The World Health Organisation stated that most migraines often begin at puberty and usually affect individuals between the ages of 35 and 45.
From a very tender age, Chinelo remembers her mother, Stella, having headaches that usually confined her to bed. It usually made her to throw up and stay in bed sick for days.
By the time Chinelo turned 35, she began experiencing blurry vision, sensitivity to light and pain behind the eyes. She also experienced the same type of sickening headaches suffered by her mother.
Relief only came for her after she had thrown up, while the headache could still linger for some hours after taking medication. It took Chinelo quite a while to realise that what she and her mother suffered for years was migraine.
Migraine, a severe type of headache, has been noted to be among the most common disorders of the human nervous system worldwide. In the Global Burden of Disease Study, updated in 2013, migraine on its own was found to be the sixth highest cause of worldwide years lost to disability (YLD).
According to a medical expert, Izuchukwu Amadi, migraine imposes a recognisable burden on sufferers, including substantial personal suffering, impaired quality of life and financial cost.
“Repeated migraine attacks, and often the constant fear of the next one can damage family life, social life and employment. The long-term effort of coping with chronic headache disorder may also predispose the individual to other illnesses,” he said.
According to WebMD, an online medical platform, a migraine can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on just one side of the head. It is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. It usually lasts between four to 72 hours, if left untreated, and the frequency with which it occurs varies from individuals.
“Migraine attacks can cause significant pain for hours or days and can be so severe that the pain is disabling. Warning symptoms known as aura may occur before or with the headache. These can include flashes of light, blind spots, or tingling on one side of the face, arm or leg,” the site stated.
The World Health Organisation stated that most migraines often begin at puberty and usually affect individuals between the ages of 35 and 45. It further said the condition was more common in women due to hormonal influence and is caused by the activation of a mechanism deep in the brain that leads to release of pain-producing inflammatory substances around the nerves and blood vessels of the head.
According to Dandy Mike, a medical practitioner, medical research has indicated that migraine could be triggered by both environmental and genetic factors.
He further said that, relatively, it can begin in childhood with boys more likely to experience migraine than girls. In adults, women are most likely to experience migraine than men, especially when approaching menopause.
“Till date, researchers are yet to come up with a definite cause of migraine, as no patient has been diagnosed with a particular cause of migraine. It could also vary from person to person. There has to be a full diagnosis by a doctor to actually tell if a headache is migraine or any other type of headache.
“Researchers believe that migraine occurs when there is an abnormal change in the brain. And when these changes occur, inflammation causes blood vessels to swell and press on nerves, which can then result in pain.
There are different types of migraine. The most common types of migraine fall into two categories: migraine with aura and migraine without aura.”
Factors discovered to trigger migraine include sleep disturbances, stress, weather changes, low blood sugar, dehydration, bright light, noise, hormonal changes, food containing aspartame, missed meals, odours, perfume, caffeine and alcohol.
Similarly, signs and symptoms of migraine may include food cravings, depression, fatigue, frequent yawning, hyperactivity, irritability and neck stiffness.
According to a research carried out by Women’s Health Research, migraine has no cure, but can
be managed effectively with the help of a health care provider and administration of the right drugs.
It was, however, noted that, to manage and prevent migraine, factors like age, frequency of occurrence, type of migraine or its severity must be taken into cognizance.
According to Dr. Brian Grosberg, an assistant professor of neurology and director of in-patient headache programme at Montefiore Headache Centre, Bronx, New York, drinking lots of water and eating food rich in fish oil can also help reduce inflammation that causes migraine. He also emphasised that rubbing peppermint oil on the head, taking ginger capsules and vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) could prevent migraine.
Above all, some lifestyle changes and coping strategies have been noted to help reduce the number and severity of migraines. Among them is creating a consistent daily schedule that centres around regular sleep patterns and meals.
Regular exercise has been noted to also reduce tension and can, in essence, help prevent migraine. A person that suffers migraine can choose any aerobic exercise, like walking, swimming and cycling.
It is, however, advised that, before embarking on any exercise, there is need to warm up slowly, as sudden, intense exercise can trigger a headache. Regular exercise can also help in either weight loss or to maintain a healthy body weight, as obesity is also thought to be a factor in migraines.
For women whose migraine is triggered by estrogen, experts insist that it is imperative to reduce medications that contain estrogen, including birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy, among others.