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Hi everyone,

I was diagnosed as suffering from Migraine with Aura when I was 11 years old, at which point I was getting a few every week. It's now 29 years later, and I still get them, though thankfully now only around one per month.

One thing that I find a lot of people get confused about is exactly what is a migraine? Is it just a really bad headache? Is it a long headache? Stabbing headache? Headache plus nausea?

The answer is, a Migraine is none of those things. A Migraine is not a headache at all.

A Migraine is the sudden dilation of the blood vessels in your brain, which causes low blood pressure, and makes your body commence functions designed to preserve itself - for example, the sphincter to your intestines can close up, stopping your stomach from processing anything, which in turn can cause nausea and vomiting. The throbbing veins in your head - particularly those near nerve rich places like your temples or eyes - cause intense pain. You can go numb in your extremities, or whole body for that matter as blood flow is concentrated around your core. Your brain's ability to function properly diminishes, and you may hear noises, may suffer aphasia (talking gibberish), not be able to understand people, become sensitive to light and sound.

Some people experience and "aura" before the Migraine hits - visual distortions such as fireworks, pinwheels, blind spots, tunnel vision - or even a combination. This warning tends to last 5 - 30 minutes before the full Migraine sets in, though only 5-10% of people who suffer Migraines also have the aura.

The duration of a migraine varies from person to person. It may be a couple of hours - it may be a couple of days. For me, you can set a clock - 6 hours from the end of the aura (assuming I go straight to bed and don't try to fight it). But that's not to say that after 6 hours I am up and fighting fit again - the older I have become, the longer I take to recover from a Migraine - sometimes for up to a week I will have nausea and an occasional stabbing headache, called the "post-derm".

Not everyone will vomit when they have a migraine, but many do. Some many times during the one attack. In my case these days, it's about a 50/50 chance whether I will or not, though when I was younger it was more 100/0 - I always had a bucket under my bed as a kid. Even my own saliva is too much for my stomach to handle during a Migraine - if my bucket doesn't receive vomit, it acts as a spittoon.

Doctors essentially have no idea what causes someone to have Migraines, but if you do get them, there's a good chance you will pass them on to your kids. Most people who experience Migraine first experience them during puberty, though for some they may appear more random. Following childbirth is another potential trigger period as hormones fluctuate in a woman's body. The majority of people with Migraine are woman, and most will stop getting them once they go through menopause. (I on the other hand, being male, can look forward to having them forever.)

Historically it was believed that certain foods may trigger a sufferer to have a Migraine, however these days the experts tend to believe it is not a particular food/s, but rather the need to both eat and sleep at regular times - routine helps to stave off Migraine.

(As noted in a post on here - if you get Migraine after exercise - try keeping your electrolytes up - drink sports drinks before/during/after sports.)

There are various drugs that may help to avoid Migraine. These have typically been discovered by co-incidence. They however are often very costly, and can have strong side effects. If you have severe Migraines however - you may as well try and see if you can find something that works for you.

Personally, over the years I have tried a range of different options... but currently have been finding relief from prochlorperazine - a medication prescribed for nausea, though originally used as an antipsychotic. I have on numerous occasions been able to take one 5mg tablet and sleep the Migraine off, rather than the normal 6 hours of agony.

Sadly whilst doctors long thought that Migraines did no lasting damage, at least one new report has found, particularly with Migraine with aura, that sufferers have increased likelihood of having lesions on their brains. It's not known exactly what this may mean.

Also, unfortunately people who suffer Migraine are more likely to fail to seek medical attention when suffering a stroke, as the two can have similar symptoms.

Ultimately, for most people, a dark room and a bucket is the only solid solution.
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replied November 2nd, 2017
You feel it coming on — that ever so slight pain in your head that tells you a migraine is about to happen. Thankfully, there are medications that can prevent it from progressing. But sometimes it hits like a freight train out of nowhere. BOOM! The worst pain you can ever imagine and then it’s too late… you can’t hold anything down, including your pain relief medication.

In the U.S., more than 37 million people suffer from migraines. And sometimes the only solution for relief from the pain and vomiting is going to the ER. If you have chronic migraines, pay attention to what triggers them, what helps soothe the pain, and ease your nausea. Here are some tips to better manage your migraines in the future
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replied December 20th, 2017
Experienced User
The pain of migraine and tension headache are similar and tend to be mild, moderate, or severe in nature. The pain for each type of headache may be located on one side of the head or on both sides of the head.

The differences between the pain of migraine and headache are that migraine pain has a throbbing quality, and many people report that even slight physical exertion (like walking up a flight of stairs) may worsen their pain.

In contrast, the pain associated with tension-type headaches tends to be more chronic and steady. Many people with tension headache describe a band-like tightness or pressure when asked about their pain.
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