Migraine is a disorder associated with many symptoms, including, but not limited to, headache. There is a strong genetic component to migraine and it tends to run in families. It can also occur as a result of head injury, stroke, and meningitis.
The underlying mechanism of migraine is thought to be related to abnormalities with electrolyte channels in the brain cells and certain neurotransmitters in the brain. The most common symptom associated with migraine is the headache which is classically associated with some combination of nausea, sensitivity to light and sensitivity to sound. In addition, migraine may be associated with other symptoms such as visual changes, numbness, tingling, dizziness/vertigo, focal weakness, difficulty speaking and loss of consciousness. Migraine is not always associated with a headache and is frequently mistaken for stroke. In rare cases migraine can actually cause a stroke. Over time, migraine can evolve or transform into a chronic daily headache. Frequently, this results from inappropriate treatment of headaches or overuse of certain medications.
The vast majority of headaches are migraines. Most people go for years not seeking help or being misdiagnosed. Commonly, patients are told they have sinus headaches. Studies have shown that over 90% of people diagnosed with sinus headaches actually have migraine and are being treated inappropriately. Even those who are diagnosed correctly with migraine are not receiving proper therapy. Our knowledge of migraine has grown dramatically over the past several years. Unfortunately, it is difficult for non-neurologists to keep up with the changes that have occurred in migraine therapy.
It is also true, however, that some patients are incorrectly diagnosed with migraine. There are a number of medical conditions that cause headache and can be mistaken for migraine.
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