Joyce Anne Duncan
AHP106 Medical Terminology Anatomy and Physiology
Migraines are an inherited neurological disorder that has been defined as over-excited areas of the brain, even though there is no clear difference in migraine susceptible brains verses the brain of a non-migraine sufferer. A migraine headache can cause intense throbbing or a pulsing sensation in one area of the head and is commonly accompanied by aura (seeing shapes, bright spots, or flashes, even vision loss), nausea, vomiting, extreme sensitivity to light, sound and smells. These attacks can cause extreme pain for hours to days and affect approximately 36 million Americans. According to statistics found, migraine affects everyday life in multiple ways.
One in four households in America has a member with migraine
Migraines are 3 times more common in women than men
Some migraine sufferers have chronic migraine in which they suffer at least 15 days of headache a month
Migraine costs the United States an estimated 20 billion a year due to medical expense and indirect expense which includes loss of work and loss of productivity.
Migraines are considered disabling. The World Health Organization places migraine as one of the 20 most disabling medical illnesses on the planet.
Those with migraine are more likely to have depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, other pain conditions and fatigue.
People that experience an aura phase have been shown to be at an increased risk for stroke and heart attack.
Currently there is no cure for migraine; doctors are only able to reduce the frequency and stop headaches as they occur. Patients are encouraged to keep a migraine diary in attempt to find their triggers. Triggers can be hormones, food and food additives, drink, stress, changes in wake-sleep patterns, medications, and physical exertion. There are a variety of tests that can be performed to rule out any other reason for the head pain. These tests are usually ordered by the doctor to diagnose migraine and they include blood tests to rule out blood vessel problems, CT or MRI scans to assess the brain itself and a spinal tap to look for any infection. Once these tests come back as normal, the doctor will then be able to diagnose as migraine. Once migraine has been diagnosed the doctor can then work with the patient to find the best method of treatment. Since there are no cures the patient can try pain relieving methods or preventative methods. Pain relieving, also know as acute or abortive treatment, these are types of drugs taken during migraine attacks and are designed to stop symptoms that have already begun. Preventive medications are types of drugs taken regularly, often on a daily basis, to reduce the severity or frequency of migraines. Pain relievers such as Aspirin or NSAIDs and drugs marketed specifically for migraines such as acetaminophen aspirin and caffeine combination , may help to relieve mild migraines. For stronger pain relief there are drugs called Triptans that work by constricting blood vessels and blocking pain pathways in the brain. For people who's pain last more than 48 hours Ergots have been found to be more effective. Ergots are Ergotamine and caffeine combination drugs, however these can worsen the nausea and vomiting associated with the migraine. And finally, there are Opioid medications and are prescribed as a last resort due to they are narcotics and are very habit-forming. Preventative medications are for patients who have four or more debilitating attacks a month. These medications include Cardiovascular drugs or beta blockers, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs and Botox. Cardiovascular drugs or beta blockers are also used to treat blood pressure and keep blood vessels from becoming narrow or wide. Antidepressants work by affecting the level of serotonin and other brain chemicals.