. Is there a better way to get them than while napping?
  • Put some food in your stomach: did you know that an empty stomach spells imbalanced sugar levels that translate to headaches and migraines?
  • Water: dehydration will have you screaming. Why not just drink some water and dehydrate that body you love so much!
  • Caffeine: just work that coffee maker and settle in for a generous cup of comfort


Am sure you now know almost everything there is on migraines. The best part is probably the fact that you now know how to get rid of that nagging migraine. Doesn’t matter whether it strikes when you are at home because the home tips have you covered. Don’t forget to seek medical attention if the migraines symptoms worsen or when they are too frequent.


For further information about natural remedies for migraines, please read the following articles:



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