If you suffer from chronic migraines, then you know how challenging it can be to get rid of them.
This article highlights the various types of migraines, potential triggers, and three tips for ending migraine symptoms for good.
How Many Types Of Migraines Are There?
Not all migraine attacks are the same. They vary in frequency, severity, and symptoms. Some migraines occur a few times a week or once in a couple of months. Some may just be a moderate headache, while at other times, nausea or sweating can accompany a migraine.
Generally, doctors will take note of your symptoms and diagnose the condition based on two primary types of migraine:
- Migraine with aura: This migraine comes with specific warning signs or “aura” that occur before a headache. But can sometimes appear during or even after a headache. Aura signs can be visual (bright lines, flickering), auditory (tinnitus or ringing in the ears), somatosensory (tingling, numbness), or motor (weakness on one side of the body or face)
- Migraine without aura: This migraine only presents with a headache without the warning signs. It is five times more common than migraine with aura.
Migraine Symptoms And Potential Causes
Headaches are one of the primary symptoms of migraine. They often start as a dull ache that turns into a pulsing or pounding pain ranging from mild and moderate to severe. The pain can also shift from one side to another (around the temples, sinuses, or neck) or spread to the front and back of your head. Other symptoms may also appear at the same time. For example:
- Blurred vision
- Feeling dizzy
- Loss of appetite
- Tender scalp
- Stomach problems
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feeling warm and sweating
- Getting the chills
- Sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises
- Diarrhea or fever (in rare cases of migraine)
To date, the root cause of migraine remains unknown. However, many factors can trigger the condition, such as missing a meal, emotional stress, sensitivity to chemicals, caffeine, medication, hormonal changes, flashing lights, overexertion, dehydration, lack of sleep, daily use of pain-relieving medications (can cause rebound headache) and even weather conditions like barometric pressure or changes in altitude.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shares similar views about migraine triggers, which include pathogenic factors, irregular diet, irregular lifestyle, and emotional dysregulation. In addition, blood stasis and blood deficiency during a menstrual cycle can also lead to migraine in women.
How To Get Rid Of Migraine Symptoms
Mild cases of migraine can go away on their own. However, if a migraine attack is affecting your work and daily life, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional to get the condition under control. Fortunately, many different treatment options are available.
Medication for migraine is divided into two categories: for immediate relief (acute treatment) and preventive treatment.
To instantly reduce or stop a migraine headache, doctors usually prescribe painkillers like paracetamol (panadol), mefenamic acid (ponstan), ibuprofen, diclofenac (voltaren), and naproxen (synflex).
These medications should be taken as soon as the symptoms set in. However, as they produce many side effects, you should not take these painkillers on a long-term basis. Paradoxically, overusing or prolonged use of these painkillers can exacerbate the pain.
For preventing occasional migraines, medications include Pizotifen (sandomigran), flunarizine (sibelium), Propranolol, and
This way, patients have more control over their condition, allowing them to go about their daily activities without worrying if a migraine attack is just around the corner. Like painkillers, these medications also come with strong side effects, so talk to your doctor beforehand.
For other symptoms like nausea or vomiting, patients are recommended antiemetic or anti-sickness medicine, such as Metoclopramide (maxolon) or
In TCM, migraine treatment emphasises the liver, spleen, and kidney. There are also different types of migraine, with each requiring a specific treatment protocol. The most common types are:
- Blood stasis
orsyndrome of phlegm-dampness blocking collaterals
- Liver q
i orhepatic yang hyperactivity
- Qi (vital life energy) and blood deficiency
- Liver and kidney yin deficiency
“All these different types of migraine signify yin (passive energy) and yang (active energy) imbalance as well as qi and blood disorder in the head,” Physician Sam Ng explains. “When treating migraine patients, we focus on a few key areas. These include replenishing qi and promoting blood circulation along with invigorating the spleen and resolving phlegm. We also look into dispersing stagnated liver qi and unblocking stuffy orifice, as well as nourishing the liver and kidney.”
According to one study, a combination of acupuncture and a modified herbal decoction called Huo Xue Qu Feng Tong Luo Tang (Blood Activating Wind Dispelling Meridian Unblocking Decoction) is effective in relieving migraines and their accompanying symptoms like nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual auras.
Apart from acupuncture and herbal medicine, acupressure can also provide
- LI-4 (He Gu), which is located between the base of your thumb and index finger
- LR 3 (Tai Chong), which is located about two to five centimetres from the base of the big toe and index toe
As external conditions and lifestyle habits can trigger migraines, it helps to make some changes in your daily life to manage the headaches better. Here are some tips from Physician Sam:
- Ensure regular meals and a well-balanced diet. It’s important to have at least regular three meals a day. Minimize the intake of raw, cold, spicy, and pungent foods.
- Stay away from cigarettes and alcohol. Also, reduce caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea.
- Get enough sleep and don’t overexert yourself.
- Keep your emotions in check and learn stress management or relaxation techniques.
- Moderate exercise is essential as well. Start with low impact workouts and keep to a consistent routine.
Migraine is a long-term health condition that can negatively impact your professional and personal life. If you suffer from severe migraine symptoms, seek professional help from a doctor or TCM practitioner to manage the condition and improve your quality of life.