Chronic Migraine Treatment
If you experience frequent headaches for more than 15 days over a period of three months, you have chronic migraines.
What is Chronic Migraine?
The International Headache Society defines chronic migraine as the type of headache that occurs continuously for more than 15 days over a period of three months. Patients with chronic migraines are kept on regular medications and the overuse of medication use can cause the pain to reoccur. In this type of headache, the patient also suffers from at least five migraine attacks over a period of three months or less.
How to Tell if You Have Chronic Migraine?
To assess chronic migraine doctors usually pay attention to the number of days in a month a patient experiences headache. Headaches can range from minor to acute headaches over a continuous period of time. The best way to figure out if you have chronic migraine is by focusing on the frequency of headaches you have in one day.
Usually, patients with chronic migraine focus on severe headaches and report only their most acute headaches to the doctor. As a result, they give a false impression of their true nature of headaches and the doctor receives only half of the information. So, for proper chronic migraine treatment, it is vital to learn about the patterns of headaches and the exact number of days you experience headaches.
How are Patients with Suspected Chronic Migraine Diagnosed?
Patients suspected of having chronic migraine symptoms are usually assessed by doctors keeping in mind the headache type. The diagnosis excludes headache factors such as secondary headaches, headaches caused by tension, and headaches that persist on a day-to-day basis. Secondary headaches are caused due to an underlying medical condition. This means that all the sub-types of headaches mentioned-above will be excluded from the diagnosis process. This is to say that the doctor will look at the migraine causing symptoms and help you understand which type of migraine you have. This diagnosis process there afterward will lead to a proper treatment method.
What are the Causes of Chronic Migraine?
There is no definitive cause behind chronic migraine, but most patients suffering from chronic migraine talk about triggers that lead to severe headaches. The triggers vary anywhere from caffeine to bright light, specific types of food, hormones, and sleep deprivation.
However, for some patients the headaches are consistent and they steadily progress with time. Particularly for those who are long-time sufferers. The period from which the headache exceeds and leads to migraine attacks is termed as chronic headache. The threshold of pain can cross 15 days or more. And when left untreated can lead to unbearable headaches along with vomiting and nausea.
Do I have Migraine or Chronic Migraine?
It is vital to learn that not all headache types are migraines. Theoretically speaking migraines are divided into subcategories.
- Chronic Migraine
- Abdominal Migraine (Migraine type found in children)
- Migraine with aura (Patients will experience symptoms of a migraine without aura along with neurological symptoms)
- Migraine without aura (Lasts up to between 4 and 72 hours if left untreated)
- Menstrual Migraine (Migraine attack linked to the menstruation cycle)
- Hemiplegic Migraine (Leads to temporary weakness on one side of the body)
- Migraine with brainstem aura (A rare subtype of migraine)
- Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome (vomiting associated with migraine)
Each type of migraine will affect the patient’s body differently. To differentiate what type of migraine you have you need to carefully notice the symptoms. Usually, migraine is characterized by the type of headaches a patient experiences. The headaches occur frequently and can range from mild to moderate and severe headaches. Typically the headaches affect one portion of the brain and most migraines are pulsating in nature. The pain caused due to migraine eventually leads to additional symptoms listed below
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck, high fever with headache.
- Blurred vision
- Numbness or trouble speaking
- Mental confusion
- Headache which increases with head movement or coughing.
- Sensitivity to light, smell, and sound
- Shortness in Breath
- Severe nausea with vomiting
These are some of the commonly found symptoms in migraine patients. If such symptoms persist to get a medical diagnosis immediately. The best treatment for migraine is usually followed by a series of medications and head relaxation exercises. This means it is also vital to follow the treatment method so that it can help you ease the pain. In addition, most migraine patients talk about the migraine causing triggers. These triggers can lead to both severe and moderate headaches.
Migraine Headache Triggers
For most migraine patients there are specific triggers that cause the headache to increase. This sudden onset of migraines means a closed room, a cool towel, and endless pain for some patients. While for others it means nausea leading to vomiting. While these symptoms stop only after the effect ceases. But most patients are aware when a migraine attack is on its way and what type of trigger caused the pain to magnify.
At times, psychological problems like strain, shock, depression, anxiety or even excitement can cause migraines. Perhaps it is fair to say that stress is the biggest culprit that causes migraines. Almost 70 percent of migraines are triggered due to stress-causing situations. And one study revealed that 50-70 percent of the people associate migraine with the stress. Particularly stress that is related to day-to-day activities.
Our board of certified physicians suggests that any factor causing an undue amount of stress should be eliminated from life. For the same, you can make a list of factors that cause you stress. Work towards decreasing those stress-causing factors and reduce the possibilities for stress, depression, or anxiety to trigger a migraine attack.
Irregular Sleep Schedule
Sleep helps repair the cells in our body and refills the body with lost energy. So, there is no doubt about the fact that sleep deprivation is associated with migraines. Also, individuals with irregular sleep cycles are more prone to becoming migraine patients. Something else that migraine patients need to note regarding sleep patterns is that most migraine attacks occur between 4:00 am and 9:00 am.
Meaning that migraine attacks will lead to sleep deprivation and it puts patients at greater risk of developing sleeping disorders. To cope up with sleep disorders ensure that you go to bed early every night and aim at getting at least 7 hours of unhindered sleep. Also, try to eliminate factors that allow you to stay up late at night. This also means that you have to eliminate the use of phone, TV, music, and even late-night reading.
Women are most likely to get migraines than men. And according to experts, 75 percent of the women experience migraine attacks during the time of menstruation. Such migraines are called menstrual migraines and they occur when estrogen and progesterone levels change. To cope up with menstrual migraines one has to bring about changes in lifestyle, eating patterns, and in most cases, hormonal migraine treatments are required. So, make sure to meet our headache specialists if you have a hormonal migraine and we will give you the right plan as listed under hormonal migraine treatment.
There is a list of food items that cause migraines. These foods include histamine contained foods, chocolate, cheese, dairy products, artificial sugar, caffeine, cured meat, etc. All these food items can lead to hormonal imbalance and hence cause hormonal-related migraines. Migraine triggers such as food items can also lead to other health-related problems. So, changing the eating habits becomes mandatory.
Scientifically, if you have regular or acute migraine headaches and you take prescribed medications for the same, you can still experience migraine attacks. Particularly when you have been taking medications for a period of more than ten days in a month. This phenomenon is addressed by doctors as Medication Overuse Headache (MOH) and to deal with this type of migraine you have to first clear out medications from your system. This will help you stop the cycle of pain. Once the cycle of pain stops, you should consider talking to migraine specialists or our team of certified doctors.
Treatment Methods for Migraine
There are several treatment methods for migraine and our certified health physicians suggest two primary forms of treatment methods – Acute medications and preventive medications. Acute medications are prescribed in order to decrease the pain of an already existing migraine attack. Whereas, preventive medications are taken to decrease the day-to-day frequency of migraine headaches from progressing.
Our team of doctors suggest that acute medications are a part of an impending migraine attack. Patients who feel that an ongoing headache might convert into a migraine attack should immediately consume acute medications. These medicines will help them stop migraine headaches as early as possible and different classes of acute medications include:
- Analgesics (ibuprofen, acetaminophen)
- Triptans (seven different forms of triptans are available at medical stores including tablets, injections, and nasal sprays)
- Ergot Alkaloids (Prescribed to patients who do not respond to analgesics or triptans)
Acute medication should not be used more than ten days in 30 days because a patient can be at the risk of overuse of migraine medications. Consult our headache specialists if you feel you are overdosing on your migraine medications.
Preventive medications are prescribed only when patients experience more than four migraine attacks over a period of 30 days. These medications are taken orally if prescribed in the form of tablets on a regular basis and taken monthly if they are injected. Our doctors will prescribe three basic types of preventive medications.
- Antihypertensives (forms include calcium, beta-blockers, angiotensin receptor blockers, and channel blockers)
- Anticonvulsants (Topiramate is used mostly for migraine prevention)
- Antidepressants (Additional medicine types also used for migraine treatment)
- OnabotulinumtoxinA (FDA approved treatment medication for headaches that last for more than ten days)
- Erenumab (an injection administered to migraine patients once in 30 days)
Help us Create a Migraine Treatment Plan for You
Patients with any type of migraine condition should meet with our migraine specialists or our health care providers. Our health care provider will figure out a specific treatment plan for the concerned patient. Also, the individual treatment plan will depend on the frequency and severity of migraine headaches.
In addition to this, our doctors will also consider the patient’s medical history. And if a patient has more than four migraine attacks in a month, that specific patient will be treated with both preventive and acute forms of medications. Our doctors also believe that some medications cannot be prescribed if severe medical conditions persist. Such medical conditions include kidney and heart diseases. Also, information like [past allergies and any pregnancy plans should be conveyed to the doctor beforehand.
A patient’s treatment plan will only be created after a thorough analysis and the same will be tested for a period of two months. This will help our health specialists determine whether a plan is working or not.
Consult Our Health Specialist from the Comfort of Your Home
Numerous treatment plans exist for migraine patients. The best thing you can do is consult our specialists, work closely with the concerned doctor, and then follow the provided treatment plan religiously. Our team of certified physicians also advises you to tell them about the ongoing treatment plan (if you have any). This will help them analyze your medical condition more effectively. And they will help you learn what works for you better and what hasn’t worked so far.
So, connect with our doctors via a video call and discuss your symptoms in detail. However, don’t forget to fill a medical form first and provide personal details. Soon after completion of form our team will help you connect with a doctor over a video call. You can talk to the doctor and receive a medical prescription for the subtype of migraine headaches you have.