Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation
Everyone seems to know someone who suffers from migraines. According to the national Migraine Foundation, migraines affect 39 million people in the U.S. and over 1 billion worldwide. Migraines are the third most prevalent illness in the world. Eighteen percent of women, 6% of men and 10% of children suffer from migraines. About 90% of sufferers have a family history of migraines.
For some, migraines can be seriously debilitating. In fact, it is the sixth most disabling illness in the country. Every 10 seconds someone goes to the emergency room complaining of head pain with over 1.2 million resulting as an acute migraine attack. While most people may suffer migraines occasionally, over four million people deal with chronic daily migraines which result in their inability to work or function normally during their migraine attack.
Migraines are not just a headache, they are a neurological disorder. It starts with a severe recurring pain that is generally on one side of the head. Migraine attacks may also have disabling and visual disturbances such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell and tingling or numbness in the facial extremities. A small number of people experience what is known as aura. This includes seeing light flashes, blind spots, zigzag lines and shimmering lights.
One of the most common actions people take at the onset of a migraine is to lie on a bed in a dark room with a cool towel. To get to the bottom of ongoing migraine recurrences, it is important to identify a pattern in your symptoms. Keeping a journal with the dates, recent activities, and foods eaten can help figure out what might be triggering the migraine.
One of the most common triggers is stress, which sparks a migraine for about 70% of people. The best way to cope with this is to make a list of known stressors and then work toward reducing the issue that is causing your migraine. Changes or an irregular sleep schedule can be a culprit with nearly half of all migraine attacks occurring between 4 and 9 a.m. The best way to manage this is to try to go to bed at the same time every night and get seven to eight hours of sleep.
Hormones are the reason that women are three times more likely to have a migraine than men. Speak to your physician, gynecologist or a headache specialist for treatment options. Currently there are only about 750 certified headache specialists nationally for a syndrome affecting over 39 million people.
Caffeine and alcohol can bring on a migraine for some, while conversely, others say a cup of coffee stops their migraines. Changes in weather, diet, dehydration, light, smells and medication overdoses can also cause a migraine reaction.
Because everyone’s experience with migraines is different, it is important to work with your physician to get a diagnosis so you can work toward a treatment plan that ensures the best results for your particular situation.
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