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Migraine Headaches: Review

Migraine refers to a painful headache that is heralded by sensory reactions such as vomiting, light flashes, nausea, and amplified sensitivity to light. Research has revealed that genetics and environmental factors are two of the main predisposing factors with regard to migraine headaches (Tepper, 2004). The real cause has not yet been established even though research hints at imbalances in brain chemicals. Serotonin has been associated with migraines. Common triggers of migraine headaches include hormonal changes, consumption of certain foods, stress, physical factors, drinks, food additives, and certain medications (Green & Rothrock, 2005). Management of migraine involves alterations of lifestyle and use of medication. Treatment aims at preventing triggers that cause the migraines.

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Plan of care

A plan of care for the 24-year-old patient diagnosed with migraine headaches will include medication and alteration of lifestyle. The plan will be developed based on the patient’s frequency and severity of migraines, presence of other medical conditions that might alter the action of medication, and the effects of the migraines. Medications to be used are grouped into two classes namely pain relievers and migraine prevention medications. Pain relievers are taken during migraine attacks in order to stop symptoms. On the other hand, prevention medications are taken to prevent migraines by reducing their frequency and severity. Preventive medications are only prescribed to patients whose migraines affect their lives adversely. The type of drug administered will be determined by the patient’s tolerance to associated side effects and presence of other medical conditions. Examples of preventive medications include antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and beta-blockers (Tepper, 2004).

The patients will be required to alter her lifestyle in several ways in order to manage the migraines effectively. For example, the patient will be required to drink plenty of water, avoid salty and processed foods, practice regularly, and get adequate sleep. A daily headache log will include several things such as frequency of headaches, triggers, types of food consumed, types of drinks taken, numbers of hours spent in sleep, quantity of water consumed, frequency of physical exercise, and type of medication taken. Other things include number of daily attacks, length of each attack, severity of the attacks, effect of medication taken, and symptoms observed. The plan of care will involve use of body medications and lifestyle alterations for effective treatment.

Potential triggers

There are many potential triggers for migraines. They include allergic reactions, stress, smoking, alcohol, tension headaches, hormonal changes, food additives, sensory stimuli, changes in sleep patterns, medications, and bright lights (Green & Rothrock, 2005). Changes in levels of estrogen in women have been shown to trigger headaches in women with a history of migraines. This is worsened by use of certain medications such as oral contraceptives. Salty and processed foods also trigger migraines (Robert, 2009). Irregular sleep patterns trigger migraines if an individual gets inadequate sleep or sleeps too much (Griffith, 2002).

Migraine medications

Two common medications for migraines include Botulinum toxin A (Botox) and triptans such as eletriptan, sumaltriptan, and zolmitriptan. Botox prevents neuromuscular transmission by inhibiting release of acetylcholine (Griffith, 2002). The drug binds to acceptor sites on either motor or sympathetic terminals of nerve cells. This medication has several side effects that include neck pain, eyelid ptosis, worsening of migraines, and general body weakness (Robert, 2009). Triptans relieve migraines by reducing the diameter of blood vessels that carry blood to the brain. This alters the action of pain pathways thus reducing intensity of pain experienced during migraine attacks. Side effects of triptans include nausea, general body weakness, dizziness, and drowsiness (Robert, 2009).

References

Green, L., & Rothrock, J. (2005). Managing Your Headaches. New York: Springer.

Griffith, C. (2002). 50 Ways to Control Migraines: Practical, Everyday Tips to Empower Migraine Sufferers to Live a Headache-Free Life. New York: McGraw Hill Professional.

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Robert, T. (2009). Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. New York: HarperCollins.

Tepper, S. (2004). Understanding Migraine and Other Headaches. Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi.

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