Migraine is the corrupted form of the word 'hemicrania'. This got twisted to hemigranea and then migranea. Eventually migraine gained acceptance in the eighteenth century. It has prevailed ever since.
Migraine is the name of a disease that comprises of a group of symptoms. Headache is the primary one. The headache is periodic. It returns after a brief interlude of a symptom free period. Usually, there are accompanying symptoms like photophobia (intolerance of light) and vomiting. Visual symptoms like temporary blindness or floating stars may also be present. These symptoms are relieved by sleep or by being in dark surroundings. Usually the pain starts on one side of the head and spreads to the whole head in a few hours. But this is not a rule. The pain may be generalised. In other cases, it may spread from the start itself.
A classical migraine is defined as the headache that is preceded by an aura. The most common premonitory symptoms comprising the aura are visual. These include flashing lights, zig-zag lines and dark spots. This form of migraine affects only about 10% of the patients.
90% of the patients do not have any aura. This is known as the common migraine. The headache comes without any warning or prodromal symptoms. Accompanying symptoms are nausea, vomiting, dislike of food and diarrhoea or constipation.
Any of the following factors like alcohol, smoke, menses, hunger, lack of sleep, glare of bright light, strong smell as of perfumes and mental stress may trigger a migraine. Of all these factors, one or more can be observed in an individual. The factors that have usually been seen to relieve a migraine are sleep, pregnancy and exhilaration. It is by far more common in women than men. There is a hereditary predisposition toward attacks, which means that children are at a higher risk if parents suffer from it. This does not in any way mean that the children will necessarily inherit the problem.
Patients with a migraine do not encounter more stress than headache-free individuals. They seem to be over-sensitive to stress. Since it is difficult to eliminate stress in modern life, conditioning oneself to stress by various techniques is helpful. The important thing to remember is that these methods should be practiced regularly and not only at the time of a crisis. Yoga and meditation are quite helpful. These measures should be continued along with medication and are not to be thought of as a substitute of treatment.
Role of Homoeopathy
Belladonna. The headache comes suddenly and is very violent. Cold air and light ( both natural and artificial) aggravate the headache. Only relief is from binding the head tightly and being in a dark room. 200C potency taken at an hourly interval during the acute phase works wonders.
Sanguinarea. The headache is on the right side. It starts from the back, spreads to the front and settles over the eyes, especially the right eye. The headache is periodic in recurrence and is aggravated by sunlight. 200C potency taken twice a day can eradicate the very tendency of a migraine.