Migraine headache self-check test: Migraine triggers and prevention.

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Check if your symptoms are a migraine headache.

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There are 6 points to check if it is a migraine or not.
If you have two points among 1) to 4) and 1 point among 5) and 6), there is a big probability that it is a migraine.
A migraine usually lasts from 4 to 72 hours. This time depends on each individual and situation.
Besides the above symptoms, food cravings, slight yawn, mood changes, swelling of feet and arms can warn of an upcoming migraine.
Among 10 % to 20 % of people who have a migraine, a visual aura is preceding. Aura usually begins in the center of the visual field, lasts for 5 to 60 minutes. Migraine occurs just after or within 60 minutes after the aura.

What is a migraine headache?

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It's not a disease which causes a migraine, but it is one of chronic headaches.
The characteristics of a migraine headache are a throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, as well as pain worsening by moving.
People suffering migraine headaches either on their right-hand side or their left hand side are 60 %. There are 40 % to suffer from a pain on both sides. In Japan, around 8.4 million people are suffering from migraine headaches and there are more women than men.

Causes of a migraine

We don't really know the causes, however one theory is the stimulation of the temporal area by several factors. Some inflammation occurs around the trigeminal nerve which encloses blood vessels of the brain. We think that pain occurs by the dilatation of blood vessels.

Migraine main triggers

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As women's hormonal secretion, sleeping and appetite are depending on temporal area, women menstrual periods, ovulation, delivery, menopause, change in wake-sleep pattern and food cravings are migraine triggers.
Also, as the temporal area commands the autonomic nerve, other factors like stress and relief from stress, bright lights, strong smells, crowds, noise pollution, weather changes, the change in temperature or humidity and alcohol are migraine triggers.

Treatments to relieve a migraine headache

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If you want to relieve symptoms of a migraine, we recommend you to cool the painful spot with a cold towel. If you warm or rub the painful spot, it might have an opposite effect. Moreover, when you have a headache, we recommend you not to take a bath. Rest in a quiet, dark room and try to sleep a little may calm the symptoms. When the pain is bearable, you can take nonprescription drugs.

Type of treatments for migraine headache

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If cooling the area doesn't help and you have problems to cope with daily life, we recommend you to talk to your doctor or to the nearest internal medicine doctor. If symptoms don't get better, you should see a specialist (headache clinic or a neurologist).

The main treatment of migraine headaches is drug therapy. Triptans has the function to reduce inflammation around the trigeminal nerve and constrict blood vessels. Triptans are most effective when taken early just when the pain has started.

If the start of migraine headache is not very clear, try to bow or shake your head to the right and left. If pain increases, we think that it is time to intake triptans.

Triptans comes as migraine tablets, one to be in dispersible form and one in ingestible form. For those who have nausea and cannot swallow, there are nasal spray preparations.

There is also an injection form to be injected by oneself in the thigh. Its effect is immediate and could be effective even if you vomit or if your headache has already begun.

In case you can't intake triptans?

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Triptans have the function to constrict blood vessels. For this reason, it should not be used by those who have either a past history or risk factors, of cerebral infarction, angina・myocardial infarction. There is a risk of aggravation of these diseases. Besides, we recommend people to refrain of the use of triptans in case of high blood pressure or impaired liver function.

For people who can't use triptans, we recommend the use of NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs). For pregnant women and breastfeeding women, see your doctor to discuss about the best treatment.

Headaches drugs are efficient if you use them correctly. Be careful not to overuse them by your own decision, there are risks of over-using headaches medications. There is a possibility to use preventive drugs in some cases. Such as people having headaches 2 to 3 times a month, headaches lasting a long time which unable people to realize daily tasks. People using triptans which are not efficient, or people anxious to have migraines can also take preventive drugs if wanted.

Keep a daily diary about your migraine headaches to grasp its frequency

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Example of a diary of a woman in her twenties.

To prevent migraine headaches, a daily diary is helpful.
The records may include information on:

• whether the pain is throbbing, piercing
• how long the attacks last
• influence on daily life
• the situation of use of medicines
• other symptoms (such as being sick, or vomiting)
• Women should record details of their menstrual cycle
• stress, sleep pattern (not enough sleep or sleep too much)
• weather, etc.

Indicate triggers and warning signs of migraine headaches by oneself will be helpful.

After one-month record, it will help you to recognize the tendency of the attacks. You can predict easily what will happen when your migraines strike. Showing this diary to your doctor may make the visit successful.

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