A migraine is a medical condition that affects about 29.5 million Americans, and about three of four people who suffer from migraines are women. Migraine is one of the most common types of throbbing and disabling headaches, and statistics show that a huge proportion of women suffer from this ailment.
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Migraines are most common in women aged 20-45, an age window where they have more familial, societal, and professional responsibilities. Migraines in women typically tend to be longer and more painful migraine episodes, including severe symptoms like nausea and vomiting. This makes it considerably hard for women to fulfill their life responsibilities.
This writing delves into the female symptoms of migraine and imparts a plethora of other information that you need to have to know more about this headache. Let’s get started!
What is a Migraine?
A migraine is a considerably strong headache that is accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light, extreme headache, and vomiting. This condition can last for days to hours, depending upon an individual.
What are the Symptoms of a Migraine?
The symptoms of a migraine can vary from person to person. They may happen in stages for some individuals, including the following:
A large majority of people experience prodrome symptoms a few hours or days before a headache. These symptoms may include the following:
- Lack of appetite
- Sensitivity to sound, light, or smell
- Food cravings
- Mood changes
- Severe thirst
- Diarrhea or constipation
What are the Risk Factors for Migraine?
An estimation by the American Migraine Foundation shows that about 38 million Americans suffer from migraines. There are, however, certain risk factors that make a person more likely to get them, such as the following:
Sex is one of the biggest risk factors for migraine. Women suffer from migraines about three times more than men, making this ailment quite a woman-centric headache.
Most individuals start having migraine attacks between the age of 10 to 40, and many women experience an improvement in their migraines after the age of 50.
More than four out of five people who suffer from migraine have a family history of this ailment. A child of a parent who has such types of headaches has a 50% chance of getting them. This risk elevates to 75% if both the parents have them.
Other medical conditions
Anxiety, bipolar disorders, depression, sleep disorder, and epilepsy are some disorders that can increase the risk factors.
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Are Migraines Related to Menstrual Cycles in Women?
About half of the migraines in women occur before, during, or after their period. This is usually known as the “menstrual migraine.” However, a small number of women who have menstrual migraine have migraines only at the time of their period, as most of them suffer from these throbbing headaches at other times in the month as well.
Research is still underway to uncover the relationship between the menstrual cycle and migraine. However, we do know that the level of female hormones estrogen and progesterone dwindle down rapidly before the cycle begins, which may trigger a migraine. This is primarily because estrogen regulates chemicals in the brain that affect pain sensation in women.
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Do birth control pills make migraines worse?
Birth control pills may improve migraines in some women, making their frequency and severity of attacks considerably lower. However, other women may suffer an increase in their migraine attacks because of birth control pills. In other women, there might be no effect of contraceptives on migraines.
What are Migraine Triggers?
Migraine triggers are factors that trigger migraines and are a lot in number. Some common migraine triggers may include the following:
Hormonal changes in women
One of the most significant migraine triggers is a hormonal change in women. Fluctuations in the production of estrogen, such as before, after, or during menstrual periods, menopause, and pregnancy, trigger throbbing headaches in women. Similarly, hormonal medications such as oral contraceptives can also worsen migraines. In contrast, some women may experience a decrease in their migraines when on these medications.
Treatment of Migraine
Migraine headaches do not have a particular treatment, but several drugs can help treat or prevent them. Some common migraine treatments are as follows:
Over-the-counter drugs for pain relief work considerably well in treating migraines. The primary ingredients in these drugs are aspirin, acetaminophen, caffeine, and ibuprofen. It is important not to give aspirin to anyone below the age of 19, as it can increase the risk of Reye’s syndrome.
In some cases, over-the-counter medications can also add to a headache, so it is crucial to be careful when taking them. Individuals who are too dependent on them may get rebound headaches if they use them too much. You can also consult a medical professional regarding your condition, as they may suggest some prescription medications that can work well to eliminate your migraine pain.
Individuals who suffer from bouts of nausea during a migraine episode can take prescribed nausea medication to deal with it.
Triptans are drugs that balance the chemicals in the human brain and may include a swallowable pill, a nasal spray, tablets that dissolve on your tongue, or a shot. Some common examples of these drugs include the following:
- Almotriptan (Axert)
- Sumatriptan (Imitrex)
- Eletriptan (Relpax)
- Rizatriptan (Maxalt)
- Zolmitriptan (Zomig)
- Ergotamine (Cafergot, Ergomar, Migergot
- Lasmiditan (Reyvow)
CGRP receptor antagonists
A medical professional may prescribe Rimegepant (Nurtec) or ubrogepant (Ubrelvy) if other medications and treatments do not work.
For people who do not respond to other treatments and experience severe headaches or have about three to four migraines a month, a medical professional may suggest some prescription medications. These medications can make your migraines less hurtful, severe, or frequent.
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Preventive medications include blood pressure medications (like beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers), seizure medications, shots of botulinum toxin type A, and some antidepressants. Some CGRP antagonists like erenumab (Aimovig), galcanezumab (Emgality), eptinezumab (Vyepti), and fremanezumab (Ajovy) can also prevent migraines.
Single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
This device is placed at the back of an individual’s head at the start of a migraine with aura and sends magnetic energy pulses to the brain in an effort to reduce or stop the pain.
Some devices can affect the functioning of the trigeminal nerve and vagus nerve to relieve or prevent migraines.
Home Remedies to Treat Migraines
There are some widely used home remedies that can help reduce the effects of migraines and bring about some ease. These consistently tried and tested home remedies include the following:
- Drinking plenty of water and liquids.
- Using an ice pack or cool compress on your forehead.
- Resting in a dark, quiet, and preferably cool room with your eyes closed.
- Catching up on some sleep.
American board certified neurologists and subspecialist trained professionals at NeuroX offer high quality and highly affordable neurological and psychological care for all major diseases of the brain, including migraine, headache, stroke, epilepsy, etc. Head over to NeuroX to book your appointment right now and speak to a medical professional within 24-48 hours of booking!