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Headache / Migraine

What are migraine auras?

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Migraine auras are symptoms of a sensory nature that may occur before or during headache. They tend to take the form of visual and physical disturbances or sensations.

Aura migraine is a type of migraine headache. But sometimes the auras can occur without a headache’s physical pain.

A migraine episode’s aura stage typically lasts under an hour. Common symptoms include tunnel vision, seeing stars, and tingling sensations in the hands or feet.

While migraine and migraine auras may be debilitating, these headaches are not physically harmful, and people can usually manage their symptoms through medical and home treatment.

Read on to find out more about the types of aura migraine and the treatment options available.

What is a migraine aura?

A migraine aura can sometimes last up to 60 minutes.
A migraine aura can sometimes last up to 60 minutes.

Symptoms such as intense throbbing or pulsing head pain, sensitivity to light , sound, and smells, and nausea are characterized by migraine headaches.

25–30 percent of people with migraine headaches report additional aura symptoms. A migraine aura is described by some as a “warning sign,” as its symptoms often develop before a headache.

Migraine aura symptoms usually show up over a period of 5–20 minutes and tend to last for up to 60 minutes.

A migraine headache may last between 4 hours and 3 days, without treatment. Migraine episodes occur from very rarely to several times a month.

Auras can assume one of three main forms: visual disturbances, physical sensations and difficulty with speech or language. In the following parts we discuss these in greater detail.

Visual auras

Some examples of visual changes associated with migraine aura include seeing:

  • blind spots, called scotomas
  • colored spots
  • flashes of light
  • stars or sparkles of light
  • zigzag lines
  • tunnel vision

These often start in the center of the field of view of a person before moving outwards. People can also suffer temporary blindness or loss of vision during a migraine episode.

Physical sensation auras

Auras involve physical sensations such as tingling, numbness, and dizziness for some people. These sensations can begin on one side of the body, before slowly spreading to other areas.

Physical aura sensations can include:

  • pins and needles in the arms and legs
  • numbness or tingling sensations
  • dizziness
  • vertigo (spinning dizziness)
  • muscle weakness on one side

Speech or language difficulty auras

Some people might find it difficult to speak or communicate with others during a migraine episode. They may struggle to find the right words to use, or their speech may mumble or slur.

Other symptoms

Along with other sensations, migraine aura may also cause:

  • memory changes
  • feelings of fear
  • confusion
  • rarely, partial paralysis or fainting

Types of migraine with aura

Aura-borne migraine is fairly common and anyone with migraine may experience auras. Certain migraine subtypes, however, are especially likely to involve auras.

Migraine with aura has previously been referred to as classic migraine, focal migraine, aphasic migraine and complicated migraine by experts.

Other, rare forms of aura-causing migraines include:

Hemiplegic migraine

This is a rare type of migraine on one side of the body that involves temporary weakness, or paralysis. Other symptoms include numbness and pins and needles.

Usually, the weakness goes away within 24 hours, but it could last for many days.

Researchers are not aware of the true prevalence of hemiplegic migraine, according to the National Organization for Rare Diseases. Some study, however, indicates it affects about one in 10,000 people.

Migraine with brainstem aura

Brainstem aura migraine, formerly known as basilar-type migraine, is rare. In fact, Denmark ‘s 2006 study indicates that it occurs in about 10 per cent of people experiencing migraine with aura.

The most common symptoms appear to be:

The researchers conclude that migraine with brainstem aura can occur to anyone experiencing migraine with aura on occasion.

Retinal migraine

Retinal migraine is another rare Migraine aura subtype. It is only affecting vision in one eye. It may cause temporary blindness in that eye or the appearance of flickering lights.

About 1 in 200 people suffering from migraine will experience retinal migraine. Most people who develop it are under 40. A personal history of some form of migraine and a retinal migraine family history both raise the risk of developing retinal migraine.

Causes and risk factors

Doctors don’t fully understand the exact cause of migraine.

Migraine with an aura may occur when a wave of electrical activity moves through the brain’s visual cortex, which is the part processing visual signals.

Triggers for migraine with aura include:

  • alcohol consumption, especially wine
  • caffeine consumption
  • exposure to bright lights or strong sun
  • food and food additives, such as aged cheeses, processed foods, and monosodium glutamate
  • hormonal fluctuations in females (due to pregnancy, menstruation, or oral contraceptives, for example)
  • intense physical activity or overexertion
  • lack of sleep or too much sleep
  • medications, such as the use of oral contraceptives or vasodilators for high blood pressure
  • stress
  • strong smells, such as that of smoke, perfume, or gasoline
  • weather changes or barometric pressure changes

Factors which increase the risk of migraine developing, including aura migraine, include:

Treatments and remedies

The migraine-aura treatment options are similar to those for other migraine types.

Treatment depends on the frequency and severity of symptoms present in a person. There are some options which include:

Medications

A man talking drugs
Anti-inflammatory pain relievers may help treat migraine with aura.

The following over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs can help with aura treatment of migraine:

  • anti-inflammatory pain relievers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB)
  • migraine relief medications, such as Excedrin Migraine
  • antinausea medicines, to reduce nausea and vomiting
  • codeine medications or other opioids
  • dihydroergotamines, in the form of a nasal spray or injection
  • triptans, such as sumatriptan (Imitrex, Tosymra) or rizatriptan (Maxalt), to block the brain’s pain signals

People suffering from frequent or severe migraine headaches may benefit from preventive drugs. Including:

Medical devices

Some medical devices can help by stimulating the brain in specific ways to reduce migraine pain. Including:

Single pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation

These devices use magnetic-energy pulses. People have to put it on the head for a couple of moments to see results.

Some research suggests these devices can reduce the severity or frequency of migraine episodes, or both. However, they are not suitable for all and are only available with a prescription.

Cefaly

In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) approved the migraine-prevention Cefaly device. Individuals are required to wear the headband for 20 minutes a day.

Early research suggests that it shows promise for some people in treating migraine.

Lifestyle changes and home remedies

Home remedies may help alleviate some migraine symptoms, while lifestyle changes can prevent onset.

To treat a migraine using home remedies:

  • Take a nap when symptoms first appear.
  • Lie down in a quiet, cool, dark room.
  • Place a cool compress or ice pack on the forehead or back of the neck.

Lifestyle changes that may help prevent migraine episodes include:

  • practicing stress reduction techniques, including yoga, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation exercises
  • sticking to a consistent sleep routine, with the same bedtime and wake time every day
  • eating a balanced diet that is low in processed foods and food additives
  • drinking plenty of water and limiting or avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • avoiding migraine triggers, where possible, or using preventative medicines before triggering events (such as menstruation or weather changes)

For severe or recurrent migraine episodes, the use of medical treatments alongside home care strategies is usually the most effective.

When to see a doctor

A person can talk to their doctor if migraine with aura does not completely resolve with time.
A person can talk to their doctor if migraine with aura does not completely resolve with time.

People with aura migraine symptoms should see their doctor at the earliest opportunity.

People should see a doctor too if the symptoms are:

  • have an immediate onset
  • last for longer than an hour
  • only occur in one eye
  • do not completely resolve with time

A doctor should conduct tests in these cases to rule out more severe problems, such as a stroke or a retinal tear.

Summary

Aura migraine may be uncomfortable and debilitating but it is not life-threatening.

Trying approaches for home treatment and taking OTC medications can help most people control their symptoms before the episode or headache subsides.

Those with recurrent or severe migraine headaches may need medicines or medical devices to manage their symptoms and prevent future episodes.

Ear, Nose and Throat

Are sinus infections contagious?

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Sinus infections, often called sinusitis, are sometimes confused with the highly contagious common cold.

However, just because sinus infections and colds have similar symptoms does not mean that all sinus infections are as contagious as a cold.

It depends on the cause of a sinus infection whether it is communicable or not.

What is it?

sinus infection

Sinuses are hollow cavities that can be found in the cheeks, on either side of the nose, behind the nose, and in the forehead.

Normally, these spaces are airy and bordered by a thin coating of mucus.

When the tissues around these hollow spaces enlarge or become infected by bacteria, fungus, or a virus, a sinus infection results.

Are sinus infections contagious?

Sinus infections can be caused by a variety of causes, some of which are communicable.

A virus-caused sinus infection is infectious and rapidly spreads from person to person.

Sinus infections caused by a deformity, nasal obstruction, or allergies are not communicable.

Sinus infections are classified into several categories.

Sinus infections are divided into different categories based on how long they last.

The following are some of them:

  • Acute – Infections that persist for four weeks or less
  • Subacute – Infections that last between 4 and 12 weeks
  • Chronic – Infections that continue longer than 12 weeks
  • Recurrent – infections that recur on a yearly basis

Furthermore, each form of sinus infection can be caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, or fungi.

Because of blockages in the nasal passages or malformations in the sinus cavities, some forms of sinusitis simply cause swelling and irritation. Sinus infections can also be caused by allergies and long-term exposure to pollution.

Symptoms

Sinus infections are frequently mistaken for a nasty cold. People may find it difficult to tell the difference between a cold and a sinus infection. Some of the symptoms are similar to those of a cold. These are some of them:

  • pain in the teeth
  • pain in one or both ears
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • pressure in the sinus cavities
  • bad breath
  • cloudy nasal discharge
  • stuffiness of the nose
  • cough
  • postnasal drip
  • sore throat

Bacterial sinus infections have a few additional symptoms. These signs and symptoms include:

  • facial pain
  • symptoms lasting longer than a week
  • pus-like or thick nasal discharge

Treatments

The majority of sinus infections are treated solely for symptom relief. There are numerous alternatives for alleviating annoying symptoms.

These are some of them:

  • oral steroids for more severe infections
  • nasal irrigation to reduce mucus drainage and remove irritants
  • medicated nasal sprays containing corticosteroids that reduce inflammation

A doctor would usually prescribe medicines to destroy the bacteria in cases of bacterial sinusitis. Antibiotics may be required for up to two weeks if a person has bacterial sinusitis.

Treatment for chronic or recurring sinus infections will also seek to address the underlying cause and shorten the length or frequency of infections.

A doctor may recommend injecting steroids straight into the nasal passages to relieve inflammation in these circumstances.

A doctor may recommend surgery to open up the sinus passages and give them more room to drain in cases of chronic sinusitis that are resistant to treatment. A doctor may provide allergy shots in the case of chronic sinus infections caused by allergies.\

Home remedies

A person may choose to self-treat a sinus infection at home in some instances. Until the sinus infection clears up, people can take over-the-counter drugs to treat their symptoms.

The following are some of the most frequent over-the-counter remedies for sinus infections:

  • Acetaminophen: Pain and tenderness caused by enlarged nasal passages are reduced.
  • Decongestants: reduce the amount of mucus that is produced
  • Cold medications: Drugs that treat a wide range of symptoms, such as congestion, pain, and cough

Additional therapies may be beneficial in conjunction with at-home treatment. Steam or a humidifier, for example, can assist cleanse nasal passages.

Some people use nasal irrigation at home to eliminate extra mucus and clear their airways.

Essential oils can be used by people who are interested in herbal or natural remedies.

Lemon oil, lavender oil, and eucalyptus oil are some oils that may aid with sinus strain. Essential oils should be used with caution because they are not regulated or controlled by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

When should you see a doctor?

Anyone who has been experiencing pain and pressure in their sinuses for more than a week should contact a doctor. If a chronic fever or cough does not improve with time, they should be addressed.

A doctor will examine a person who exhibits these symptoms. A physical examination and a determination of the individual’s history of sinus infections will be part of the evaluation.

The following indicators of sinus infection will be looked for by a doctor:

  • bad breath
  • tenderness of the face
  • swelling of nasal passages and tissues
  • greenish mucus
  • redness in the nasal passages

A doctor might also inquire about your pain. Pain in the ears, teeth, and areas surrounding the nasal passages are typically of interest to doctors.

If a sinus infection has lasted more than a week and the doctor suspects a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed.

Antibiotics aren’t always required because infections might be caused by viruses, allergies, or nasal abnormalities.

Sources:

  • https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/11/sinus-infections-contagious/
  • http://care.american-rhinologic.org/sinusitis_q_a
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318237
  • http://acaai.org/allergies/types/sinus-infection
  • http://www.entnet.org/content/sinusitis

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Headache / Migraine

What is status migrainosus?

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Status migrainosus is a type of migraine that is difficult to treat. It’s a migraine that lasts more than 72 hours.

Treatments for migraines may not be effective in treating status migrainosus. However, there are a number of options for dealing with it.

The episodes can become debilitating and interfere with daily life. A person may require hospital treatment to break the cycle of symptoms.

In this article, we’ll look at what causes status migrainosus, how it differs from other types of migraine, and how to alleviate symptoms.

What is it?

status migrainosus
Status migrainosus symptoms extend longer than those of a regular migraine attack.

A severe migraine attack that lasts more than 72 hours is known as status migrainosus. The same symptoms that characterize a person’s usual migraine attacks may be present, but they may be more severe.

The main sign of status migrainosus is the persistent headache and accompanying symptoms. When traditional methods of symptom management, such as rest and medication, fail, hospitalization may be required.

The majority of migraine attacks follow a distinct pattern. A warning period may precede this, which may include visual problems or other sorts of aura.

Following that, during the attack phase of a migraine episode, a person may have a headache and:

  • sensitivity to light and noise
  • fatigue
  • nausea and possibly vomiting

The person may feel a migraine “hangover” as these symptoms fade, which can last hours or even days.

A person can distinguish a migraine episode from other forms of headaches based on the sequence of symptoms.

The headache phase of status migrainosus lasts for at least 72 hours, or three days.

Symptoms

The pain and nausea of status migrainosus are so intense for some people that they must spend time in a hospital.

The symptoms are comparable to those of other migraine types, but they linger longer and are more severe.

Migraine symptoms can also differ from person to person and episode to episode, although they typically look like this:

Phase of the prodrome

Mood swings, food cravings, nausea, difficulty sleeping, concentration, sensitivity to light and sound, and other symptoms may occur. They can persist anywhere from a few hours to several days.

Aura

If a person goes through this phase, their eyesight may change – lights or strange forms may appear in their field of view. On one side of the body, a person may experience numbness and tingling.

This stage could last anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour.

Phase of a headache

It’s possible that the headache will be severe and throbbing. It usually affects one side of the head, although it can also affect the other.

The migraine must include the following symptoms to be diagnosed as status migrainosus:

  • pain that is debilitating, rather than jus
  • a headache that lasts longer than 72 hours

A person with status migrainosus may also experience the following symptoms:

Changes in consciousness: Difficulty concentrating and communicating, as well as confusion and sleepiness, are all possible symptoms.

Vomiting and nausea: It’s possible that a person won’t be able to eat or drink, putting them at risk of dehydration and other symptoms.

Other symptoms: These may include weakness and tingling, nasal congestion, pain and stiffness in the neck, anxiety, and low mood.

The pain may temporarily ease with medication, rest, or both.

Diagnosis

There is no reliable test for migraine. Whether a person sees a doctor during or after an episode, the doctor may do the following:

  • perform a physical examination
  • do other tests to rule out, for example, a stroke or brain injury
  • ask about symptoms
  • take a medical history

Only migraine people develop status migrainosus.

A doctor may investigate whether a person’s medical history includes the following items to help determine whether they have status migrainosus:

  • at least five previous migraine episodes that each lasted 4–72 hours and occurred without an aura
  • two previous episodes of migraine with an aura

They may also conduct neurological tests or order an MRI to rule out other problems.

Treatment

Although there is no cure for migraine, drugs can help to reduce the duration of status migrainosus symptoms.

Pain, nausea, and other symptoms are treated with standard therapy. Among the possibilities are:

It’s important to preventing vomiting since dehydration can induce migraines and make symptoms worse.

A doctor may employ specialty medications to assist interrupt the cycle of symptoms in an emergency situation. The following therapies are possible:

  • steroids
  • muscle relaxants
  • antipsychotics
  • in rare cases, opioids
  • triptans, which tighten the blood vessels
  • anti-seizure medication
  • antihistamines

The doctor can inject these drugs if the patient is vomiting.

Prevention

There are methods for avoiding migraine attacks and status migrainosus. There are additional methods for reducing the severity or frequency of episodes.

Among the options are:

  • anti-seizure drugs
  • Botox injections
  • antihypertensive drugs
  • calcitonin gene-related peptide, or CGRP, pathway monoclonal antibodies
  • antidepressants

Acupuncture, biofeedback, and relaxation techniques are some non-drug treatments that may help.

Living with status migrainosus

Living with migraine can be challenging, particularly for those who are prone to status migrainosus.

Migraine can have long-term social, financial, and psychological consequences in addition to the immediate symptoms.

Life with migraine can be tough due to anxiety about an episode occurring, irritation over unmet plans, and a variety of other issues.

Support groups may be beneficial. They also give people the chance to share and learn new ways to deal with symptoms. The Move Against Migraine online group, for example, is run by the American Migraine Foundation.

Counseling may also assist a person in coping with the pain and anxiety that might accompany a chronic condition.

Find more tips for coping with migraine here.

Avoiding triggers

Many migraine people have noticed that certain triggers might set off attacks.

By keeping account of what happened in the days leading up to a migraine attack, including dietary, emotional, and environmental aspects, a person can learn to identify their triggers. The next stage is to figure out how to cut down on your exposure to these triggers.

The following are common status migrainosus triggers:

  • weather changes
  • infections, such as a cold or the flu
  • surgery on the head or face
  • hormonal imbalances
  • stress
  • changes in medication, such as antidepressants or birth control pills
  • injuries to the neck or head
  • changes in sleeping or eating patterns

Keeping hydrated and getting enough rest can help to lessen the number of episodes you have. Drinking at least 60–80 ounces of water each day is recommended.

Conclusion

The condition known as status migrainosus can be frightening and painful. Understanding what triggers these episodes and taking actions to avoid them might help reduce anxiety and keep the problem from recurring.

A tailored treatment strategy may also assist to avoid or lessen the severity of attacks.

After having status migrainosus, a person should seek further evaluation and counsel from a neurologist who specializes in migraine.

Sources:

  • https://www.ccjm.org/content/85/7/514.long
  • monoclonal-antibodies/
  • https://headaches.org/resources/intractable-migraine/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320247
  • http://www.headaches.org/2007/11/02/case-studies-issue-novemberdecember-2006/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554611/
  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/status-migrainosus
  • https://www.ichd-3.org/1-migraine/1-4-complications-of-migraine/1-4-1-status-migrainosus/
  • https://www.migrainetrust.org/about-migraine/migraine-what-is-it/symptoms-and-stages/
  • https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/timeline-migraine-attack/

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Complementary Medicine / Alternative Medicine

Is magnesium effective in the treatment of migraines?

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Migraines are difficult to treat with standard medicine, so many people seek out other methods to prevent them. Magnesium is one possible treatment.

Magnesium is a naturally occurring mineral that aids in blood pressure control, heart health, neuron and muscle function regulation, and the formation of bone, DNA, and protein. Headaches and migraines may be caused by a magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium is used by some people to treat and prevent migraine symptoms such as severe migraines, visual abnormalities, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and vomiting.

Magnesium and migraines

magnesium

Taking a magnesium supplement, according to some study, may be an effective method to prevent headaches. Other research has revealed that during a migraine, a person’s brain magnesium levels may be low.

To avoid migraines, the American Migraine Foundation recommends taking a 400–500 mg magnesium oxide supplement daily.

Magnesium’s effectiveness as a migraine preventive, according to some researchers, increases when a person takes higher dosages — over 600 (mg) — for at least 3 to 4 months.

Taking high dosages of magnesium as a supplement, on the other hand, may cause side effects in some people.

For people with migraines that include an aura or visual abnormalities, using magnesium may be more beneficial.

How to Treat Migraines with Magnesium

Magnesium oxide, in the form of a tablet, can be taken by migraine people to enhance their magnesium intake.

If a person is having trouble absorbing magnesium sulfate, a doctor may inject 1–2 grams (g) of it intravenously.

Magnesium can also be found in the following forms:

  • magnesium citrate
  • magnesium chloride
  • magnesium carbonate

The body absorbs these different types of magnesium at different rates. Magnesium is difficult to absorb unless it is bonded to something else, thus magnesium supplements frequently include other nutrients, such as amino acids, that have additional health advantages.

Some people prefer to increase their magnesium intake by eating more.

Magnesium can be found in the following foods:

  • mackerel, tuna, and Pollock
  • low-fat yogurt or kefir
  • bananas
  • figs
  • dark chocolate
  • cereals
  • spices
  • cocoa
  • nuts and grains
  • black beans and lentils
  • tea and coffee
  • green leafy vegetables
  • avocado
  • seeds, such as pumpkin or squash seeds
  • almonds

Magnesium is suggested in daily doses of 310–320 mg for women and 400–420 mg for males.

Risks and side effects

Magnesium is found in a variety of foods. There appear to be no hazards connected with increasing magnesium levels by consuming more of these foods.

Taking too many magnesium supplements, on the other hand, might cause unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea, cramping, and vomiting.

If a person develops diarrhea as a result of taking a magnesium supplement, they should stop using it immediately. Staying hydrated is also critical for a person suffering from diarrhea.

People should also avoid taking magnesium supplements if they are using aminoglycoside antibiotics. Combining these medications can cause in muscular weakness and other issues.

Magnesium can also interfere with how antibiotics are absorbed. As a result, any essential antibiotics should be taken at least 2 hours before or 4 to 6 hours after taking these supplements.

Magnesium also helps to reduce blood pressure. People who take magnesium supplements while taking blood pressure medicine may be at risk for hypotension, which is when blood pressure drops dangerously low.

An overabundance of magnesium in the body can have serious consequences, including:

  • coma
  • slowed breathing
  • an irregular heartbeat

Supplementing of magnesium may cause additional negative effects in people who have specific medical conditions, such as:

  • kidney problems, including kidney failure
  • gastrointestinal conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or a stomach infection
  • bleeding disorders
  • diabetes

Anyone considering taking magnesium supplements should consult with a physician first. A doctor can tell you if the supplement is safe for you depending on your medical history.

Before using a magnesium supplement, pregnant women should visit their doctor. They should also avoid taking high amounts of magnesium sulfate intravenously because it can cause bone thinning in the fetus.

Conclusion

Magnesium, if administered correctly, could be a safe therapeutic choice for migraine people. Its risk of negative side effects is lower than that of some established medical therapies.

Magnesium oxide may be especially beneficial for people who have a history of aura.

Magnesium supplements should be discussed with a doctor first, as they may combine with a person’s medication or exacerbate symptoms of an existing condition.

Magnesium supplements can be found in a variety of pharmacies and health food stores.

Sources:

  • http://nccam.nih.gov/health/pain/headachefacts.htm?nav=gsa
  • http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/magnesium
  • https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322596
  • http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
  • http://dining.nd.edu/whats-happening/news/69490-magnesiumthe-invisible-deficiency/
  • https://www.migrainetrust.org/living-with-migraine/treatments/supplements-and-herbs/
  • https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/understanding-migraine/magnesium/
  • https://www.migrainetrust.org/about-migraine/types-of-migraine/

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