Migraine (from the Greek words hemi, meaning half, and kranion, meaning skull) is a debilitating condition characterized by moderate to severe headaches, and nausea. It is about three times more common in women than in men.
The typical migraine headache is unilateral pain (affecting one half of the head) and pulsating in nature and lasting from 4 to 72 hours; symptoms include nausea, vomiting, photophobia (increased sensitivity to light), phonophobia (increased sensitivity to sound); the symptoms are generally aggravated by routine activity.Approximately one-third of people who suffer from migraine headaches perceive an aura—unusual visual, olfactory, or other sensory experiences that are a sign that the migraine will soon occur.
Initial treatment is with analgesics for the headache, an antiemetic for the nausea, and the avoidance of triggering conditions. The cause of migraine headache is unknown; the most common theory is a disorder of the serotonergic control system.
Studies of twins indicate a 60- to 65-percent genetic influence upon their propensity to develop migraine headaches.Moreover, fluctuating hormone levels indicate a migraine relation: 75 percent of adult patients are women, although migraine affects approximately equal numbers of prepubescent boys and girls; propensity to migraine headache is known to disappear during pregnancy, although in some women migraines may become more frequent during pregnancy