It is normal for Romana to see flickering lights with the old stubborn headache that starts every month. The 32-year-old lawyer’s head pulsates quite often and the pain usually takes three to five days to go away. “They are the most horrible days when my head feels like a huge stone or a hot nail that is being hammered continuously. It is like a shrill, drilling pain that stays with me everywhere.” The resident of Murree suffers from it since teenage hood. A general practitioner once gave her pain killers for the problem which did not provide any relief. Disappointed Romana never contacted a doctor again.
According to Dr Rizwan Masood Butt, a neurosurgeon at Services Hospital, Lahore, there are many kinds of headaches and 30 percent of them are migraines. This rate is even higher in women or teenagers. “Hormonal changes in early teens and their difference in women is one of the major causes of migraines.” However, adults can also have this problem.
“Migraine is basically a severe form of headache that occurs to a particular side of the head and has particular timings or triggers,” adds Dr Azaz Ali Shah, a neurologist based in Hayatabad, Peshawar. It causes severe, throbbing pain that can even make the patient unconscious. “Mostly genetic in nature but can also be related to a certain stimulus such as a particular food like chocolate, ghee etcetera,” says Dr Rizwan.
This persistent pain can also be accompanied with vomiting, nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, blurred vision, bright spots, various shapes or flashing lights in vision and watery eyes. “In some cases, the headache can also cause sensitivity to light, sound or even certain smell/s,” informs Dr Azaz.
Shedding light on the causes further, Dr Rizwan mentions, “physical or mental stress, anxiety, tension and depression can also be the culprits.” Besides, unhealthy food choices, bad sleeping routine and stressful life can also be reasons of the pain.
As the attack can have a certain triggering source similar to allergies. Knowing them is highly essential. “A diary can be made in which one can write the foods or things that he had eaten or used before the attack. Strike out the common things that you ate or used before the attack. These are your triggers. Simply avoid them,” suggests Dr Azaz.
Migraines require proper treatment but in general, making lifestyle changes such as, improving diet, being active physically, sleeping for eight hours daily and avoiding stressful situations can help keep the issue at bay.
There is a strong relation of migraine with food therefore, keep a close check of the foods you eat. “Avoid using salt, sour food, chocolate and cola drinks,” warns Dr Rizwan. Also, drink plenty of water as it can improve oxygen level in the body.
Dr Azaz, further advises to eat more fruits and vegetables instead of junk food. “Chemicals in such food can disturb the neurological system of the body.”
Do not focus on something for a long time as it can strain your eyes and aggravate the headache. Limit screen time too. Do not overuse computer and mobile phone or watch television for long hours. And try to stay relaxed and calm as it can also improve the condition.
Be careful as not all headaches go away with pain killers. They can even be a sign of brain tumor or a recurrent and periodic headache such as migraine. Therefore, it is always essential to check with a relevant doctor before it is too late.