Many think of a migraine as just another headache. The truth is that a migraine headache is nothing like a regular headache. Migraines are debilitating headaches that commonly include throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head. These headaches can last from four to seventy-two hours and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to lights, sounds and smells, dizziness, disrupted vision and numbness in the face and/or hands.
A migraine is not just a headache; it is a syndrome that affects thousands of people very day. This syndrome is typically accompanied by one or all of the above symptoms. Many who have migraine headaches attempt to use over-the-counter medications to alleviate pain and many simply go undiagnosed. Diagnosing a migraine is not an easy task. A physician must rule out other reasons for these terrible headaches, such as tumors. Many tests are often performed on a patient to eliminate any other diagnosis before the diagnosis of a migraine is found.
Research into this syndrome has shown that nearly 25 million women suffer from this debilitating disorder in the United States alone. Children are also affected, but often go undiagnosed and untreated due to their young age. Treatment for migraines has changed significantly over the past few years. Doctors no longer dismiss patients with chronic headaches as having psychiatric troubles. Researchers have found that migraines are the cause of dilation and constriction of the blood vessels in the head. While earlier migraine treatment medicines focused more on those blood vessels for pain relief, today researchers believe that migraine headaches are more of a disorder of brain chemicals and nerve pathways. Research has also found links to genetic involvement in migraine sufferers.
Migraines can be treated with specific medications, although there are currently more than 100 drugs on the market available for patients who have been diagnosed with this syndrome. Simply choosing the right medicine for each individual could take months or even years as patients go through each type of medication in order to find the right fit. Researchers have put many hours into investigating whether or not opiates play a factor in the progression of chronic migraines. Overuse of painkillers and other medications can lead to chronic migraines as well.
To date, migraines are still misunderstood and more often than not, mistreated. Researchers are still searching for the main causes of migraines and the answer to why certain medications will work for some patients but not for others. The fact that many medications do not work for some patients and the medications that do work for patients not alleviating every migraine attack have many researchers baffled as to the complete understanding of this syndrome.
Ongoing research is being done to understand just how genetics play a role in the progression of the migraine syndrome and to find new medications that may help those with chronic migraine attacks. Many organizations have been founded to help aid in research efforts as well as to offer information for better understanding the syndrome to migraine sufferers.
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