Just like other forms of primary headache disorders, migraine is not necessarily fatal. However, it can be chronic and disabling if not adequately treated.

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, 90 percent of people with migraine are unable to work or function normally during an attack. In fact, migraine is considered as the second most common cause of lost workdays.

What is migraine?

Migraine is more than just a bad headache. It is a neurological disorder that includes a collection of symptoms besides head pain. When you have a migraine attack, it is almost impossible for you to do anything more than just lie on your bed until the symptoms subside.

How to tell if you are having migraine attacks?

The presentation of migraine can vary from person to person. However, if you are experiencing the following symptoms, there is a high chance that what you have is migraine.

  • You have a head pain that is moderate to severe and often hard to endure.
  • Your head pain occurs on one side of the head or both. It could be in the front or at the back.
  • Your head pain causes a throbbing, pounding, or pulsating sensation.
  • Your head pain gets worse with physical activity or any movement.
  • You experience nausea and/or vomiting.
  • You are sensitive to light, noise, and/or smells.
  • Your head pain is severe enough that it interferes with your ability to function.

Some people may also experience migraine with aura – visual disturbances that consist of bright spots, flashing lights, or moving lines. In some cases, auras cause a temporary loss of vision. These visual disturbances occur about 30 minutes before the migraine begins and can last for 15 minutes.

Most migraine attacks last about 4 hours; however, they can last for three days up to a week if they’re not treated or don’t respond to treatment.

What causes migraines?

The causes of migraine are not clear, but experts believe that the condition is due to “abnormal” brain activity that affects nerve signaling and chemicals and blood vessels in the brain. It is also believed that migraine has a hereditary link as it often runs in the family. This means that you are more likely to experience migraine if someone in your family is diagnosed with it.

Certain external factors can also trigger a migraine attack. These triggers include:

  • Emotional: such as stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Physical: such as tiredness or tension, particularly in the neck and shoulders
  • Hormonal: some women experience migraine around the time of their period
  • Dietary: missing a meal, drinking alcohol or caffeinated drinks, and eating certain foods such as chocolate or cheese
  • Environmental: such as bright lights or a stuffy atmosphere
  • Medicines: such as sleeping pills and contraceptive pills

How to Diagnose Migraine?

There is no specific blood test or scans that can tell your doctor whether your head pain is due to migraine. The only way to diagnose a migraine is to piece together the information about your symptoms and identify patterns over time.

Aside from the specifics of your symptoms, your doctor will need to get information about your response to current and previous treatments, your family history, and how your head pain affects your daily functioning and quality of life. A thorough assessment will also include a general medical and neurological physical exam.

What are the treatment options for migraine?

There is no absolute cure for migraine because the disease is still not fully understood, but treatments are available to effectively manage the condition.

Your treatment plan may include a combination of:

  • over-the-counter medications to relieve pain
  • prescription migraine medications to help reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of attacks before they occur
  • prescription medications to help with nausea or vomiting
  • hormone therapy if migraines seem to occur in relation to your menstrual cycle
  • counseling
  • alternative care, which may include meditation, acupressure, or acupuncture
  • lifestyle adjustments, including stress management and avoiding migraine triggers

Remember that the right treatment for you will depend on different factors such as the type of your migraine, your symptoms, frequency, and severity of the attacks. It will also depend on your medical history. Therefore, it is necessary that you seek the advice of your doctor for the right treatment plan.

What are the other ways to relieve the symptoms?

Aside from the tips mentioned above, you can also do few things at home to help relieve your symptoms and/or avoid further aggravation of it.

  • Lie down in a quiet, darkroom.
  • Massage your scalp or temples.
  • Place a cold cloth over your forehead or behind your neck.

What are the ways to prevent a migraine attack?

If you have been diagnosed with migraine, following the tips below, from healthline.com, can help you prevent a future migraine attack.

  • Learn the foods, smells, and situations that trigger your migraine attacks and avoid those things when possible.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Avoid skipping meals when possible.
  • Focus on quality sleep. A good night’s sleep is important for overall health.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Make it a priority to reduce stress in your life.
  • Invest time and energy in developing relaxation skills.
  • Exercise regularly.


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  • https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/headache-disorders
  • https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/what-is-migraine/
  • https://www.brainfacts.org/diseases-and-disorders/neurological-disorders-az/diseases-a-to-z-from-ninds/migraine
  • https://headaches.org/2005/08/12/facts-about-migraine/
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/migraine#prevention