People suffering from migraines understand that a migraine is more than “just a headache.” The excruciating pain and other symptoms make migraine sufferers unable to work or otherwise continue with their daily activities. For some, migraines become a regular occurrence disrupting their lives for more than just a day. Chronic migraines can make it difficult for a person to hold a job or enjoy spending time with their family.

Migraine Headaches Symptoms

The National Headache Foundation describes migraines as a pulsating or tMigraine Headaches TreatmentCredit: Flicker: Peretzpuphrobbing headache, often on one side of the head, and consisting of pain severe enough to prevent the person from participating in normal daily activities. Other symptoms associated with a migraine include nausea, vomiting, intolerance of noise or light, and seeing auras. Different people may see different types of auras. Auras may be floating white lights or spots, waves of light, or just blackness where the person feels as if she is blinded temporarily. Auras usually last less than an hour, but the pain and nausea of a migraine can last for several days.

Causes of Migraine Headaches

The causes of migraine headaches vary by individual. These triggers can include external stimuli such as air pressure changes, fluorescent lighting, stress, lack of sleep, nicotine exposure, perfumes, and strenuous activities.  Several foods and food additives known to be migraine triggers include aged cheeses such as cheddar, nitrates, MSG, chocolate, nuts, and alcohol. For women, hormonal fluctuations can also trigger a migraine. This list is not comprehensive. Each person affected by migraines may discover something that triggers his or her migraines that is not on the usual migraine trigger list. Doctors often recommend that those with migraines keep a daily activity and food diary to help pinpoint their specific migraine triggers.

Remedies for Migraine Headaches

Once the migraine hits, regular over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen do not ease the symptoms. Preventing migraines, by understanding and avoiding your migraine triggers and taking prescription medications are typically the first steps in treating migraines. Two common types of prescription medications used for migraines are “abortive medications” and “preventive medications.” Abortive medications such as Imitrex, Migranal, and anti-nausea medications treat active migraine symptoms. Migraine prevention medication may be prescribed when the migraines are a consistent and chronic issue. Preventive medications include drugs typically used to treat heart conditions, depression, and seizures.

When these standard treatments fail, or patients are leery of taking daily medications, many migraine sufferers look to migraine surgery. Migraine surgery involves the injection of Botox under the skin into the brow, sides of the forehead, back of the neck, and/or inside the nose depending on the patient’s symptoms. This treatment was an accidental discovery. Cosmetic patients, getting Botox injections to diminish wrinkles, noted a decrease in headaches and migraines as a side effect. The benefits of migraine surgery last up to three months before a repeat treatment is needed.

When migraines have become so regular that they disrupt your life, it’s time to see your doctor. With your doctor’s help, you can take an active role in fighting off your migraines by understanding your triggers, taking medication, or having migraine surgery. These steps can make it possible to begin enjoying all the little aspects of your life you miss out on as a chronic migraine headache sufferer.