In case you were wondering how frequent migraines are, the condition affects as many as 1 billion people in the world and around 39 million people in the United States. Women are three times more likely to have migraines than men are.
Migraines are known for a pulsating or throbbing headache on one or both sides of the head, but they are much more than ordinary headaches. Migraine episodes are unique to each person experiencing them. Symptoms of a migraine may even change each time you encounter one.
According to Anne Calhoun, MD of the Carolina Headache Institute in North Carolina, if you have previously had a migraine, then you can be more certain that your future severe headaches are also migraines.
But how can you tell if you are experiencing a migraine and not just an ordinary headache? Here are some unique signs and symptoms of migraines:
- Aura: Some migraine sufferers experience having an aura. An aura is a warning sign that indicates a migraine episode is about to strike. Usually, they are visual disturbances such as flashes of light, sparkles, spots, or lines. Some people also report seeing a jagged line that may involve cross hatches and might move in a curvy path. Some people have migraine auras without experiencing any headache.
- Throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head: Pulsating head pain is a common sign of migraines. An online survey done by the National Headache Foundation involving migraine patients revealed that 50% of them always have throbbing on one side, while 34% shared they have this symptom often.
- Neck pain: During the early stage of a migraine, many complain of a stiff neck that goes along with a headache. Some feel throbbing neck pain after a migraine in the back of their neck. Another statistic from the National Headache Foundation study is that 38% of those with migraines always have neck pain, and 31% often have it in the middle of a migraine episode.
- Numbness or tingling: Like a visual aura, it is a disturbance but is sensory. Those with migraines may feel numbness or a momentary lack of sensation, and a pins-and-needles feeling often on one side of the body. It usually spreads from the fingertips through the arm and across the face.
- Inability to sleep well: Having difficulties falling asleep or waking up feeling unrested is frequent for people with migraines. Numerous studies connect the lack of restorative sleep to the frequency and intensity of migraines. This can be a vicious cycle as inadequate sleep can also trigger migraine episodes.
- Sensitivity to light, smells, or loud noises: Most of the time, loud sounds, bright lights, and certain smells make migraines much worse. This is the reason why most migraine sufferers choose to lie down in a quiet, cool, dark room until the pain subsides.
- Food cravings: Before a migraine episode hits, some people crave for certain foods, usually chocolate.
- Nausea and vomiting: A study showed that as many as 73% of migraine patients experience nausea and vomiting. Those with nausea and vomiting have more severe pain and frequently have more trouble looking for pain relief than those without.
- Depression, irritability, or excitement: According to Dr. Calhoun, you may suddenly feel sad for no reason. However, others may feel strangely elated or happy. Researchers claim there is possibly a genetic link between migraines and depression, specifically migraines with aura. During the 2010 annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, it was suggested that moderate to severe depression increases your risk of episodic migraines.
- Eye pain: Migraine pain can spread into the eye. It is not due to eyestrain. Getting your eyes checked if they make you worry can be useful, but it will not help stop your migraines.
- Stuffy nose or watery eyes: Some migraine sufferers also display sinus headache symptoms such as a stuffy nose, tearing of the eyes, clear nasal drainage, or droopy eyelids. A study done by GlaxoSmithKline discovered that 90% of people who believe they are having sinus headaches are actually experiencing migraines.
- Frequent urination: Having to go to the bathroom to urinate may indicate that a migraine is about to happen. This can begin to occur an hour or up to two days before the start of the headache.
- Speech issues: Difficulties thinking of words or inability to speak clearly can be a sign that a migraine is about to come on.
- More intense pain due to activity: Simple activities such as walking up the stairs or driving can strengthen pain in migraine sufferers.
Natural Treatment for Both Headaches and Migraines
One often missed possible reason for migraines is a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine, specifically the C1 and C2 vertebrae. These bones protect the brainstem from damage but are susceptible to moving out of place due to their flexibility. A misalignment in either of these two bones can put the brainstem under stress, resulting in malfunctions in relaying signals to the brain. This can trigger a migraine.
Here at Upper Cervical of Sioux Falls, an upper cervical chiropractic clinic in South Dakota, we utilize a gentle yet effective technique to encourage the neck bones to realign naturally. We do not resort to popping or cracking the neck to achieve positive results. Our patients often notice an improvement in their migraine symptoms even after their first adjustment. Contact our clinic to see how we can help you to decrease or stop your migraine suffering entirely.