migraine information

Health condition

A typical migraine attack produces some or all of these signs and symptoms:

· Moderate to severe pain — 60 percent of migraine sufferers feel pain on only one side of their head, while 40 percent experience pain on both sides
· Head pain with a pulsating or throbbing quality
· Pain that worsens with physical activity
· Pain that hinders your regular daily activities
· Nausea with or without vomiting
· Sensitivity to light and sound

When left untreated, migraines typically last from four to 72 hours. The frequency with which they occur can vary from person to person. You may have migraine headaches several times a month or just once or twice a year.

Not all migraines are the same. Eighty-five percent of people suffer from migraines without auras, which were previously called common migraines. If you have migraine headaches with auras, previously called classic migraines, you will likely have auras about 15 to 30 minutes before your headache begins. They may continue after your headache starts or even occur after your headache begins. These may include:

· Sparkling flashes of light
· Dazzling zigzag lines in your field of vision
· Slowly spreading blind spots in your vision
· Tingling, pins-and-needles sensations in one arm or leg
· Rarely, weakness or language and speech problems

Whether or not you have auras, you may have one or more symptoms of premonition (prodrome) several hours or days before your headache actually strikes, including:

· Feelings of elation or intense energy
· Cravings for sweets
· Thirst
· Drowsiness
· Irritability or depression

Migraine and children

Migraines usually begin in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood and may become less frequent and intense as you grow older. Children as young as age 1 can have these headaches. In addition to physical suffering, severe headaches often mean missed school days and trips to the emergency room, as well as lost work time for anxious parents.

Children's migraines tend to last for a shorter time — about one to three hours. But the pain can be disabling and can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness and increased sensitivity to light. Migraine tends to occur on both sides of the head in children, and visual auras are rare. However, children often have premonition signs and symptoms, such as:

· Yawning
· Sleepiness or listlessness
· A craving for foods such as chocolate, hot dogs, sugary snacks, yogurt and bananas

Children may also have all of the signs and symptoms of migraine — nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and sound — but no head pain. These "abdominal migraines" can be especially difficult to diagnose.

The good news is that some of the same medications that are effective for adults also work for children. Your child doesn't have to suffer the pain and disruption of migraines. If your child has headaches, talk to your pediatrician. He or she may want to refer your child to a pediatric neurologist.

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