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Migraine Headache

What are migraine headaches?

Vascular headaches, a group that includes migraine, are thought to involve abnormal function of the brain's blood vessels or vascular system. The most common type of vascular headache is a migraine. Migraine headaches are usually characterized by the following:

  • Severe pain on one or both sides of the head

  • Nausea and/or vomiting

  • Disturbed vision and intolerance to light

People who get migraine headaches seem to have blood vessels that overreact to various triggers, which may include the following:

  • Stress and other emotions

  • Biological and environmental conditions

  • Fatigue

  • Glaring or flickering lights

  • Weather

  • Certain foods

What are the symptoms of migraine headaches?

The two most common types of migraines are classic migraines and common migraines. The following are the most common symptoms. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Classic migraines. A type of migraine that involves the appearance of neurological symptoms, called an aura (flashing lights or zigzag lines, or temporary loss of vision), 10 to 30 minutes before an attack. An attack may last one or two days. Pain associated with classic migraines may be described as:

    • Intense throbbing or pounding felt in the forehead, temple, ear, jaw, or around the eye.

    • Starting on one side of the head, but may spread to the other side.

  • Common migraine. A type of migraine that is generally not preceded by an aura, although there may be a variety of symptoms prior to its onset. Common migraine pain may last three or four days. Symptoms may include:

    • Mental "fuzziness"

    • Mood changes

    • Fatigue

    • Unusual retention of fluids

    • Diarrhea and increased urination

    • Nausea and vomiting

The symptoms of migraines may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

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