Chronic migraine is moderate to severe headache often accompanied with nausea. Migraine derives from two Greek words: hemi, meaning “half” and kranion, meaning “skull”. This health condition is therefore named after one of its most prominent symptoms: mild to severe pain that typically affects only one portion of the head. Chronic migraines are a bit more common in women. It is estimated that women are three times more likely to suffer from chronic migraines than men are. Women are possibly more prone to chronic migraines because of their fluctuating hormone levels. To support this thesis, let us note that 75 percent of all adult patients are actually women. Moreover, in the puberty, boys and girls are almost equally affected.
Signs and symptoms of chronic migraine
Typically, chronic migraine is characterized by pain that affects only one half of the head. Patients typically complain about the pulsating pain that may last very long. A standard migraine attack may last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. In most of the cases, patients will experience additional problems such as nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, increased sensitivity to sound and general malaise. Some of the affected patients, but still a minority, will experience auras along with other symptoms. About 20 to 30 percent of all patients experience migraines with aura. Aura is a neurological phenomenon that typically precedes or accompanies the attack. A headache usually begins within an hour of the end of the aura phase. Aura phase is usually described as a disturbance of vision that consists of flashes and white, black or rarely multicolored lights. Some of the patients describe their auras as episodes of blurred, shimmering or even cloudy visions. For them, an aura phase may look like they are seeing the world through the smoked glass. Other symptoms of aura phase may even include auditory, gustatory (taste) or olfactory (smell) hallucinations, vertigo, tingling or numbness of the body, and hypersensitivity to touch.
Diagnostic criteria for chronic migraine
Chronic migraine is diagnosed when the patients suffer a headache or some other type of tension or migraine-quality disturbance more frequent than 15 days per month for at least 3 months. Moreover, to become diagnosed with chronic migraine, patient has to experience pain and associated symptoms of migraine, without aura, more frequent than 8 days per month. In addition, to establish a firm diagnosis, doctors need to confirm that patient does not overuse any kind of medications, which may cause all of the classic symptoms of migraine.