I’ve written about migraines and headaches before. They are merciless. Migraines don’t discriminate against anyone: you can be black or white or hispanic or Asian or Middle Eastern, male or female, and whatever religion you want to be. When they hit someone head-on (no pun intended), they come at you with all sorts of side effects. And these side effects are not merely in your head (no pun intended again). These are real symptoms that affect many in our society. Some people grow out of migraines while others worsen with age. In my case, they are worsening with age. Migraines also often progress through four stages: prodome, aura, headache, and post-drome.*
Here’s how each of these four stages work according to the Mayo Clinic. The first stage, prodome, may start one to two days in advance of a migraine. There may be–but not always–subtle changes that warn of an upcoming migraine. For instance: constipation, mood changes, from depression to euphoria, food cravings, neck stiffness, increased thirst and urination, and frequent yawning. Some people may experience these symptoms while others may not. For me, I know my mood changes and my neck stiffens (this doesn’t mean that I am any more stubborn than I already am). But something weird happened with this latest migraine that I haven’t noticed before. I have been so thirsty for the last number of days. This particular side effect of migraine and headache has not affected me as badly as it has over the past week or so. I tell you this because the first thought that came to my head is that maybe my kidneys aren’t working properly or I’m all of a sudden a diabetic or something like that. Now that I know, I’m not worried about having to drink too much water. It’s just a side effect of the migraine that I have had now since late Sunday evening.
The second stage is aura. Aura may occur before or during migraines. I generally don’t have aura, but I’ve heard of this before. Instead, I see what appears to be hallucinations of small bugs crawling here or there which is a visual disturbance caused by the nervous system. Sometimes my eyes will zigzag back and forth quickly nauseating me and making me dizzy. Sometimes auras can be caused by touching sensations (sensory), movement (motor), or speech (verbal) disturbances. You may feel weak physically or you may feel as if someone is touching you disturbing your nervous system. Some of the other symptoms of aura might include: vision loss, pins and needles sensations in an arm or leg, weakness or numbness in the face or on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, hearing noises or music, and uncontrollable jerking or other movements. I experience the uncontrollable jerking and other movements while I’m trying to sleep the migraines away. Hearing noises and having lights around me are horrible when it comes to pain caused by the migraines.
The third stage is headache or attack. A migraine can last from four hours all the way to 72 hours if untreated. In fact, even if treated with medication it can still last for that long. The frequency and duration of migraines is different with each person. They may be rare or they may strike several times a month. Some of the effects of the migraines may include: paint on one side or both sides of your head, pain that feels throbbing or pulsing, sensitivity to light, sounds, and sometimes smells and touch, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision, and light-headedness, sometimes followed by fainting. I’ve experienced the pain on one side or both sides of my head. This migraine this week has been mostly on the right side until this morning it has been on the left side. Sensitivity to light and sound is always an issue when I’m migrainous. I’m generally nauseated and vomit now and then and blurred vision is certainly the case with me, even with my glasses.
The final stage of a migraine is called post-drome. This occurs after a migraine attack. You may feel completely drained and washed out or you may even feel elated. Some of the side effects of this final stage include: confusion, moodiness, dizziness, weakness, and sensitivity to light and sound. I’m generally exhausted the day after the migraine ends and the left side of the back of my head is extremely sensitive to touch and may cause a headache again if pressure is put on it.
So what causes your migraines or headaches? I’ve discovered that the barometric pressure affects me in negative ways. If the barometric pressure dips below 30, I can feel it happening at least one to two days in advance. This means that there is low pressure happening such as a thunderstorm, rain, or cold weather. Even the slightest low pressure will affect me and I’ll end up with a migraine or headache. For some it is the foods they eat that trigger a reaction, or it is stress that triggers a reaction.
Whatever the case may be, they’re no fun at all.