ID: 131
Category: General
CreatedBy: 1
UpdatedBy: 1
createdon: 14 Jul 2017
updatedon: 05 Apr 2023

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Author: Khoa Tran
Published Jul 14, 2017
Updated Apr 05, 2023

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Etymology and Pronunciation

Migraine (my-grain)
migraine - French for "severe headache"
Another possible origin for the word is: hemicrania - Latin for "pain in half of the head"

hemicrania (hem-ee-krey-nee-uh)
hemi - Greek for "half"
kranion - Greek for "skull"

History of Migraine

In ancient times, migraine was often attributed to supernatural causes, such as demonic possession or divine punishment. The Greek physician Hippocrates, often referred to as the "father of modern medicine" was the first to describe the symptoms of migraine in medical terms in the 5th century BCE. He referred to the condition as "hemicrania" meaning "half the head" and described it as a throbbing pain that was typically felt on one side of the head. Hippocrates also noted that people with migraines often experienced other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. He believed that the condition was caused by an imbalance of bodily fluids, known as "humors" and recommended treatments such as bloodletting and purging to restore balance.

Throughout the centuries, there were many attempts to understand the cause of migraine, but progress was slow due to the lack of scientific knowledge and limited tools for medical investigation. It wasn't until the late 19th century that researchers began to make significant progress in understanding the underlying mechanisms of the condition.

One of the key figures in the history of migraine research was the English physician Edward Liveing, who published a groundbreaking book on the subject in 1873. Liveing described the different types of migraine and proposed that the condition was caused by changes in blood flow to the brain. Liveing observed that some people with migraines experienced an aura, a period of visual disturbance that often precedes the onset of a headache. He hypothesized that the aura was caused by changes in blood flow to the brain, which triggered a wave of electrical activity in the neurons. He recognized that there were different types of migraines, each with their own set of symptoms and triggers. He described migraines with and without auras, as well as other variants such as "sick headache" and "ophthalmic migraine".

Other researchers built on Liveing's work, and by the early 20th century, medical researchers had developed a more comprehensive understanding of the condition. They identified the role of the trigeminal nerve in migraine and developed treatments that targeted the underlying causes of the condition, such as vasoconstrictors to reduce blood flow to the brain.

In 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Botox as a treatment for chronic migraine. Botox (Botulinum toxin) has been shown to be an effective treatment option for mitigating chronic migraines by blocking the release of certain chemicals in the brain that are involved in the pain response, reducing the frequency and severity of migraine headaches. It's important to note that Botox is not effective for all types of migraines.

Modern Understanding of Migraine

Migraine is a type of headache that can cause severe and recurring pain, often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, photophobia (light sensitivity), phonophobia (sound sensitivity), and visual or sensory aura. The headache is usually one-sided and described as pulsating or throbbing, ranging from moderate to severe in intensity. Migraines can also cause neck pain, fatigue, dizziness, and sensitivity to light and sound.

There are two main types of migraine: episodic and chronic. Episodic migraines are occasional headaches that happen less than 15 days a month, while chronic migraines occur more frequently and for a longer period of time. 

The exact cause of migraines is not known, but factors such as stress, hormonal changes, weather changes, certain foods and drinks (especially alcohol), and sleep patterns can trigger migraines in some people.

Causes of Migraine

Migraine is a complex neurological condition that can have a variety of different causes. Some of the most common causes of migraines include:

- Genetics: Migraines tend to run in families, suggesting that there may be a genetic component to the condition.
- Hormonal changes: Changes in estrogen levels can trigger migraines in some people, particularly in women who experience migraines around the time of their menstrual cycle.
- Environmental triggers: Certain environmental factors, such as bright lights, loud noises, strong smells, or changes in weather patterns, can trigger migraines in some people.
- Stress: Emotional or physical stress can trigger migraines in some people, although the relationship between stress and migraines is not fully understood.
- Sleep disturbances: Lack of sleep or changes in sleep patterns can trigger migraines in some people.
- Dietary triggers: Certain foods or drinks, such as alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, or foods containing MSG, can trigger migraines in some people.
- Medications: Some medications, such as oral contraceptives and blood pressure medications, can trigger migraines in some people.
- Other medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or sleep apnea, can increase the risk of developing migraines.

Treatments for Migraine

The most effective treatment approach will depend on the individual and the severity and frequency of their migraines. Some common treatments for migraines include:

- Over-the-counter pain relief: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin, can help relieve mild to moderate migraine pain.
- Prescription medications: Triptans and ergotamines are prescription medications that can be used to relieve moderate to severe migraine pain. Other prescription medications, such as beta-blockers, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants, may also be used to prevent migraines or reduce their frequency.
- Botox injections: Injections of Botox (Botulinum toxin) can be an effective treatment for chronic migraines.
- Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle changes, such as getting regular exercise, reducing stress, getting enough sleep, and avoiding triggers, can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.
- Alternative therapies: Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, biofeedback, or massage, may help relieve migraine pain for some people.
- Nutritional supplements: Some studies have suggested that certain nutritional supplements, such as magnesium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), or Coenzyme Q10, may help reduce the frequency of migraines.
- Behavioral therapies: Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or relaxation techniques, can help reduce stress and prevent migraines.

It's important to work with a healthcare provider to develop an individualized treatment plan for managing migraines. Treatment options may need to be adjusted over time based on the individual's response to therapy.


Headache on one side of the head
Severe headache that doesn't go away
Sensitivity to light (photophobia)

Confirmation Tests

- Physical examination

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