Migraine is a neurological condition affecting approximately 10% of mankind, however it occurs up to three times more frequently in women than in men. The term migraines stems from the Ancient Green word hemikrania for “half skull”, which was transferred to Old French and transitioned to the English modern term. Migraines are characterized mainly by unilateral, pulsating headaches perceived as unusually strong in comparison to common headaches by patients. Another common symptom of migraine is the aura, manifesting itself as blurred vision and a light aura surrounding objects. In some patients, migraine may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting and other rather rare symptoms.
Migraine attacks are commonly treated symptomatically. The main forms of treatment consist of strong medication against the headache itself, and as the circumstances require by antiemetic medication, too. Depending on further symptoms, medication must be individually decided on by the treating doctor. Complications tend to occur rarely, however they make it necessary for the patient to be admitted to hospital for intensified treatment. One of the most common complications is a chronic migraine attack, which either lasts longer than 72 hours or returns after about four hours of rest, hardly allowing the patient to regenerate after the foregoing attack.
The causes of migraine have not been determined so far. It is considered to stem from a combination of genetic predisposition and a trigger – only then can a migraine attack come into being. A common theory claims it to be a disorder of the serotonergic control system. Women seem tp be affected more often due to fluctuating hormone levels, which are considered a powerful trigger, too – however they hardly occur in men. Studies with twins have so far been able to determinate genetic disposition as a main underlying cause, meaning that parents with migraine attacks may pass their disposition on to their children.
The severity of migraine attacks does not necessarily stay the same during life. Some young women suffer from migraines until their early twenties or their first pregnancy, and then due to regulated hormone levels they no longer get migraines. Some however experience worse exacerbations of migraine during pregnancy which often persevere until years after childbirth. Men, too, can experience fluctuating levels of severity during their phases of life, which is probably based on varying hormonal levels, too.