Patients suffering from migraine pain can feel the effects not only physically, but it can cut into loss of work, costing billions. Patients reporting intense, frequent and debilitating headache pain are often found to have a migraine disorder.  At the Miami Headache Institute, our specialty is treating migraines effectively in cases where patients have not been able to experience relief from prior treatments.

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While very common, migraine headache causes are often not well understood by those that suffer from them. Questions range from inquiries about causes and symptoms to the effectiveness of different treatments. Despite some of the uncertainties and further research required regarding migraines, at Miami Headache Institute our staff has a successful track record in effectively treating migraine headaches.

Migraines tend to be severe in intensity and are often debilitating to patients. Nearly 40% of patients find it impossible to perform many routine tasks while suffering through an episode. Progressing from a dull ache in the front of the head to an intense pounding pain that may move to other parts of the head, a migraine can last anywhere from hours to days.

Migraine headaches are known to worsen after physical exertion and are often accompanied by increased sensitivity to light and sound. Exact migraine headache causes have never been isolated, but studies have shown that they are closely related to changes in the brain and to genetics. As many as four out of every five migraine sufferers have a history of migraines in their families. In fact, the chance of developing migraines increases by 75% if both of ones parents suffer from the disorder.

What researchers call a pain center for migraines has been discovered in the brain. This area of the brain has hyperactive nerves that cause blood vessels to constrict and expand, releasing an inflammatory substance to parts of the body. Migraines can be triggered by internal and external factors including stress, lack of sufficient sleep or nutrition, excessive caffeine consumption and fatigue.

Migraine Headache Disorder Treatment

A serious impairment in the ability to perform daily tasks is reported by 39% of migraine patients with more than half experiencing a more complete loss of function and requiring bed rest to deal with the pain.  Fewer than one in ten migraine patients do not suffer from this disabling effect. Migraines cost American businesses over thirteen billion dollars every year.  Many sufferers will miss over a week of work every year due to their migraines alone.

Migraine headache disorders are as many as three times more common in women than in men.  There seems to be a link between fluctuating female hormones and the occurrence of migraine symptoms and these hormonal changes are probably responsible for menstrual migraines.  Upwards of sixty percent of women suffering from migraines report increased onset during their menstrual cycle.

The majority of people with migraine disorders are not receiving medical care. This fact contributes to under and mis-diagnosis as well as self prescribed treatment and overuse of medication that can, in turn, lead to increased symptom frequency. Disorders also associated with migraines and chronic headaches are depression, sleep disorders, anxiety, epilepsy and stroke.  Migraines and these associated disorders can be treated with similar medications and share many traits.

MIGRAINES HAVE FOUR PHASES

The major phases of a migraine headache are the prodrome phase, the aura phase, the headache phase and the resolution phase. Most, but not all, headaches patients experience these same phases in that order. The four phases are detailed below.

PRODROME PHASE

Prodrome phase symptoms precede the migraine by up to 24 hours and are experienced by 60% of migraine patients.  The symptoms, which signal the oncoming headache, may include mood shifts, increased yawning, increased thirst, bloating, neck pain, excessive urination, constipation and diarrhea. Increased sensitivity to lights and sounds is also common.

AURA PHASE

The aura phase is experience by about 15% of migraine patients.  The appearance of aura in migraine patients usually assures the onset of a headache.  The aura phase can last as long as an hour.  Visual auras are the most common and can include the patient seeing flashing or shimmering lights. Other neurological symptoms such as hemisparesis and paresthesias are known to accompany auras before migraines.

HEADACHE PHASE

The headache phase of a migraine begins unilateral but can evolve to bilateral if the pain moves to another section of the head.  The associated throbbing and pulsing pain can increase due to cranial pressure.  Things like physical activity, coughing and sneezing will increase the pain.  Secondary symptoms that commonly appear are nausea, vomiting, dizziness, phonophobia and photophobia.  Most patients will seek a bed in a quiet dark room during this phase.

RESOLUTION PHASE

Exhaustion, mood shifts and irritability are the most common symptoms during the resolution phase.
For those that already suffer from migraines the most important question is how to control them. At the Miami Headache Institute we employ a variety of treatments. Doctors and staff at Miami Headache Institute are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of migraine headaches.  We will provide a number of treatment options to combat your particular headache symptoms and causes. Call us today to schedule your first appointment.