Migraines are one of the most common chronic conditions in the world. Despite how common migraines are, there is still no consensus about what causes migraines, and many of the known facts about migraines make them even more confusing.
Migraines are a form of headache. The severity of the headache ranges dramatically: some people have only minor headaches while others become completely disabled once a migraine strikes. Headaches can last for hours or even days at a time. Diagnosing a migraine requires determining if enough symptoms match that of migraines. If the headache covers only half of the head, a migraine might be suspected. If it is pulsating in nature and classified as moderate or severe, a migraine may be diagnosed. Nausea is sometimes present, and many sufferers are sensitive to light and sound when dealing with a migraine. However, symptoms vary drastically between sufferers.
One of the odd aspects of migraines affects about one-third of sufferers: the aura. The aura proceeds migraines and is characterized by a strange visual disturbance that starts as a small, pulsating spot of light that gradually grows over 15 to 30 minutes. The aura quickly fades as the migraine begins. Other forms of auras may be present, but the visual form is most common. While the aura can be a nuisance, it does allow sufferers to know when a migraine will strike.
While no migraine treatment can completely eliminate migraines in all sufferers, there are medications that may help some. Another management technique is to try to identify events that trigger migraines. Hunger, stress and fatigue may cause some migraines, and certain foods have been linked to migraines. Some medication can increase the frequency of migraines as well, so sufferers are encouraged to log their migraines along with any changes in medication, diet, sleep and stress.
The cause of migraines, however, is still unknown. While there is a moderate genetic link, it is not known why migraines strike or even the nature of migraines. Currently, some researchers believe that migraines are a result of electrical activity in the brain. Others believe that the pain results from blood vessels changing. Because of how common and sometimes debilitating migraines are, research is ongoing and well funded.