Have you ever experienced recurring head pain and figured it was just another headache? You could be among the nearly 40 million US adults living with migraines.
At Brooks Plastic Surgery in Hollywood, Florida, Christopher Brooks, MD, and our care team frequently meet with patients who aren’t aware the discomfort they’re experiencing is caused by migraines.
Keep reading as we explain some of the telltale signs of migraines that are often misunderstood and the different ways we can help restore your quality of life.
1. You experience visual disturbances
Before a migraine hits, many people experience an “aura.” This refers to visual disturbances you perceive that can appear as flashing lights, zigzag patterns, or even temporary loss of vision.
This is because migraines aren’t just about pain—they're neurological events that can impact different senses, including vision. If you find your eyesight temporarily altered before a headache, it could point to a migraine.
2. You’re sensitive to lights and sounds
Ever felt a need to sit in a dark, quiet room during a headache? Heightened sensitivity to light (photophobia) and sound (phonophobia) are hallmark signs of migraines.
This sensitivity arises because of the hyper-responsiveness of your brain during a migraine episode. Normal lights and sounds can suddenly seem overbearing. Talk to your provider if this describes your experience.
3. Your headaches bring nausea or vomiting
Unlike standard headaches, migraines often bring gastrointestinal discomfort. This isn't just a random symptom.
Your trigeminal nerve, activated during migraines, releases substances that can cause inflammation in your brain. This inflammation can lead to symptoms like nausea or even vomiting.
4. One side of your head hurts more
Migraines tend to be localized, often described as a pulsating or throbbing pain. Therefore, though it isn’t universal, many migraine sufferers report pain predominantly on one side of their head.
This localized pain results from the way migraines develop, stemming from specific trigger points rather than generalized brain inflammation. If one side of your head hurts more during headaches, it could be a migraine.
5. Your head pain interferes with daily activities
A regular headache might be a nuisance, but a migraine can be debilitating. If you find yourself needing to lie down, unable to work, or even canceling plans because of your headaches, it’s a significant indicator that you’re struggling with migraines.
Treating migraine headaches
Finding the right treatment for your migraine can help restore your quality of life. Many different migraine treatments exist, and Dr. Brooks can help you discover the right one for you.
Lifestyle changes can be helpful in combating migraine headaches, including dietary changes, relaxation techniques and stress management, and improving sleep hygiene. Different medications are also available to help ease headache pain or prevent migraine headaches, including:
- Over-the-counter pain medications
- Nutritional supplements
- Prescription pain medications
- Antidepressants and anticonvulsants
- Botox® injections
- Migraine-specific medications, like Aimovig®
If your symptoms don’t respond to these types of migraine treatments, Dr. Brooks may recommend migraine headache surgery. This surgery begins with the identification of your migraine trigger points.
Trigger points refer to an area in your head where a blood vessel or sensory nerve is compressed. They vary for everyone, but the most common locations are in the forehead, temples, behind the eyes, and across the back of the skull.
Dr. Brooks diagnoses your unique trigger points, then performs nerve decompression surgery to reduce the pressure on the nerves related to your head pain. Everyone’s surgery is unique, but generally takes less than three hours to complete, and you can usually go home the same day.
About 92% of patients undergoing migraine surgery report a dramatic improvement in migraine symptoms, with about one-third saying their headaches go away completely—all without the side effects migraine medications can cause.
If you’re worried about migraine headaches, schedule a consultation at Brooks Plastic Surgery in Hollywood, Florida, for expert diagnosis and personalized migraine treatment recommendations.