A migraine headache is a form of vascular headache. Migraine headache is caused by vasodilatation (enlargement of blood vessels) that causes the release of chemicals from nerve fibres that coil around the large arteries of the brain. Enlargement of these blood vessels stretches the nerves that coil around them and causes the nerves to release chemicals. The chemicals cause inflammation, pain, and further enlargement of the artery. The increasing enlargement of the arteries magnifies the pain.
Migraine attacks commonly activate the sympathetic nervous system in the body. This activation causes many of the symptoms associated with migraine attacks such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Sympathetic activity also delays emptying of the stomach into the small intestine and thereby prevents oral medications from entering the intestine and being absorbed hence why they tend not to help with migraine type headaches.
- Intense throbbing or pounding pain often felt in the head, forehead or back of the eye
- Pain is one sided however in a third of cases and be bilateral
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea
- Light and sound sensitivity; suffers often prefer dark and quiet rooms