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Migraines: what you need to know

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 | 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.