Migraine: not just any headache

Migraine is a specific form of headache and has a number of typical features that meet international criteria. It is a brain disorder that can be triggered by various factors such as stress.

What is migraine?

Migraine is described as a recurring headache that occurs in attacks lasting 4 to 72 hours. The pain is aggravated by physical activity and is accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
In 15% of migraine patients, the migraine attack precedes an aura. These auras announce the onset of the migraine attack. This phenomenon ensures that migraine patients can take their medication early and thus slow down or stop their migraine attack. The aura symptoms that can occur are:

  • Seeing flashes of light or spots of light (99%)
  • Tingling on one side of the body, numbness (31%)
  • Speech disorders (18%)
  • Visual field loss
  • Loss of strength

If one or more of these symptoms occur for more than 5 and less than 60 minutes, and are not caused by another condition, then one can speak of one or more auras.

Symptoms of migraine

  • Headache attack lasting at least 4 hours and maximum 72 hours.
  • Pulsating headache that feels one-sided.
  • Local pain.
  • Moderate to severe intensity.
  • Pain is aggravated by physical activity.
  • Light aversion and/or sensitivity to noise.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting.
  • The headache is not caused by another condition.


Causes of migraines

Migraine is a genetic condition and is therefore hereditary. If people in your family suffer from migraines, there is a greater chance that you will suffer from them too. There are also provoking factors, called triggers, that can cause you to have a migraine attack. For example, 80% of migraine patients experience migraine attacks due to stress. Other triggers may include alcohol, caffeine, smoking, or fatty foods.

What can you do against migraines?

Try to avoid triggering factors. Don’t skip meals, live a healthy diet, and sleep regularly. Don’t sleep too little, but certainly not too long. Sports are also recommended because migraines are triggered by stress in 80% of cases, and exercise can help with this.
If you have a migraine attack or feel it coming due to an aura, you should try to stop it. As soon as you get an aura, or as soon as you feel a headache coming on, take a painkiller and possibly medication for nausea and vomiting. Pain medication is usually taken in the form of pills, but injections, nasal sprays and suppositories may work better in the case of a migraine attack. An injection is useful, especially if you feel nauseous and have to vomit. The medication is then injected directly into your bloodstream and the pain becomes more bearable more quickly. Of course, you should consult a doctor for this.

Do you often suffer from migraines?

Take preventive medication. Migraine is incurable. You can keep it under control through medication and learn to live with it. Consult your doctor, or possibly a neurologist, for the correct medication.


About 18% of women and 6% of men suffer from migraine attacks. The peak age is between 25 and 55 years. Patients usually have one to four attacks per month. Each attack then lasts about a day or two. Most patients are disturbed in their daily activities because they have to rest in bed.

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