Headache & Migraine

They can be exhausting, but at INTEGRIS, we get it – and we’re with you. There’s a lot we can work on together to get your migraines under control and sometimes even ward off migraines altogether.

Migraines vs. Headaches

The defining feature that separates migraines from other types of headaches is that symptoms other than pain occur with it. You might experience nausea and vomiting, lightheadedness, sensitivity to light or other visual disturbances. Migraines are also unique in that they have distinct phases. That can last up to 72 hours.

Migraine Phases

The phases of a migraine headache may include a change in mood or behavior that may occur hours or days before the headache. This is called the premonition phase. Some people also notice a strange aura or visual, sensory or motor symptoms that occur just before the headache. This includes hallucinations, numbness, changes in speech, visual changes, and muscle weakness. This is known as the aura phase, and transitions into the actual migraine, which is characterized by sensitivity to light, motion and sound, a severe throbbing headache as well as depression, fatigue and anxiety.

The whole ordeal can be exhausting, but at INTEGRIS, we get it – and we're with you. There's a lot we can work on together to get your migraines under control, alleviate the symptoms and sometimes even ward off migraines altogether.

Understanding Headaches and Migraines

To get an accurate diagnosis, it is important to describe your migraine symptoms to your doctor. It's also helpful to track when migraines occur (such as dates and times) and the details associated with migraine headaches. These are the most common symptoms of migraine headaches:

Before

  • A change in mood or behavior that may occur hours or days before the headache
  • Some migraines are preceded by an aura, which may be experienced as a flashing light or other visual changes.

During

  • Throbbing, severe headache pain with a specific location either on one side or another.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Visual disturbances including lack of sight.
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety

As the Migraine Resolves

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating

Migraine headaches are diagnosed based on your symptoms and a physical exam. You may need other tests or procedures to rule out underlying diseases or conditions.

Tracking and sharing information about your headache with your doctor helps with the process of making an accurate diagnosis. Consider writing down the following information to take to your medical appointment:

  • Time of day when your headaches occur
  • Specific location of your headaches
  • How your headaches feel
  • How long your headaches last
  • Any changes in behavior or personality
  • Effect of changes in position or activities on the headache
  • Effect of headaches on sleep patterns
  • Information about stress in your life
  • Information about any head trauma, either recently or in the past

Diagnostic tests that may be used include the following:

  • Lab Tests: These include blood and urine studies and thyroid functioning tests.
  • Sinus X-Rays: An X-Ray to evaluate for congestion or other problems related to the headaches.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This procedure uses large magnets, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within your body.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses X-rays and computer technology to make horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body or head. CT scans show more detail than standard X-rays.
  • Spinal Tap (also called Lumbar Puncture): Your doctor places a special needle into the lower back, into the area around the spinal cord. There he or she can measure the pressure in the spinal canal and brain. Your doctor will remove a small amount of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) and test it for an infection or other problems.

Specific treatment for migraine headaches will be determined based on your age, overall health and medical history as well as type, severity and frequency of your migraines, your tolerance for medications and your personal preferences. Treatments may include:

  • Abortive Medicines: Medicines, prescribed by your doctor, that act on specific receptors in both the brain and the blood vessels in the head, stopping a headache once it is in progress.
  • Rescue Medicines: Medicines purchased over-the-counter, such as pain relievers, to diminish or stop the headache.
  • Preventive (Prophylactic) Medicines: Medicines prescribed by your doctor that are taken daily to suppress the onset of severe migraine headaches.
  • Avoiding Known Triggers: These might include certain foods and beverages, lack of sleep and fasting.
  • Injections: including Botox, nerve blocks and trigger point injections.
  • Plus ...
    • Diet Changes
    • Exercise
    • Herbal Remedies
    • Stress Management
    • Biofeedback
    • Psychiatry
    • Mindfulness Meditation
    • Sleep Medicine Evaluation
    • Physical and Occupational Therapy
    • Individual and Group Therapy

When a Migraine Strikes:

  • Use a Cold Compress: Wrap a thin cloth around a cold pack, a cold can of soda, or a bag of frozen vegetables. Apply this to your temple or other pain site.
  • Drink Fluids: If nausea makes it hard to drink, try sucking on ice.
  • Rest: If possible, lie down. Try not to bend over, as this may increase your pain. Sometimes laying in a quiet, dark room can help the migraine from being aggravated.
  • Try Caffeine: Some people find that drinking fluids with caffeine, such as coffee or tea, helps to lessen migraine pain.

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