Migraine is the second most common cause of headache, affecting about 15 per cent of women and six per cent of men.

Today, out of every seven people, one is affected with chronic migraine condition. This is not the simple headache which we all experience in our day to day life. Migraine is a headache disorder, considered to be one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Despite its pervasive impact, migraine continues to be vastly unrecognised, under-diagnosed and under-treated.

Today is World Brain Day which is observed every year on July 22. Medlarge has brought this to help understand the migraine.

Migraine is the second most common cause of headache, affecting about 15 per cent of women and six per cent of men. The brain of the migraineur is particularly sensitive to environmental and sensory stimuli. Around 20-25 per cent patients may have an aura before the onset of headache. Aura may be in the form of visual disturbances with flashes of light or zigzag lines or other neurologic symptoms.

Difference between migraine and normal headache

In migraine, headache is usually episodic. It starts with half of the head, throbbing type of headache and is associated with nausea and vomiting. Whereas common headache is generally because of stress and it affects both sides of the head and it is usually dull, stretching type of headache. This is not associated with nausea/vomiting/photophobic/sensitive to light and sound.

Adolescent girls who attain early puberty may also have a greater chance of developing migraine headaches, suggest a research. About 10 per cent of school-age children suffer from migraine, according to the study presented at the American Headache Society. As adolescence approaches, the incidence of migraine increases rapidly in girls, and by age 17, about 8 per cent of boys and 23 per cent of girls have experienced migraine.

The girls ranged in age from 8 to 20 and the study took place over a 10-year period beginning in 2004. Girls enrolled in the study at age 8-10 were examined during study visit every six to 12 months. Researchers determined when they showed initial signs of thelarche (breast development), pubarche (pubic hair growth) and menarche (start of menstrual periods).

In some of the patients, migraine is activated by specific triggers whereas, in common headache, there’s no such trigger. Migraine needs specific treatment and management whereas common headache may be managed by lifestyle modifications and some painkillers.

Hormonal changes in women – Fluctuations in estrogen, such as before or during menstrual periods, pregnancy and menopause, seem to trigger headaches in many women.

Hormonal medications – such as oral contraceptives.

Drinks – alcohol, especially wine, and too much of coffee.

Stress – at work or home can cause migraines.

Sensory stimuli – Bright lights and sun glare, loud sounds. Strong smells – perfume, paint thinner.

Sleep changes – Lack of sleep, jet lag can trigger migraines in some people.

Physical factors – Intense physical exertion, might provoke migraines.