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Migraine Headaches

About the Condition

A migraine is an intense, throbbing headache that may be accompanied by nausea or dizziness. A migraine can last from hours to days.


A typical migraine results in moderate to severe pain. This pain is often felt on only one side of the head. The pain may interfere with a person's activities. Symptoms may also include nausea and scented sensitivity to light and sound. Some people see sparkling flashes of light, spots, or dazzling winds before a migraine. These are called "visual auras."

Common Causes

Much about migraines isn't understood. Many researchers believe that migraine can be caused by a change in hormone levels in the brain. Migraines can be triggered by stress, bright lights, and certain smells. They can also be caused by medication, and by getting too low or too much sleep. Certain foods may trigger migraines. These include alcohol, aged cheeses, chocolate, and foods containing aspartame or MSF (monosodium glutamate).

Treatment Options

Migraines may be treated with pain-relieving medication and with rest in a darkened room. People who experience migraines regularly may also take medication such as beta-blockers or anti-histamines. These can reduce the frequency and severity of the headaches.

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