A migraine is a primary headache disorder characterized by recurrent headaches that are moderate to severe. Typically, the headaches affect one half of the head, are pulsating in nature, and last from a few hours to 3 days. Associated symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, or smell. The pain is generally made worse by physical activity. Up to one-third of people affected have an aura: typically a short period of visual disturbance that signals that the headache will soon occur. Occasionally, an aura can occur with little or no headache following it.
Migraines, which often begin in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood, can progress through four stages: prodrome, aura, attack and post-drome. Not everyone who has migraines goes through all stages.
One or two days before a migraine, you might notice subtle changes that warn of an upcoming migraine, including:
- Mood changes, from depression to euphoria
- Food cravings
- Neck stiffness
- Increased thirst and urination
- Frequent yawning
For some people, aura might occur before or during migraines. Auras are reversible symptoms of the nervous system. They’re usually visual, but can also include other disturbances. Each symptom usually begins gradually, builds up over several minutes and lasts for 20 to 60 minutes.
Examples of migraine aura include:
- Visual phenomena, such as seeing various shapes, bright spots or flashes of light
- Vision loss
- Pins and needles sensations in an arm or leg
- Weakness or numbness in the face or one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking
- Hearing noises or music
- Uncontrollable jerking or other movements
A migraine usually lasts from four to 72 hours if untreated. How often migraines occur varies from person to person. Migraines might occur rarely or strike several times a month.
During a migraine, you might have:
- Pain usually on one side of your head, but often on both sides
- Pain that throbs or pulses
- Sensitivity to light, sound, and sometimes smell and touch
- Nausea and vomiting
After a migraine attack, you might feel drained, confused and washed out for up to a day. Some people report feeling elated. Sudden head movement might bring on the pain again briefly.
The cause of migraines is not yet known.
It is suspected that they result from abnormal activity in the brain. This can affect the way nerves communicate as well as the chemicals and blood vessels in the brain. Genetics may make someone more sensitive to the triggers that can cause migraines.
However, the following triggers are likely to set off migraines:
- Hormonal changes: Women may experience migraine symptoms during menstruation, due to changing hormone levels.
- Emotional triggers: Stress, depression, anxiety, excitement, and shock can trigger a migraine.
- Physical causes: Tiredness and insufficient sleep, shoulder or neck tension, poor posture, and physical overexertion have all been linked to migraines. Low blood sugar and jet lag can also act as triggers.
- Triggers in the diet: Alcohol and caffeine can contribute to triggering migraines. Some specific foods can also have this effect, including chocolate, cheese, citrus fruits, and foods containing the additive tyramine. Irregular mealtimes and dehydration have also been named as potential triggers.
- Medications: Some sleeping pills, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medications, and the combined contraceptive pill have all been named as possible triggers.
- Triggers in the environment: Flickering screens, strong smells, second-hand smoke, and loud noises can set off a migraine. Stuffy rooms, temperature changes, and bright lights are also possible triggers.
Treatment for Migraine
This relieves headaches with the feeling of head fullness, and sensitivity to noise and light.
This remedy can be helpful if a person has a heavy or “splitting” headache, with steady pain that settles over one eye (especially the left) or spreads to the entire head. Pain is worse from any motion, even from moving the eyes, and the person wants to lie completely still and not be talked to or disturbed. Nausea with a heavy feeling in the stomach and vomiting may occur. The person can have a very dry mouth and usually is thirsty.
This remedy relieves congestive headaches at the base of the head, as well as headaches around the eye, caused or aggravated by stress.
This remedy relieves sudden headaches, with fullness of head and feeling of heat, and aggravated by heat.
This remedy is helpful for migraines in sensitive people, especially headaches after emotional upsets or caused by grief. The headache is often focused on one side of the head, and may feel as if a nail is driven in. Twitching in the face or spasms in the muscles of the neck and back frequently occur. The person often sighs or yawns and may sometimes weep or seem “hysterical.”
Intense migraines with blurry vision and pain that extends to the face and teeth, along with vomiting and a burning feeling in the throat and stomach, can often be relieved with this remedy. The person feels worse from resting and better from motion.
Migraines (often on the right) that are worse from grief or emotional upsets, worse from too much sun, or occur just before or after the menstrual period, are likely to respond to this remedy. The headache feels like “a thousand little hammers were knocking on the brain” and is often worse from eyestrain. The person may have numb or tingling feelings in the lips or face before the headache starts, and the eyes are very sensitive to light. The person often feels better lying in the dark and after sleeping.
This remedy relieves nausea and digestive troubles associated with overindulgence in food or alcohol.
Right-sided migraines with tension in the neck and shoulder, extending to the forehead with a bursting feeling in the eye, are often relieved with this remedy. Jarring, light, and noise aggravate discomfort. The headaches improve after vomiting, as well as from burping or passing gas, and are often better after sleep. A person who needs this remedy often comes down with migraines after missing meals, and also has digestive problems and allergies.
Left-sided migraines with dizziness and nausea, worse from missing meals, and worse near menstrual periods or during menopause, often responds to this remedy. Pain may come in shocks or jerks, and the person feels worse indoors and from lying on the painful side. A person needing Sepia feels weary, cold, and irritable, wanting no one to make demands on them.
Silicea (also called Silica)
Migraines that come on after mental exertion or near the menstrual period may indicate a need for this remedy—especially in a nervous person who is very chilly. Headaches are usually right-sided, starting in the back of the head and extending to the forehead, and are worse from drafts or from going out in the cold without a hat. The person may feel better from lying down in a dark, warm room and also from covering the head.
This remedy is often indicated for migraines with throbbing pains (“as if the top of the head would fly open”) or shooting pains in the eyes. Headaches are often associated with the menstrual period or come on after long-term study or worrying. The muscles of the neck are usually involved in the headache, feeling very stiff and painful. The person (normally talkative and energetic) feels mentally dull and gloomy, or even fearful, during a migraine. Pain is worse from motion and sometimes improved by eating.
This remedy relieves headaches and sleeplessness with agitation and overactive thoughts.
Migraines that start with flickering in the eyes, dim vision, or dizziness suggest a need for this remedy. Pain is often right-sided and may involve the ear—which can also ache or itch. The person feels very weak and sick (the nausea is often worse from fatty food) and is thirsty, very sensitive to cold, and worse from open air. People who need this remedy are sympathetic and emotional; they often have an anxious or remorseful feeling that they may have neglected some responsibility.
This remedy relieves symptoms from intellectual overwork.
Left-sided migraines with congested, pulsing pain that is worse from pressure or tight clothing may respond to this remedy. The person’s face looks deeply flushed or blotchy. Headaches are often worst before the menstrual period and better once the flow begins. The person feels worse from sleeping (either in the daytime or at night) and is usually worse from heat.
This relieves headaches caused by delaying meals, with desire for hot food and candy.
Excruciating headaches on the left side of the head, with violent throbbing, or stitching pains above or through the eyeball, may respond to this remedy. Pain may extend through the face and is worse from motion, touch, position changes, and jarring. The person may feel better from lying on the right side with the head supported, and keeping still.
Consult Homeopathic Doctor
Sometimes the symptoms of a migraine headache can mimic those of a stroke. It’s important to seek immediate medical attention if you or a loved one has a headache that:
- causes slurred speech or drooping on one side of the face
- causes new leg or arm weakness
- comes on very suddenly and severely with no lead-in symptoms or warning
- occurs with a fever, neck stiffness, confusion, seizure, double vision, weakness, numbness, or difficulty speaking
- has an aura where the symptoms last longer than an hour
- would be called the worst headache ever
- is accompanied by loss of consciousness
Make an appointment to see your doctor if your headaches start to affect your daily life. Tell them if you experience pain around your eyes or ears, or if you have multiple headaches a month that last for several hours or days.
Migraine headaches can be severe, debilitating, and uncomfortable. Many treatment options are available, so be patient finding the one or combination that’s best for you. Keep track of your headaches and symptoms in order to identify migraine triggers. Knowing how to prevent migraines can often be the first step in managing them.