A chronic migraine is a migraine headache that lasts for more than 15 days out of each month and continues for three months or more. A migraine headache is different from a regular headache because the blood vessels in the head expand instead of constrict. Some people with chronic migraines develop a migraine headache every day.
There are different types of pain caused from a chronic migraine as well as an array of symptoms. Many people with chronic migraines feel pain on one side of their head or behind one or both eyes. The pain usually is in a specific area and can be sharp or cause consistent throbbing. Some people with chronic migraine headaches feel symptoms such as light sensitivity, sensitivity to sound, nausea, vomiting and neck pain.
Patients who have a chronic migraine can sometimes experience an aura. An aura is a symptom that occurs when the person sees flashes of bright light and black or red spots. Some sufferers of migraines report that it is similar to a camera being flashed directly in the eye. An aura also can cause blurred vision.
Physicians will diagnose a patient with chronic migraines. Some doctors will perform a computed axial tomography (CAT) scan, blood test and other diagnostic tests to be sure that there are not other medical factors causing the constant migraines. Some migraine patients are sent to a neurologist, a doctor that specializes in neurology, for further medical testing.
There are treatment options for people with chronic migraines. One natural treatment for chronic migraines is for the patient to keep a migraine journal. The journal's purpose is to keep track of food intake, exercise, sleep patterns, menstrual cycle and daily weather. The journal is to help sufferers rule out any foods, sleep activity or other actions that might be triggering a chronic migraine.
Triggers for migraines might include wines or other alcohol or certain foods such as cheeses, sour cream, chocolate, some fish, aspartame and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Any changes in a person's menstrual cycle, sleep schedule or eating habits also can be factors. Other environmental triggers can be weather or air pressure changes or certain odors.
Other treatments might have to be prescribed by a doctor. These treatments include prescription medications that are used to try to prevent the occurrence of migraines such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, antiseizure medications and blood pressure medications. There also are many prescription medications that can be used at the onset of a migraine. Some chronic migraine patients are prescribed both types of medications to help control the frequency and severity of the migraine headaches.