Types of Migraines: What’s Happening in Your Head?

That aching, pounding headache that turns into a blinding migraine is something 47 million people in America suffer. This is about 15 percent of the population. Adult women However, in childhood, more boys experience migraines than girls. suffer the most though as 75 percent of those who experience migraines are female. There are different types of migraines and reasons why they happen, which we’ll focus this post on. Our next post on migraines will be how chiropractic care can ease the occurrences of them. 


What is a migraine?


Migraines are more than a headache. They are often accompanied by searing head pain, nausea, vomiting, brain fog, and sensitivity to light and sound. 


There are generally two different kinds of migraines: the classic migraine known as the migraine with aura and the common migraine known as the migraine without aura. Aura are the sensory issues that accompany a migraine. 


The migraine with aura happens in about a quarter of all migraine cases and includes a severe headache, sensitivity to light, dizziness, and maybe ringing in the ears or vision issues. The majority of migraines are those without aura which include many of the same painful symptoms as with aura but typically without the sensory sensitivities and vision problems. 


Other types of migraines


There are several other types of migraines that people can have, such as:


  • Silent migraine – this is when you don’t have a headache but have aura symptoms. 
  • Abdominal migraine – this one usually happens in children and includes stomach pains along with nausea and vomiting. Those symptoms can change into a classic migraine with time. 
  • Ocular or retinal migraine – this is a dangerous one and you should seek medical help immediately. Symptoms include either partial or total loss of vision in one eye and often a dull ache behind the eye, which can be short-lived. However, it can spread throughout your head. This could also be called a Ophthalmic migraine. 
  • Menstrual migraine – this happens when a headache is connected to a woman’s menstrual period. 
  • Vestibular migraine – if you have a history of motion sickness, you may be more prone to this type of migraine, which includes vertigo, nausea, balance issues, vomiting, and could have a headache or not. 
  • Hemiplegic migraine – symptoms of this kind of migraine can mimic a stroke – short paralysis or weakness on one side of the body, numbness, dizziness, and possible vision changes. Get medical assistance immediately. 
  • Status migrainosus – people with this type of migraine suffer pain so severe that sometimes they go to the hospital. Pain can last with this kind of migraine up to or more than 72 hours. Sometimes these are caused by medication or medication withdrawal.
  • Chronic migraines – this is when a patient suffers from migraines 15 or more days per month. 


Causes of Migraines


Even though migraines affect so many Americans, doctors still aren’t sure of the exact causes, which can be really frustrating for those who suffer from them. Doctors have figured out that often migraines pass through families and think that triggers like fatigue, super bright lights, or sensitivity to weather changes can cause them. 


The medical community also believes changes in brain chemicals can trigger migraines:


They think many brain chemicals — such as serotonin, calcitonin gene-related peptide, and dopamine — play a role. According to the theory, a wave of nerve cell activity spreads across the brain and excites the trigeminal nerve. This causes the release of neurotransmitters that trigger a change in the size of blood vessels, releasing more neurotransmitters and finally causing an inflammatory process and pain.


Even things like smells, stress, certain foods, and hormone levels can trigger migraines. 


Treating Migraines


Many people who suffer from migraines find that being in a dark, quiet room, using cold compresses on trigger points, taking over the counter pain relievers, or using prescription meds. 


It may be helpful to keep a diary of when your migraines happen and what was going on before it, what you ate, what kind of stress you were under, or any other possible trigger points. Some people find that limiting foods/drinks that may trigger migraines like: 


  • Red wine
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Chocolate (sorry)
  • Cheese
  • Foods with a lot of preservatives


There are several ways chiropractic care can help treat migraines, which is what we’ll discuss in the next post. If you’d like to come into our office for a consultation on how we can help treat your migraines, please call Greenville Spine at (864) 631-1420. We’d love to see how we can help you live a pain-free life.