About 1 out of 8 Americans has migraines. They usually begin during the teenage years. After puberty, migraines are more likely to affect girls and women.
Experts still aren't sure what causes these headaches. But they seem to involve a wave of unusual activity in brain nerve cells, along with changes in blood flow in the brain.
Though migraines can trigger severe pain in the head, they aren't simply headaches. They often also cause other uncomfortable symptoms, such as:
Medications can also prevent ocular migraines. Calcium-channel blockers, such as Cardene and Calan, are the most commonly used drugs. They work by opening up the blood vessels. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin are also sometimes used. Less often, your doctor may prescribe drugs used to prevent blood clotting, depression, and epilepsy.
A device is also an option. Cefaly is the first FDA-approved device for preventing migraines in people over age 18. The portable headband-like device gives electrical impulses on the skin at the forehead. This stimulates a nerve associated with migraine headaches. Cefaly is used once a day for 20 minutes, and when it's on you'll feel a tingling or massaging sensation.