Migraine: Rescue Instructions


Migraine: Rescue Instructions

Some people call the usual headache a migraine, but this is not true. Those who put such a diagnosis are often very scared. We offer rescue instructions that will help you figure out what to do.

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Expert: Kirill Vladimirovich Skorobogatykh
Candidate of Medical Sciences, Neurologist, Director of the “University Headache Clinic”

1. Make sure that it is a migraine.

Determine the nature of the pain

“Migraine headache is special: usually one-sided and throbbing, of medium or high intensity and aggravated by physical exertion. If an attack is accompanied by nausea, or vomiting, or increased sensitivity to light or sounds, it is a migraine, ”says Kirill Vladimirovich.

One episode can last 4–72 hours. Migraine attacks periodically recur and can gradually increase, if you do not engage incompetent treatment.

Migraine can be different - with and without aura

Sometimes before the onset of a headache, there are other manifestations of migraine. There may be a feeling of numbness in the face or limbs, visual impairment (flash, partial loss of vision, blurred vision) or hearing. In rare cases, hemiplegia (inability to control one half of the body) or aphasia (impaired ability to pronounce words) develops.

Precursors of an attack occur in a third of patients, and which symptoms will exactly depend on the particular person. Doctors call these short-term transient neurological disorders that occur before the headache phase, aura.

Manifestations of the aura can smoothly replace each other because its occurrence is a consequence of the passage of an electric wave through areas of the cerebral cortex and the sequential excitation of different neurons.

2. Understand and accept migraine
How does a migraine arise

Signals about all pain in the head area are transmitted through the trigeminal nerve, which provides sensation to the skin of the face. He also sends signals of otitis, sinus pain, or toothache. Signals are collected in the nucleus (accumulation of neurons) of the trigeminal nerve and are transmitted from it to the cortex.

In migraine, the nucleus of the trigeminal nerve is activated by itself and the feeling of pain arises without any typical effect. Disruption of sleep rhythm or fluctuation in the level of sex hormones in the menstrual cycle can affect this.

Why a migraine occurs in a particular person is not fully known; several complex theories are considered. Most likely, this is a hereditary multigene (that is, associated with changes in several genes) disease.


Women square measure 3 times a lot of seemingly to possess migraines than men. Obviously, this is due to female hormones, but a detailed mechanism of their influence has not yet been found. The drop in estrogen levels during the first days of the cycle is just one of the possible triggers of an attack.

Migraine is forever

It sounds threatening, but that is why it is especially important to start treatment in a timely manner: the longer a person is treated anyhow, the more often the attacks become. But there is good news. With age, migraine can go down: after 40 years, hormonal activity decreases and seizures become less frequent.

3. Learn to treat and prevent migraine attacks

How to treat migraine

There are two approaches: the relief of pain and the prevention of its occurrence.

“Our joint task: to make frequent migraine attacks rare and facilitate their flow. There is enough money in the arsenal of the neurologist to achieve this, ”the expert notes.

To relieve a painful episode, you need to take simple non-prescription drugs (for example, paracetamol, aspirin, ibuprofen) or special preparations for migraine, triptans, as early as possible.

At the first signs, try to distract from work and other loads and rest in a quiet darkened room.

As a prophylactic treatment, various drugs are selected individually, for example, antidepressants or antiepileptic drugs.

In addition to pills

It is very important to adjust the mode of the day. An adequate amount of sleep is necessary:   both a lack and an excess of sleep can provoke an attack. Adults aged 18–64 years old recommend sleeping 7–9 hours a day. Do not forget to eat or drink water in time: prolonged hunger or dehydration often provoke the development of an attack.

An important component is a regular exercise. There are no additional restrictions: choose your favorite sport.

Kirill Vladimirovich adds: “We are trying to identify the so-called triggers - the trigger mechanisms for an attack. For some, it is a glass of red wine, chocolate or cheese, for another - a bright light or a long sleep on a day off, someone can not bear the smell of cigarette smoke. If you suffer from migraines, try to track down the provoking factors and avoid them. ”


Migraine, especially with frequent attacks, is often combined with anxiety and depressive disorders. A useful addition to drug treatment will be sessions of cognitive-behavioural therapy or relaxation techniques.

Manual therapy, acupuncture, and other alternative approaches

“With regard to alternative medicine, it may well become an auxiliary link. A competent manual therapist relieves tension in the neck, acupuncture will allow many people to relax. But this only works in conjunction with traditional treatment, ”says the expert.

New treatment perspectives

There is a chance that new drugs will soon come into use for the prevention of migraine attacks. They contain molecules that block the work of the CGRP protein or its receptor. This protein affects the transmission of pain signals and vascular tone of the brain so that exposure to it should alleviate the condition and help control migraines.

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