Everyone gets a headache occasionally, but a migraine is much worse – even with warning signs. Millions of people get migraines each year, but with a bit of effort can learn to manage symptoms and lessen the pain.

What’s a Migraine?

A migraine is a headache that may lead to a severe pulsing sensation or throbbing pain, typically affecting one side of your head. It’s often paired with nausea, vomiting, and intense sensitivity to sound and light. If you’ve had a migraine in the past, you’ll know you can expect it to last from a few hours to days, and the pain can be near debilitating, significantly interfering with your daily life.

But there are warning signs. One of them is called an aura, and it can affect you before or appear with the headache itself.

What Causes a Migraine?

The migraine is similar to other conditions; its origins are shrouded in mystery, but decades of research have begun to unlock clues of what may cause it. Headaches are triggered when certain nerves in your blood vessels transmit pain signals to your brain. This dispenses inflammatory compounds into your head’s blood vessels and nerves, but it’s not exactly known why that happens.

What Are The Symptoms?

Migraine headaches with aura symptoms are different for everyone, varying in frequency, intensity, and duration, but may include any one or more of the following:

  • You have trouble concentrating.
  • You’re irritable or depressed.
  • You may be noticeably weaker on one side of your body.
  • Your speech noticeably changes.
  • Stiffness or neck pain.
  • You may be depressed, giddy, or anxious.
  • Your nasal passages are congested.
  • You may have trouble sleeping.
  • Tiredness.
  • Euphoric mood.

Many of these symptoms can be managed, including with medicine like ketamine.

Manage Your Migraine with These Simple Steps

Anyone who’s experienced a migraine will tell you the pain is just as real as if they were physically injured. But the good news is that headache symptoms can often be managed without medicine or other treatment. Try some of these ideas:

  • Isolate in a calm environment. This means someplace where it’s dark, quiet, with a comfortable temperature, and you can just relax, perhaps taking a pain reliever and enjoying lesser amounts of caffeine.
  • Get the required amount of sleep for your age group, uninterrupted over 24 hours. This may require setting a sleep schedule, learning to unwind before going to bed, and minimizing distractions as much as possible.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Manage your stress levels.
  • Keep a migraine diary with helpful information to assist your healthcare provider in arriving at a diagnosis and making treatment recommendations.

Aura and Other Migraine Stages

If you have a classic migraine, your healthcare provider may refer to it as a migraine with aura. It’s not a pleasant experience and is a repeated headache that hits you after or in tandem with sensory disturbances known as aura. If yours fits that description, you can attest to experiencing common occurrences like flashing light, blind spots, tingling in hand or face, or other vision-related problems. Aura refers to one of the four stages that someone with a migraine goes through. If you have a migraine headache aura, the symptoms could last for an hour and affect your ability to speak clearly. This type of headache gives a warning sign – an aura – that a severe headache attack is imminent and, if possible, you should prepare for it.

According to StatPearls, a U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information publication, about 12% of the U.S. population has migraine headaches, and nearly one-third have a migraine with aura.

People with migraine can experience other stages, too. You can have a combination of the four in total, including aura. They include:

  • Prodrome. In this case, you may notice minor changes warning you of a potential headache one or two days before it happens.
  • The actual attack may last for four to 72 hours. The pain can be throbbing and on either side of your face or head.
  • Post-drome, following the attack and leaving you physically exhausted and even confused.

If self-help, dietary, or lifestyle changes don’t solve your migraine problem and the pain begins interfering with your quality of life, it may be time to see your healthcare provider. By giving as much information as available about your symptoms, your clinician can recommend possible treatment, including ketamine infusion therapy.

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