When most people hear the term migraine, they often think of a severe headache. But headaches are just a symptom of migraines, and they can vary in severity and duration. Migraines are a neurological disease that involves nerve pathways and chemicals, explains Brockman. Formerly called transformed migraines, chronic migraines are migraine headaches that occur more than 15 days a month.
Most people who have migraines have had them for years, usually since early adolescence or earlier. Chronic daily migraines usually begin in people between the ages of 20 and 30. The main symptom of migraine is a headache. Pain is sometimes described as throbbing or pulsating.
It may start as a dull pain that turns into pulsating pain that is mild, moderate, or severe. If left untreated, the headache will become moderate to severe. The pain may change from one side of the head to the other, or it may affect the front of the head, the back of the head, or feel like it affects the entire head. Some people feel pain around the eye or temple, and sometimes in the face, sinuses, jaw, or neck.
There are extremely rare families that have migraines as a result of a single genetic mutation in one of the four known genes that can cause the condition called familial hemiplegic migraine. There are no genetic tests for the vast majority of patients. Because the condition cannot be diagnosed by a scan or blood test, the diagnosis is clinically made by an experienced physician. If you have a headache more than 15 days a month, you probably have chronic migraine.
Many of the days often feel like typical migraines, but there can be considerable variability in the severity of symptoms and headache on any given day. On some days, patients may mistake pain for a “tension headache” or “sinus headache” if the pain is less severe. Many patients with chronic migraine also use painkillers for acute headache for more than 10 to 15 days per month, and this can actually lead to an even more frequent headache. A migraine is usually a severe, severe headache that can last for hours or even days.
Throbbing or pulsating pain usually starts in the forehead, the side of the head, or around the eyes. Almost any movement, activity, bright light or loud noise seems to make it hurt more. Nausea and vomiting are common during a migraine. One type, called “abortifacient” focuses on preventing the headache from becoming severe and relieving the headache.
And because headaches happen every day, many people tend to take too many pain relievers, both prescription and over-the-counter, and use these medications daily, even when they don't have a headache. Because they occur over such a large area and cause other symptoms, cluster headaches can be the most irritating headache and are sometimes called “suicidal headaches”. It is common for this type of headache to require physical therapy in addition to medication or other treatment. Medication overuse headaches occur when a person takes too many medications to treat a primary headache.
When chronic migraines begin, you may notice that your headaches are less severe but occur more often until they happen every day. Reviewed for accuracy by subject matter experts, headache specialists and medical advisors from the American Migraine Foundation with in-depth knowledge and training in headache medicine; identifying and treating headaches as early as possible can help a person engage in preventive treatments to minimize the possibility of another headache. Focusing on exactly where your head hurts and the symptoms that come with it can help you and your doctor determine what type of migraine or headache you have resulting in a more effective treatment plan and fewer painful days. Experts estimate that nearly half of the adult population experiences headaches and 12% of Americans suffer from migraines.
Sometimes you or your healthcare provider may assume that the pain you feel is a sinus headache or a tension-type headache. The most common cause of recurrent and disabling headache; migraines are also the most common underlying cause of daily and chronic disabling headache; these headaches come in groups which means that several headaches occur at the same time every day for several weeks. If a person takes medicine for migraine headache more than 10 days a month; this could cause an effect known as rebound headaches; cluster headaches are very painful headaches that occur on one side of the head and come in groups.