April 17, 2014

Migraine Headaches Overview

If you suffer from migraine headaches, you are not alone.  In 2003, The World Health Organization estimated that 303 million people worldwide suffered from migraine headaches.  This number may be conservative, as individuals often self-diagnose themselves as having a sinus headache when, in all actuality, what they are experiencing is a migraine headache.

A migraine is a neurological condition.  It often results in reccurring attacks that have similar attributes to that of a normal headache, but are longer in duration and more severe than a common headache.  Migraines are typically classified into two categories:  classic and common.  Classic migraines are often preceded by visual disturbances (like flashing light) and odd physical sensations that can include tingling, numbness, nausea and vomiting. Precursors to common migraines are feelings of depression and/or restlessness, or even periods of talkativeness. These symptoms are usually experienced two to three days before the migraine starts.

Several things are known to contribute to migraines. The rate of blood flow to the brain or the constriction in certain blood vessels may play a role. In addition, a wide variety of stimuli have been reported to trigger the onset of a migraine headache, including tension, bright lights, loud noises, strong smells, weather changes, fatigue, missed meals, and emotional upset. Many common foods and beverages, including lunchmeat, hot dogs, alcohol, beans, coffee, tea, cheese, and chocolate may also trigger a migraine.

The onset of a migraine is marked when the blood vessels within the head shrink, then swell, resulting in extreme and uncomfortable pain.   It is estimated that 60% of all migraine pain tends to be localized to one side of the head.  The length and frequency of migraine attacks vary. Migraines can last a few minutes, a couple of hours, or, in severe cases, several days. Some individuals suffer migraines weekly, while others have one per year.

When migraine headaches occur at a frequency and intensity so as to prevent people from being able to work, they will often apply for Social Security Disability. To read more about applying for Social Security Disability benefits based on migraine headaches, please click on the link.