Migraine headaches are neurological conditions that can trigger intense symptoms that can be debilitating. A migraine headache can strike at any time but usually occurs on a regular basis – whether once a week or once a month and can be debilitating.
The menstrual migraine headaches are those that occur during the menstrual cycle. Many women experience menstrual migraines but only a small percentage actually experience migraines during menstruation. In most cases, the attacks occur before or after the menstruation starts or when the woman starts to ovulate.
What are the causes of menstrual migraines?
If you are wondering why menstruation triggers a migraine, there are reasons for this. Always bear in mind that the hormone estrogen is linked to pain and once the level of estrogen drops at the time of menstruation, the woman is prone to pain.
Taking estrogen-based birth control pills can cause a drastic drop in the hormone right before menstruation and can make the menstrual migraine headaches even worse.
How the symptoms differ
The menstrual migraine headaches usually have symptoms that are different from the regular migraines. When it comes to menstrual migraine headaches, they tend to trigger intense pain and other accompanying symptoms. These symptoms usually last longer than usual, usually up to 72 hours. In most circumstances, the attacks occur along with nausea and vomiting. In addition, the migraines can also occur with higher frequency than the regular migraines and less responsive to treatment.
Just like with any migraine, a headache is essentially the main symptom. For menstrual migraine headaches, they can occur with or without an aura and usually start on only one side of the head. The pain is described as a throbbing or pounding sensation.
The menstrual migraine headaches can also lead to increased sensitivity to stimulus including loud sounds and bright lights. The woman might not be able to keep the eyes open to lights, even to regular sunshine and even the slightest noise or sound can aggravate the headache. Being exposed to stimuli will only make the head pound even more.
What are the other symptoms?
When it comes to a menstrual migraine headache, it can cause the entire body to hurt, thus resulting to generalized aches and pains in the muscles and joints. Understandably, this can also lead to extreme fatigue.
The individual will also notice irregular bowel movements and urination while also having an increased appetite. In some women, they also crave for alcohol, chocolate and salty foods. The migraines can also leave the individual feeling clumsy and uncoordinated.
Treatment of menstrual migraine headaches
There are medications that can be given to effectively manage menstrual migraine headaches. These medications include triptans, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and ergotamine which helps ease the migraine attacks. Some of these can also be used to prevent them. Some women might require hormone therapy in order to stabilize the hormonal levels as well as prevent attacks.