Perhaps it starts with a tiny blind spot. Then, it may expand to a larger visual disturbance with flashing or zig-zagging lights. If you suffer with migraine headaches, you probably know the rest of the story.
For many, a migraine makes you feel like all your senses are on steroids. Light and noise can be unbearable. When you move, you may feel as though your brain is sloshing around inside your skull. Some people find it difficult to speak, much less think, when they’re in the throes of a migraine. They may even feel disoriented afterwards.
What are migraines?
Migraine headaches are not your run-of-the-mill tension headache. Typically, they affect only one side of the head and are often described as throbbing or pounding and can come with nausea or vomiting. According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, untreated migraines can last from 4 hours to 3 days. The NIH notes that about 12 percent of the more than 300 million people in the United States suffer from migraines.
There are many things that may trigger a migraine:
- Too little or too much sleep
- Certain foods and food additives
- Hormone fluctuations around menstrual periods
- Exposure to light or allergens
- Some medications
Living in the areas where Banner Health treats patients, you also need to know dehydration and changes in the weather can trigger a migraine. Learn more about migraine triggers.
Migraine treatment options
If you experience chronic migraines, speak with your physician. He or she can prescribe medications to relieve your migraine. A relatively new device called a SphenoCath, may also be helpful for migraine sufferers who find medication gives no relief or comes with too many side effects.
The SphenoCath, explains Peter J Sunenshine, MD, chief of neurointerventional surgery at Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix, is a new device to allow a sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) block to be performed more effectively and less painfully.
The sphenopalatine ganglion is a collection of nerve cells located just under the tissue lining of the back of the nose. By applying a local anesthetic to the area, nerve impulses can be temporarily blocked, providing relief from various types of pain.
“SPG blocks have been around for many years, but were painful and invasive procedures,” Dr. Sunenshine explained. “The SphenoCath device now allows us to access the SPG through the nasal cavity with no sedation, no recovery, more accurately and with virtually no risk. Patients with acute or chronic migraines can usually get a same-day appointment and the procedure takes 15 minutes. The procedure has helped many people with headaches that were previously untreatable.”
If you have chronic migraines, please talk to your doctor. There is no need to suffer more than is necessary. Also, consider keeping a headache diary. You can note sleep patterns, menstrual cycle, light, sound, scents, stress levels, weather changes, new medications, foods and vision changes. This diary can help your physician more clearly understand and treat your particular migraine.
Also read: Little ones can get headaches, too