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Migraine Headache, Ambulatory Care

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

A migraine headache

is a severe headache. The pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities. A migraine can last a few hours up to several days. The exact cause of migraines is not known. It may be caused by changes in your body chemicals and extra sensitive nerves in your brain.

Common triggers for a migraine include the following:

  • Sunlight, bright or flashing lights, loud noises, smoke, or strong smells
  • Certain foods or drinks like chocolate, artificial sweeteners, red wine, or alcohol
  • Heat, humidity, or changes in the weather
  • Hormone changes from birth control pills, pregnancy, menopause, or during a monthly period
  • Stress, eye strain, oversleeping, or not getting enough sleep
  • Skipping meals or going too long without eating

Common warning signs include the following:

Warning signs usually start 15 to 60 minutes before the headache does. The most common migraine warning signs include:

  • Visual changes, often called auras. Your vision may blur or things may look different. You may have blind spots that last for a short amount of time. You may also see bright spots, lines, or have hallucinations.
  • Unusual tiredness or frequent yawning
  • Tingling in an arm or leg

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • A headache that seems different or much worse than your usual migraine headache
  • A severe headache with a fever or a stiff neck
  • New problems with speech, vision, balance, or movement
  • Feeling faint or confused

Treatment for a migraine

may include medicine to help prevent or stop a migraine. You may also need medicine to decrease pain or prevent vomiting.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Rest in a dark, quiet room. This will help decrease your pain.
  • Apply ice on your head for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps decrease pain.
  • Apply heat on your head for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms. You may alternate heat and ice.
  • Keep a record of your migraines. Write down when your migraines start and stop. Include your symptoms and what you were doing when the migraine began. Record what you ate or drank for 24 hours before the migraine started. Describe the pain and where it hurts. Keep track of what you did to treat your migraine and whether it worked.

Prevent another migraine headache:

  • Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Tobacco smoke can trigger a migraine. Ask for information if you need help quitting.
  • Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol can trigger a migraine. It can also interfere with the medicines used to treat your migraine.
  • Exercise regularly. Ask about the best exercise plan for you.
  • Manage stress. Stress may trigger a migraine. Learn new ways to relax, such as deep breathing.
  • Follow a sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Avoid foods that can trigger a migraine, such as caffeine or artificial sweeteners.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Bring your headache log with you when you see your healthcare provider. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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