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This often severe, throbbing type of headache is different from other types of headaches in that symptoms other than pain occur with the headache. Nausea and vomiting, lightheadedness, sensitivity to light (photophobia), and other visual disturbances are common migraine symptoms. A migraine headache may last from 4 to 72 hours.
Migraines are also unique in that they have distinct phases. Not all people have each phase, however. The phases of a migraine headache may include:
Headaches are classified as with or without aura.
No one is quite sure exactly what causes a migraine headache. Many experts think changes in serotonin levels in the brain may be the cause.
In order to get an accurate diagnosis, it is important to describe your migraine symptoms to your doctor. Also, it is helpful to track when migraines occur (such as dates and times) and the details associated with migraine headaches. The following are the most common symptoms of migraine headache. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of migraine headache may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.
Migraine headaches are diagnosed based on your symptoms and a physical exam. You may need other tests or procedures to rule out underlying diseases or conditions.
Tracking and sharing information about your headache with your doctor helps with the process of making an accurate diagnosis. Consider writing down the following information to take to your medical appointment:
Diagnostic tests that may be used to confirm a migraine diagnosis include the following:
Specific treatment for migraine headaches will be determined by your health care provider based on:
Complications of migraine headaches may include:
The ultimate goal of treatment is to prevent migraines from occurring. Adequate management depends on the accurate identification of the type of headache and may include:
Migraine headaches may require specific medication management including:
Some headaches may require immediate medical attention, including hospitalization for observation, and diagnostic testing. Treatment is individualized, depending on the underlying condition causing the headache. Full recovery depends on the type of headache and other medical problems that may be present.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your health care provider:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.