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Nearly everyone gets headaches. But while some are tension headaches or headaches caused by a cold. Migraine headaches tend to be severe and recurrent and are often accompanied by nausea. What begins as a pain on one side of the head may spread to both sides. Most migraine headaches are caused by a change in the blood flow pattern to the brain.

Triggered by stress or other factors, arteries supplying blood to the brain may constrict. Serotonin, a chemical may also have a role to play since it is released from nerve fibers that coil around the blood vessels. To tackle this, certain arteries within the brain may dilate to accommodate better oxygen supply. This dilation may result in migraine headaches. While anyone can get migraine headaches, they are more common in women.

Causes of migraine

Often changes in weather or altitude can cause migraine headaches. If you have irregular sleeping patterns (too much or too little), it may be the cause for migraine headaches. An interruption of your regular sleep pattern may bring on a headache. Strong odors, bright lights and loud noises are known to be triggers for a migraine attack. Fasting is yet another triggering factor for migraine headache. Women may experience migraine headaches on account of their menstrual cycle, birth control pills or hormones. Women who are on oral contraceptive pills are more likely to develop migraine headaches as a side effect.

Symptoms of Migraine

  • Throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stiff neck
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Visual hallucinations such as zigzag lines and flashing lights
  • Tiredness, irritability and confusion
  • Mood swings
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Diarrhea and increased urination

Treating Migraine

Medication to treat migraines can range from ergots like ergotamine or triptans like sumatriptan and rizatriptan. Sometimes isometheptenes are also prescribed. Ergotamines narrow the blood vessels to reduce the throbbing pain. Triptans perform the dual function of narrowing the blood vessels as well as balancing the chemicals in the brain. Eat a healthy diet and keep your weight under check. Obese people are more likely to suffer migraine headaches. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can bring on severe migraines.

Some anti migraine drugs work by constricting blood vessels in the brain. These drugs should not be take by patients with coronary heart disease or circulatory problems. Sometimes migraine attacks may not respond to the treatment. If the headache lasts longer than 3 days it could be a condition called as Status Migrainosus which may call for a different level of treatment involving hospitalization as the patient might suffer dehydration owing to nausea and vomiting.

Alternative Treatment For Migraine: Some herbal remedies have been reported to be effective against migraine in some cases. Feverfew - Tanacetum Parthenium, a herb reduces the intensity of a migraine attack as well as its frequency. However it may not alleviate the pain once it occurs. Petadolex - a preparation made from Butterbur root - Petasites Hybridus is another herbal remedy to control migraine.


Sumatriptan, part of the family of drugs called as triptans is prescribed for the treatment of Migraine and cluster headaches. Migraine headaches are thought to be the result of dilation of blood vessels in the head. Sumatriptan causes constriction of the blood vessels thus relieving Migraine. Triptans are technically abortive migraine medications. However, Sumatriptan does not prevent or reduce the number of migraine attacks. There is another 'triptan' drug which has slightly less side effects than Sumatriptan - Rizatriptan.

Dosage and Administration: Starting dosage may be 25 mg or at the discretion of the physician. However, the Physician might want the patient to take the first dosage at his office to monitor any adverse heart events. Normal dosage is 25 mg to 100 mg or as prescribed by the Physician. Maximum dose in any 24 hours should not exceed 300 mg orally. Do not use Sumatriptan concomitantly with Ergotamine containing preparations.

Safety and efficacy has not been proved for patients over 65 years or for children.

Contraindications: The use of Sumatriptan is contraindicated in hypersensitivity, ischemic heart disease or previous myocardial infraction, Prinzmetal's angina, coronary vasospasm and controlled hyper tension. Sumatriptan should not be used unless there is a clear diagnosis of Migraine. Before use, exclude underlying cardiac disease especially in patients with risk factors. Chest symptoms may occur which mimic angina but are rarely found to be the result of vasospasm. Vasospasm may result in arrhythmia, ischemia or myocardial infarction. This drug is to be avoided for patients with impaired renal or hepatic functions.

Sumatriptan should not be administered along with ergot type migraine medications, or with MAO inhibitors. Sumatriptan and Ergotamine together can cause prolonged spasm of the blood vessels. It is essential that the use of these two medications should be separated by at least 24 hours.

Side Effects of Sumatriptan: Pain, tingling sensation, heaviness or pressure in the chest region which may be transient. Rarely severe flushing, dizziness, Paresthesia ( unpleasant and abnormal tingling or burning in the hands, arms, feet or legs) weakness, fatigue, drowsiness may occur. Transient rise in blood pressure may occur.


Vestibular imbalance, an imbalance in the inner part of the ear is a major cause of vertigo. There are health conditions that contribute as well certain factors that can result in vestibular imbalance.

  • Anemia and migraine can trigger vertigo.

  • Signals possibility of stroke, brain tumor, multiple sclerosis, seizures or a bleed in the brain. Neck ailments like severe spondylosis.

  • Cardiovascular disorders like low blood pressure, heart rhythms and valve diseases.

  • Arthritic pains can contribute to aggravating vertigo.

  • Inflammation or infection of the inner ear that aid with balance and sense movement.

  • Viral illnesses like common cold and flu.

  • Severe migraines, Meniere's disease that causes a buildup of fluid in the inner ear and extends a feeling of ringing in the ear.

  • Decreased blood flow to the brain.

  • Certain medications can damage the ear and lead to vertigo.

  • Psychological disturbances, post-traumatic vertigo, and post-partum vertigo can cause an off balance feeling from time to time.

Intake of certain medications like anti-depressants, anti-seizure drugs, drugs to control high blood pressure, sedatives and tranquilizers may cause sudden dizziness. General health problems such as thyroid, vitamin deficiency, diabetes, anemia, and immune system diseases are other possible causes.

If dizziness or vertigo, dizziness or lightheadedness, dizziness or disequillibrium persists, you should seek medical attention immediately. Monitor and record the symptoms. Take it along and explain in detail to the medical practitioner. If constant dizziness is associated with chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, changes in vision or speech, serious head injury, leg or arm weakness, loss of consciousness that lasts for few minutes, it is best to seek emergency medical attention. It may imply a serious health condition. An in-depth diagnosis is urgently required.

Diagnostic tests that may be required include measuring blood pressure, ECG, hearing tests, neurological tests, balance testing and MRI. Many disorders can be treated with medication, surgery, diet, a change in lifestyle, or a combination of these.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: March 22, 2018