Is this topic for you?
This topic is about migraine headaches.
If you are looking for information about tension headaches, see Tension Headaches.
If you are looking for information about headaches in children, see
Headaches in Children.
What are migraine headaches?
painful, throbbing headaches that last from 4 to 72 hours. When you have a
migraine, it may be so painful that you are not able to do your usual
activities. But even though migraines make you feel bad,
they don't cause long-term damage.
are a health problem that can be treated. Talk to your
doctor about your migraines.
What causes migraines?
Experts are not sure what
Migraines run in families, but it isn't clear
why some people get migraines and others don't.
things can cause a migraine to start. These are called triggers. Your triggers
may be different from someone else's. Some common triggers
- Not eating.
- Poor sleep
- A change from your normal routine.
- Monosodium glutamate
- Strong odors.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom of a
migraine is a throbbing headache on one side of your head. You also may feel
sick to your stomach and vomit. Activity, light, noise, or odors may make the
migraine worse. The pain may move from one side of your head to the other, or
you may feel it on both sides at the same time. Different people have different
Some people have an
aura before the migraine begins. When you have an
aura, you may first see spots, wavy lines, or flashing lights. Your hands,
arms, or face may tingle or feel numb. The aura usually starts about 30 minutes
before the headache. But most people don't have auras.
How are migraines diagnosed?
A doctor can usually
tell if you have a migraine by asking about your symptoms and examining you. You probably will not need lab tests, but your doctor may order some if
he or she thinks your symptoms are caused by another disease.
How are they treated?
You can't cure
migraines. But medicines and other treatments may help you feel better and
limit how often you get migraines.
your doctor may want you to try an
over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, or
naproxen. Brand names include Tylenol, Bayer, Advil, and Aleve. Some over-the-counter medicines (for example, Excedrin) combine acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine. If these medicines don't work, your doctor can prescribe stronger medicine
to stop the migraine. Your doctor also may prescribe medicine to
You may not be able to use some
medicines if you are pregnant or have other health problems, such as heart
If the first
medicine doesn't work, ask your doctor if you
can try something else. It may take time to find what works best for