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whentaniatalks: Migraines - What Are They? (Symptoms)

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Migraines - What Are They? (Symptoms)

What is a Migraine? Let me start by saying that a migraine is not 'just a headache' as many people seem to think. Let's look first at the symptoms of a migraine, before considering possible causes and triggers in the next post.

Whilst a migraine does, like a headache, include pain in the head it is usually confined to a specific area (not necessarily the left or right side though). Migraineurs (people who suffer from migraines) also experience a range of other symptoms. These can appear very distressing to the sufferer and/or those around them. There are two main types of migraines, those with and without aura. Symptoms vary accordingly.

Migraine without Aura/'Common' Migraine
This is the the basic form of migraine and includes the following symptoms:
Sensitivity to light, noise and/or movement

Migraine with Aura/'Classical' Migraine
Migraine auras come in different forms. They last for about half an hour and are usually followed by other migraine symptoms (but not always). In 'Migraine: The Natural Way,' Eileen Herzberg gives a loose definition of migraine auras as being hallucinations. I prefer to think of them as distortions of reality, as I will explain when discussing my own experiences in a later post.
The aura part of a migraine can affect any of the senses - sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing, as well as consciousness.
Auras can be classed as either positive or negative. A positive aura is when one or more of the senses experience something additional. The addition of zigzags, patterns, stars and similar to the vision is an example of this. Loosing ones sense of smell, or seeing a head without a face are examples of negative auras.
There are a wide range of aura symptoms including (but not exclusively):
Seeing bright lights, stars, spots, swirling patterns and experiencing smells that are not actually there may occur. Auras can also be experienced as sounds that are either very loud or appear ver distant. Hemiplegic Migraine can be included under the umbrella of Migraine with Aura, the temporary partial weakness being a distortion of the feelings down one side. At its most extreme, this weakness can be to the point of paralysis -  very distressing due to the similarities with a stroke. It is important to remember that this is temporary. If a stroke is suspected, seek emergency assistance immediately. Speech is another area that can be affected, either by not being able to vocalise your thoughts (even though you may have the  words in your head) or being slurred. Memory, perception and consciousness can also be found in those who suffer from Migraine with Aura.

Abdominal Migraine
This type of migraine is much more common in the 'younger generation'. I have a recollection of reading somewhere that children do not suffer with 'standard' migraines, but Abdominal Migraines instead. My earliest memory of migraines isn't actually of my own. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of my younger sister by two years being sick (we shared a room) while my Mum held her hair back and tried to sooth her. I had no idea at the time that this was an Abdominal Migraine, I was just really scared. I thought there was something seriously wrong with her she was so poorly. I digress. Abdominal Migraines can be contained within the stomach, or they can precede the onset of the head pain associated with migraine (essentially a cross between Abdominal Migraine and Migraine with Aura).

This is by no means a comprehensive list and is intended as a guideline and basis for my future blog posts. If you suspect that you may suffer from migraines, please consult your GP.

Tania x

Useful resources -
Migraine: The Natural Way, Eileen Herzberg. Element, 1994. 123 pages. ISBN 1852304952
Migraine and Epilepsy, Jan de Vries. Mainstream Publishing, 1987. 122 pages. ISBN 1851588205
Migraine Action Association. www.migraine.org.uk/. Ā© 2004-2012 Migraine Action.



At 21 February 2015 at 17:40 , Anonymous Grown Up Grace said...

I suffer from migraines and agree it is frustrating when people say that it is just a headache. The aura is one of the worst parts for me, it always starts around the edges and then after a while I see nothing but weird patterns. I'm usually sick a few times too and can't stand the smell of anything strong. Luckily I don't suffer with them very often.



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