Migraine, what is it and what are the causes of migraines?

Migraine is a severe headache in attacks. An attack can last several hours, but in some cases an attack can also last days. Something goes wrong in the nervous system, the blood vessels in the head constrict, and then they dilate sharply. This will give you a big headache.

Migraine, what is it?

Migraine is a nasty, usually chronic disease. In the Netherlands, approximately 20% of the population suffers from migraine. Migraine often comes on in an attack. A migraine attack lasts 4 to 72 hours in adults and 30 minutes to 48 hours in children. This is different for every person. During a migraine attack you often cannot tolerate light and/or sound, you become nauseous and you may have a tendency to vomit. Some migraine patients also have severe intestinal complaints before, after or during the attack. You often have pain on one side of the head, not on both sides. Your head gives a throbbing, throbbing pain. Many people with migraine suffer from symptoms and see auras. During an attack, it is recommended to do no or little strenuous activities, as this will make the migraine worse and there is a chance that the attack will last even longer. The best thing to do is lie down and try to keep calm.

What are causes of migraines?

  • Sensory stimuli: Air pressure, sun, and bright light can sometimes trigger migraines. Noises and certain smells such as perfume can also trigger migraines.
  • Stress: Stress increases blood pressure, which can cause migraines.
  • Lack of sleep: Short sleep, or waking up often and not being able to fall back asleep often also cause migraines.
  • Diet: Sometimes migraines are caused by diet. Think especially of alcohol, chocolate and salty food. But lack of nutrition can also cause migraines. Skipping a meal and eating too little in a day can also cause migraines.
  • Physical exertion: Extensive exercise can also cause migraines. Your heart rate and blood pressure increases.
  • Female hormones: Many women suffer from migraines before, during or after menstruation. This may be due to the hormones. There are also women who can suffer from migraines when taking the contraceptive pill.


Medicines for migraines

Regular painkillers such as paracetamol often do not help. Medications that work against migraines and nausea, but not against other pain, are: Almotriptan, sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, and razitriptan. These medications are taken when the patient feels a headache coming on. So not only when it is already very bad, the medicine cannot do its job properly, causing the attack to continue. So it is best to take this medicine when you feel a headache coming on, the medicine will probably stop the attack and you will be the first to get rid of it! If these medications do not improve the condition, the patient is in most cases referred to a neurologist. Here the neurologist and the patient look at any treatment and medications that the patient will receive. Some patients also seek therapy for migraines. For example physiotherapy, yoga or acupuncture. But often this does not help enough, and painkillers and/or medications are still prescribed.

Can migraines be cured?

Unfortunately, no cure has yet been found to cure migraines. This is not possible, because the cause of migraine has not yet been found.

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