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Migraine: Introduction

A migraine is a specific type of headache that is severe, persistent and often occurs in conjunction with a wide variety of symptoms. Migraines can be so severe that they can be disabling in many cases, leading to serious disruption of work, school, relationships, and social activities.

Migraines are the result of a constriction of the arteries in the brain, which reduces blood flow to the brain. This is followed by dilation or widening of these arteries. This process results in the classic symptoms of migraine that include sensory disturbances and headache. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of migraine.

Migraines are often, but not always, triggered by one or more specific substances or situations. These can vary greatly from person to person. Common triggers include chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, red wine, and aged cheese, sausages and other aged foods. Certain food additives, such as monosodium glutamate, nitrates and nitrites can also elicit a migraine. Other common triggers include allergies, emotional stress, bright lights, fluorescent lights, high altitudes, extreme exertion, and extreme changes in weather. In some women hormonal changes due to the menstrual cycle can trigger migraines. Migraines are more common in women than in men.

Making a diagnosis of migraine includes performing a complete evaluation that includes a medical history, including symptoms, and physical examination. This includes a neurological examination. A neurological exam evaluates the brain and nerves and such functions as level of consciousness, reflexes, sensation, movement, balance, coordination, vision, and hearing. This can help to differentiate between a migraine and other neurological conditions, such as stroke. A referral to a neurologist, a specialist in treating neurological conditions, is generally made for definitive diagnosis and treatment of migraine.

Because many people with migraines have visual disturbances, an eye examination is performed to rule-out such eye conditions as detached retina. An eye examination includes testing visual acuity or sharpness of vision, checking the sharpness of peripheral vision, and testing the pressure inside the eye. The outer eye is examined using an instrument called a slit lamp, and the inner eye is examined using an instrument called an ophthalmoscope. During the exam with an ophthalmoscope, the pupils of the eye may be dilated (opened up) with a drop of medication to better visualize any changes in the retina.

The diagnostic process also involves keeping a migraine log or diary to record the timing, symptoms, and the types of situations that occurred or substances that were ingested before the migraine occurred. This can help to diagnose triggers and assist in making lifestyle changes that can minimize migraine headaches. The type of treatment and its results are also recorded to help pinpoint the most effective treatment for an individual.

It is possible that a diagnosis of migraine can be missed or delayed because symptoms can be similar to symptoms of other conditions and diseases, such as stroke and transient ischemia attack. For more information on diseases and conditions that can mimic migraine, refer to misdiagnosis of migraine.

Patient compliance with a good treatment plan can control symptoms of migraine to a degree that allows a person to live a normal active life. Treatment plans include medications and avoiding substances and situations that can trigger a migraine. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of migraine. ...more »

Migraine: Migraines are a form of chronic recurring headaches. It is mistaken to assume that any form of chronic headache is a migraine, as migraines have very special symptoms, and there are numerous other causes of chronic headache: tension headache, and others; see also the list of underlying conditions for headache in general. Even within migraine there are several subtypes including both with and without a preceding aura, basilar artery migraine, and even headache-free migraine where there is no headache! ...more »

Migraine: Symptoms

People who have migraines can experience a wide variety of symptoms. Symptoms of migraines are the result of a constriction and dilation or widening of arteries in the brain. This process results in the classic symptoms of migraine, which include a severe, throbbing persistent headache that increases in intensity. The headache generally starts on one ...more symptoms »

Migraine: Treatments

The most effective treatment plan for migraine uses a multifaceted approach. Treatment plans are also individualized to best address the specific triggers and severity of the migraine, the patient's age, medical history, and other factors.

Treatment of migraine begins with prevention. This includes diagnosing and avoiding the underlying triggers of a migraine, such as eating aged ...more treatments »

Migraine: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of migraine may be overlooked or delayed because symptoms may not occur very often. In addition, some symptoms, such as visual disturbances, numbness, dizziness, and headache can mimic symptoms of other conditions, such as a stroke, transient ischemia attack, psychosis, retinal detachment, cluster headaches, tension headache, brain tumor, ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Migraine

Treatments for Migraine

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Migraine:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Migraine?

Migraine: Related Patient Stories

Migraine: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Migraine.

Alternative Treatments for Migraine

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Migraine may include:

Types of Migraine

  • Classic migraine - with an aura
  • Common migraine - without an aura
  • Menstrual migraine - predictable migraine related to menstrual periods
  • Hemiplegic migraine - temporary one-sided paralysis, sometimes with balance problems and vertigo.
  • Ophthalmoplegic migraine - around the eye and may involve droopy eyelid and vision disturbances such as double vision.
  • more types...»

Curable Types of Migraine

Possibly curable types of Migraine include:

  • Exertion related migraine
  • Medication related migraine
  • Food and alcohol related migraine
  • more types...»

Rare Types of Migraine:

Rare types of Migraine include:

  • Exertion related migraine
  • Medication related migraine
  • Food and alcohol related migraine
  • more types...»

Migraine: Complications

Read more about complications of Migraine.

Causes of Migraine

  • Genetic causes - autosomal dominance
  • Secondary to brain dysfunction
  • Depolarization theory
  • Vascular theory
  • Family history of migraine headaches (70-80%)
  • more causes...»

More information about causes of Migraine:

Disease Topics Related To Migraine

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Migraine:

Migraine: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Migraine

Migraine an undiagnosed cause of headache: It is surprising that many migraine sufferers are not initially diagnosed. Although the more »

Rare type of breast cancer without a lump: There is a less common form of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer. Its symptoms can be an inflammation of the breast tissue, such as with a breast rash more »

Leg cramps at night a classic sign: The symptom of having leg muscle cramps, particularly at night, is a classic sign of undiagnosed diabetes. However, there are also various other causes. See causes of leg cramps or more »

Mild traumatic brain injury often remains undiagnosed: Although the symptoms of severe brain injury are hard to miss, it is less clear for milder injuries, more »

MTBI misdiagnosed as balance problem: When a person has symptoms such as vertigo or dizziness, a diagnosis of brain injury may go overlooked. more »

Post-concussive brain injury often misdiagnosed: A study found that soldiers who had suffered a concussive injury in battle often more »

Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be correctly diagnosed in pediatric patients. These patients are not the typical migraine sufferers, but migraines can also occur in more »

Undiagnosed celiac disease in pregnancy harms fetus: The failure to diagnose the common but less known digestive disease celiac disease (see symptoms of celiac disease) is linked to adverse fetal more »

Pituitary conditions often undiagnosed cause of symptoms: There are a variety of symptoms that can be caused by a pituitary disorder (see symptoms of more »

Vitamin B12 deficiency under-diagnosed: The condition of Vitamin B12 deficiency is a possible misdiagnosis of various conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (see more »

Misdiagnosed weight-related causes of infertility: A woman's weight status can affect her level of fertility. Although obesity or overweight can in themselves reduce fertility, there are more »

Migraine: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Migraine

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Migraine:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Migraine, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Migraine: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Latest Treatments for Migraine

Migraine: Animations

Prognosis for Migraine

Prognosis for Migraine: Migraine usually does not represent a significant threat to health. However, in rare circumstances, people with migraine may be at risk of serious complications. A severe migraine may result in a stroke, possibly due to prolonged constriction of blood vessels. Some people may have side effects of medications.

Research about Migraine

Visit our research pages for current research about Migraine treatments.

Clinical Trials for Migraine

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Migraine include:

Prevention of Migraine

Prevention information for Migraine has been compiled from various data sources and may be inaccurate or incomplete. None of these methods guarantee prevention of Migraine.

Statistics for Migraine

Migraine: Broader Related Topics

Migraine Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Migraine, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Article Excerpts about Migraine

The most common type of vascular headache is migraine. Migraine headaches are usually characterized by severe pain on one or both sides of the head, an upset stomach, and at times disturbed vision. (Source: excerpt from Headache -- Hope Through Research: NINDS)

Definitions of Migraine:

A subtype of vascular headaches characterized by periodic unilateral pulsatile headaches which begin in childhood, adolescence, or early adult life and recur with diminishing frequency during advancing years. The two major subtypes are CLASSIC MIGRAINE (i.e., migraine with aura) and COMMON MIGRAINE (i.e., migraine without aura). Migrainous episodes may be associated with alterations in cerebral blood flow. (From Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, p172) - (Source - Diseases Database)

A severe recurring vascular headache; occurs more frequently in women than men - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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