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Migraines: what you need to know

Neurosciences

Even though nearly 30 million Americans suffer from migraines, the National Headache Foundation reports that less than half of migraine sufferers have been diagnosed by a medical provider. Moreover, these throbbing pains are often misdiagnosed as either a sinus headache or tension headache. Bayhealth Primary Care, Eden Hill Internal Medicine Physician Zulehuma Rather, MD, says it’s important to know the following when determining whether you’re suffering from a migraine.


SIGNS OF A MIGRAINE INCLUDE:

  • Pain in the face or neck
  • A throbbing headache that is severe in nature and frequent
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Distracted vision or flashes of light
  • Irritability
  • Scalp tenderness

TRIGGERS OF MIGRAINES INCLUDE:

  • Foods such as aged cheese, ice cream, and those with additives
  • Stress
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Medications
  • Bright lights
  • Smells

THERE ARE VARIOUS WAYS YOU CAN TREAT MIGRAINES, INCLUDING:

  • Avoid triggers
  • Improve upon stress levels, sleep cycles, and diet
  • Take medications prescribed by your physician
  • Try muscle relaxation therapies and acupuncture
  • Take preventive medications such as beta blockers, antidepressants, seizure medications, and Botox®

YOU SHOULD CALL A DOCTOR IF:

  • You have three or more headaches per week
  • The headache gets worse or won’t go away
  • You are taking pain pills on a daily basis
  • The pain interferes with your daily activities
  • There is a change in the nature, intensity, or frequency of the headaches

A MIGRAINE DIAGNOSIS TYPICALLY COMES AFTER A PHYSICIAN HAS LOOKED AT A PATIENT’S:

  • Symptoms
  • Medical history
  • Neurological examination

“One thing I want patients to know is that they have to take charge and responsibility if they suffer from migraines,” Dr. Rather said. “Keep a migraine diary to figure out the pattern. This helps doctors to confirm diagnosis, identify triggers, and assess a treatment response. There are also mobile applications available to help patients with this.”

If you believe you suffer from migraines and are in need of a Bayhealth physician, visit Bayhealth's Find a Physician page or call 1-866-BAY-DOCS.