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Woman suffering from migraine

The Insider’s Guide to Migraines

“Oh, my aching head!”

Dull, throbbing pain, often located on one side of the head, could be more than just a headache, it could be a migraine. According to the National Headache Foundation, an estimated 29.5 million people in the United States suffer from migraines.

If you’ve experienced a migraine in the past, you know that it can encompass many different symptoms and can evolve over time. Each person is different in what symptoms are experienced and how long they last.

“With migraines, all bets are off,” said Advance ER physician Dr. Michael Chiang. “There can be many different symptoms and severity. One person’s migraine can be another person’s sinus headache. But what we do know is a migraine usually comes with a sensitivity to light, sound or smells; is located in one area of the head; and is pounding with a moderate to severe pain level.”

What are migraine symptoms?

  • Eye pain
  • Pulsing, pounding, throbbing pain
  • Pain on one side of head
  • Neck pain
  • Vision changes – aura or seeing spots, lines, blind spots or flashing lights
  • Weakness on one side of body
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Sensitivity to smells
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Pain increases with physical activity

What can trigger a migraine?

While the exact causes are not usually known, here are some common factors that can set off a migraine episode:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Certain foods like chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Loud noises or other stimuli
  • Perfume
  • Changes in weather

What are migraine treatments?

When a migraine is beyond tolerance, Advance ER stocks pain relievers and medications that might help.

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • Prescription medication is available from the “triptan” family of pain relievers. Anti-inflammatory medication may provide relief.
  • Preventative medication might include: anti-depressants, blood pressure meds, anti-seizure meds, magnesium or riboflavin.

Otherwise, you may find relief with these activities:

  • Muscle relaxation techniques such as: yoga or biofeedback
  • Acupuncture
  • Dietary changes – avoid trigger foods
  • Exercise – could help in preventing migraines
  • Stable sleep patterns

What can I do if my migraine is really bad?

“Migraines can often be managed with medication,” said Dr. Chiang. “And people who are used to getting migraines develop coping techniques, but at the end of the day, all you really want is relief from the constant pain. That’s where we come in.”

Advance ER is open 24/7 when the pain becomes unbearable.

Advance ER. The right care at the right place at the right time.

Meet Dr. Chiang:

Michael Chiang, M.D., is the Managing Partner and Director of SPECIALIST NOWSM at Advance ER.

Dr. Chiang graduated from Indiana University School of Medicine, and completed his residency from UCLA. He is board-certified and a member of the American College of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Chiang has been practicing emergency medicine for two decades and sees patients of all ages for emergency health care.

He previously served as the Chief of Emergency Medicine at the nationally renowned The Heart Hospital at Baylor Plano.