Migraines are headaches of moderate to intense severity that occur on one side of the head – usually the right. Migraine headaches affect over 1 million people in Nigeria yearly with more women than men reporting symptoms.
Despite being common, migraines are poorly understood.
Ingestion of caffeine, chocolate, cheese and alcohol; exercise and orgasms have been associated with migraines.
Common risk factors of migraine headaches include obesity, family history, use of oral contraceptives, smoking, diabetes, being older than 35years, elevated blood pressure and menstruation.
• Auras - About a fifth of migraines come with sensory disturbances called an aura. The most common of which is visual. Affected individuals see scattering or fusion of lines, dots, zigzags, flashes of light, blind spots. This occurs about 20 – 60 minutes before a migraine. Other forms of aura include disruption of the sense of balance, verbal ability or motor function. The Aura may be followed by Auras may, however, be experienced without any headache.
• One-sided throbbing headache
• Loss of sensation starting from fingers to the face
• Joint pain
• Nausea and vomiting
• Weakness of eye muscles
• One-sided weakness of the body and often known by the patient.
Diagnosis is largely clinical and based on the history. In most cases, the affected individual correctly identifies it.
• Pain-relief medications
• Medications to stop vomiting
• Warm or cold compresses applied to the head
• Rebreathing into a paper bag
• Transcutaneous nerve stimulation
• Reduce or avoid smoking and alcohol intake
• Avoid triggers such as foods, drinks, specific activities known to bring the headaches on.
• Discontinue oral contraceptives and choosing an alternate type of contraception