Migraines are painful and annoying but chronic migraines can be extremely hard to live with. If you're unsure if you have chronic migraines, knowing the symptoms and getting diagnosed are the first steps in finding relief for your pain. Read below to learn if your migraines are considered mild or chronic, and when to seek help.
Dealing with constant headaches that occur suddenly without warning can be hard to live with. If you’ve yet to receive treatment for these headaches, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of chronic migraines. Mild migraine symptoms can be alleviated with over-the-counter drugs, while severe migraines may require immediate medical attention. Getting the proper treatment can help improve your quality of life if you experience chronic migraines.
Continue reading to learn more about chronic migraines and when to seek help.
What are chronic migraines?
Migraines are a severe type of headache that can often be brought on by different triggers. Migraine triggers can differ for everyone who experiences migraines. These triggers may include sleep schedule changes, stress, weather changes, diet, light exposure, medications and hormones. Knowing your specific migraine triggers can allow you to manage your condition better and prevent future migraine attacks.
Symptoms of chronic migraines
Migraines usually come on in phases. For this reason, many people who experience migraines can often identify early warning signs and brace for a migraine attack. Understanding the stages of migraine headaches may help you manage your symptoms and determine whether you should see a doctor.
The prodrome phase signifies the start of a migraine attack. Also known as the “pre-headache” or premonitory phase, the prodrome phase can last for several hours to days. This phase doesn’t occur for everyone with migraine headaches, and for people who experience the prodrome phase with migraines, symptoms can vary. Some people may feel more fatigued than usual or have trouble sleeping during the prodrome phase.
About 30% of people with migraines experience an aura or sensory and visual disturbances. Aura can include flashing lights, blind spots in one or both eyes, and blurred or loss of vision for certain periods. Aura might not occur with every migraine attack. However, if you experience aura, symptoms can last up to an hour. Aura may also be a symptom during the prodrome phase and signify the start of a migraine attack.
The headache or attack phase of migraines can last several hours to a few days. This phase is accompanied by pain and discomfort on one or both sides of the head. During the attack phase, you might experience anxiety, sensitivity to smell, and trouble sleeping. Like other phases of migraine attacks, this phase can vary by individual.
A migraine attack usually ends with a postdrome phase. However, not everyone may experience postdrome after a migraine. Symptoms of the postdrome phase may include dizziness, trouble focusing, and muscle or body aches.
When to seek help from a healthcare provider
An occasional headache is not usually a cause for concern. Headaches can vary in severity and are often accompanied by pain in the head, face, or neck. Migraines are a diagnosed headache disorder that causes pain and discomfort that are more severe than regular headaches.
If you’ve never been diagnosed with migraines, you may want to see a healthcare provider if you experience symptoms of migraines. You should also see a healthcare provider if you experience any of the following with a severe headache that comes on suddenly:
- Blurred vision
- Stiff neck
- Shortness of breath
- Intense nausea and vomiting
If you experience a headache after an injury or accident involving the head, you should seek medical attention. Headaches that are triggered by physical events or that come on suddenly with severe symptoms should be checked by a healthcare provider.
You may already experience migraines regularly. However, if your migraine headaches start to worsen or affect your daily life, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor. You may need a complete evaluation and treatment with medication.
Inside Rx is here to help
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