Migraines and Headaches

Migraine headaches affect millions

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More than 28 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches, a type of headache that is often severe or even disabling. These migraine headaches may be accompanied by light sensitivity, nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine pain can be excruciating and may incapacitate sufferers for hours or even days. Often a person suffering from a severe migraine will need total silence and/or darkness. Three times more women suffer from migraines than men.

People feel that their migraines are triggered by something. Triggers might include:

  • Certain foods- such as coffee, tea, chocolate, cheese, and red wine, citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, nuts and nut butters.
  • Change in sleep patterns- too little or too much sleep.
  • Hormone balance in women- such as periods, the pill, menopause.
  • Stress
  • Irregular meals
  • Caffeine withdrawal
  • Physical activity, too much or too little.
  • Smoking
  • Lights, flashing strobe, high intensity e.g. Sodium halide (stadium, large facility lighting.
  • Noise
  • High pressure weather conditions, changes in barometer pressure, hot dry winds, exposure to sun and glare
  • Sexual arousal.
  • Smells-perfumes, paint, cleaning chemicals.


  • A typical migraine headache produces some or all of these signs and symptoms:
  • Moderate to severe pain
  • Pain on one side or both sides of the head
  • Pulsating or throbbing head pain
  • Pain that increases with physical activity
  • Unable or limited ability to perform daily tasks
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sound sensitivity
  • Light sensitivity

Left untreated, a migraine headache can last from four to 72 hours. The frequency at which migraines occur varies from person to person.

Classic Migraine (Migraine with Aura)

This type of migraine affects about one-fourth of all migraine sufferers. People sense when a migraine is coming on by the signs or symptoms. Nervous system symptoms – called aura develop before the migraine.

These may include:

  • Sparkling flashes of light
  • Dazzling zigzag lines in your field of vision
  • Slowly spreading blind spots
  • Tingling, pins and needles sensation in one arm or leg
  • Weakness
  • Speech problems
  • Migraine without aura or “Common Migraine”

This type of migraine headache affects 3 out of 4 people who get migraines. The headache comes on suddenly without any warning. There are the usual migraine headache symptoms- headache, sickness, sensitivity to light and sound but there are no aura symptoms.

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