Not all migraines are created equal. In fact, some migraine sufferers experience an “aura” before a migraine strikes, while others do not. Migraines without aura are referred to as “Common Migraines” as they occur in approximately ⅔ of migraine patients. Migraines with aura occur in ⅓ of migraine patients and are referred to as “Classic Migraines.”
Aura is the second potential stage of a migraine. Although usually uncomfortable for patients, auras can serve as “warnings” before a migraine attack. Auras may be sensory, motor or verbal. The most common auras are sensory, and these auras typically involve vision changes. Motor auras generally involve muscle spasms or weakness, and verbal auras involve difficulties with speech. Auras can sometimes combine multiple categories.
The aura stage may generally occurs right before a headache and lasts between 10 to 30 minutes. Rarely, an aura may occur without an associated headache. Aura sufferers usually have consistent aura symptoms, migraine-to-migraine.
In addition to aura, a migraine sufferer may experience one or both of the following other migraine stages:
Prodrome: Prodrome is the first stage of a migraine and occurs one to two days before a migraine. If experiencing this stage, an individual may have one of a slew of emotional and/or physical symptoms, including anxiety, depression or muscle cramps.
Postdrome: Serves as the final stage of a migraine. Results in a hangover-like feeling immediately after a migraine attack. Postdrome often lasts about 24 hours and may cause depression, exhaustion and other symptoms that make it difficult for a person to focus on everyday tasks.
Each stage of a migraine can vary in length and severity, depending on the individual.
Environmental migraine triggers are outside factors that can cause migraines to occur. There are many categories of migraine triggers, such as:
- Foods and food additives
- Environmental changes
- Hormonal changes
In many cases, migraine sufferers are familiar with their migraine triggers and can reduce migraines by avoiding or eliminating these triggers. Yet this is not always 100% possible, and most patients will still experience some migraines despite environmental trigger avoidance. There are also anatomical migraine triggers which can be diagnosed by Dr. Cabin.
Traditional migraine treatments often involve a combination of lifestyle changes (like trigger avoidance), alternative therapies, and medications. There are “prophylactic” or “preventative” medications that are used to prevent migraines before they occur, and other “rescue” or “acute” medications that treat them once they start. But these traditional migraine treatments tend to be ineffective and/or lead to intolerable side effects.
The Migraine Institute is a leader in long-term migraine relief. Dr. Jonathan Cabin, a board-certified head and neck surgeon with dual-specialty training in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, always looks beyond traditional headache treatments to evaluate patients for possible cutting-edge, interventional treatments. He helps migraine sufferers through a holistic evaluation of the qualities of their migraines, uncovering nerve trigger sites and treating these sites with Botox or migraine surgery.