Migraines are a common health condition, affecting around one in every five
women and around one in every 15 men. They usually begin in early adulthood and are often debilitating. Symptoms can include:
- Pulsing on one side of the head
- Sensitivity to light and sound
Some people experience an aura, a warning symptom that occurs before a headache. This includes flashes of light, blind spots, or difficulty speaking.
“In 2016 migraines were the second leading cause of disability worldwide,” said family nurse practitioner, Michael Schiman, FNP. “They’re very serious and can make you adjust your entire schedule from how debilitating they can be.”
What is the difference between chronic and episodic migraines?
Chronic migraines are headaches that occur 15 days per month for at least three months and last four or more hours. Episodic migraines are headaches that occur between four and 14 days a month. Both are treated the same, with some additional treatment options for chronic migraines.
What is the difference between tension and cluster headaches?
Tension headaches are the most common type experienced by adults. They are triggered from stress, lack of sleep, or poor posture. Compared to migraines, they are not as severe. Symptoms may include a band-like pain around the head with no nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light and sound.
Cluster headaches are the least common, affect men more than women, and occur in ages 40 and older. They can occur every day, up to eight times a day. The pain is severe and one-sided—typically around the eye or temporal region—and are accompanied by the following autonomic symptoms:
- Redness and/or tearing from the eye
- Nasal congestion/drainage
- Eyelid puffiness
- Forehead/facial sweating
- Constriction of pupil or drooping eye
How can I treat migraine pain?
Migraines can be treated with or without medication. Ultimately the treatment depends on the person and pain level. Some non-medication options are:
- Reducing stress
- Cold/hot compress
- Good sleep routines
- Routine meals
- Avoiding triggers (tobacco, chocolate, and caffeine)
When these options don’t alleviate the pain, medication may be required. Over the counter pain relievers such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen are the most common. It’s important to avoid medication over-use as this can lead to medication rebound and can actually cause headaches to return.
How can I prevent migraines from occurring?
Your provider may prescribe you one of the following medications to help prevent migraines:
- Antihypertensives–treatment for blood pressure
- Anticonvulsants–treatment for seizures
- Antidepressants–treatment for depression
If you are experiencing chronic migraines, Botox® injections may be an option for treatment. The goal of Botox injections is to reduce or eliminate headache frequency, duration, and pain. Injections work by weakening or paralyzing muscles. When these compression points are released, the severity of migraine pain may decrease and some patients may no longer experience migraines.
“Patients experiencing 15 or more headaches a month are the ideal candidate for Botox treatment,” said Michael. “Injections are given every 12 weeks in the office and side effects are minimal.”
Interested in learning more about migraines? View the video below as Michael Schiman, FNP discusses common signs of chronic migraines and cluster headaches and how they can be managed with preventative treatment options, including Botox® injections.