Migraine: a pulsating headache affecting half skull

Migraine: Symptoms, Causes & Risk factors

Migraine is a common disorder often marked by periodic, unusual unilateral pulsating headaches, which usually begins in childhood or early adult life, and it tends to recur with diminishing frequency in later life. It is also known as hemicrania, which means half skull as it affects half of the head (skull).

There are two closely related types of Migraine.

  • Classic Migraine
  • Common Migraine

Classic Migraine is one in which an aura or a sensation is felt only by the person and maybe preceded by an attack. The feeling (aura) could either be visual, olfactory, auditory, sensory, or taste hallucination.

An aura does not precede common Migraine.

Migraine Symptoms:

Before the onset, few people experience the following symptoms:

  • Mood changes
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty in thinking
  • Depression
  • Sleepiness
  • Hungry
  • Thirty
  • Frequent urination
  • Altered libido

Few people experience also experience the following symptoms:

  • Increased energy levels
  • Increased appetite especially for sweets
  • Clarity of thoughts

Symptoms during the attack:

  • The headache usually on one side of the head, but sometimes the problem is bilateral.
  • Nausea and vomiting, which may last for a day or two.
  • Sensitivity to light and noise.

Women during reproductive years experience a migraine at a higher rate, and the headache usually begins during premenstrual tension and fluid retention.

Many people also link their Migraine attack to indigestion caused by a particular food, exposure to bright light, or sometimes to change in air pressure.


  • Family history
  • Allergic hypersensitivity
  • Emotional disturbances

The aura which precedes migraine in cases of classical migraine is caused due to the reduction of regional cerebral blood flow in the posterior part of the cerebral hemisphere; usually, it is the same side of the headache.

Migraine Trigger points:
  • Hormonal changes, especially in women in their reproductive age.
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Beverages, which are rich in caffeine, such as tea and coffee.
  • Bright sunlight or bright lights.
  • Loud sounds
  • Strong odor
  • Lack of sleep
  • Intense physical exertion
  • Skipping meals
  • Certain medicines
  • Changes in air pressure
  • Excessive consumption of salt

Migraine Risk factors:

People at higher risk of developing this condition are:

  • People with a family history.
  • Children and young adults are at higher risk.
  • Women are at higher risk of developing this condition than men.
Migraine Complications:
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Sleeplessness
  • Vertigo
  • Rebound headache
  • Serotonin syndrome causes complications like agitation, confusion, diarrhea, twitching of muscles, and tachycardia.
  • Stomach ulcer in cases where the patient takes over the counter drugs or in cases of drug abuse.
  • It can also lead to migraine induced seizures.
  • Migrainous stroke
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Numbness



Patient care:

If a person has a migraine attack, he should relax in a quiet place.

It is essential to educate the patient with the techniques for coping with discomfort.

Take medicines as directed by your doctor.

Lifestyle changes to check symptoms:
  • Exercise regularly
  • Do not skip meals
  • Get proper sleep
  • Do not overexert
  • Reduce stress
  • Eat healthy food

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3 thoughts on “Migraine: a pulsating headache affecting half skull”

  1. Till date, I thought migraine happens to them who have a family history of the same. Thank you for highlighting other reasons like allergies and emotional disturbance.

    1. Migraine is often considered synonymous with a headache but it is not true. Headache is caused by the contraction of muscles between the head and neck, which can be dull to very severe. Headaches usually last from half an hour to a few hours.
      Whereas, migraine is a throbbing pain which lasts which is moderate to very severe and mostly affects the side and front of the head. Unlike, headache, migraine is preceded by an aura.
      The aura can be visual, auditory, psychological or physiological. Headaches are never preceded by an aura.
      Headaches are usually caused due to stress, anxiety, dehydration, hunger, smell, noise, sunlight, improper posture, noise, squinting, tiredness.
      Migraines are usually caused by some chemical reactions in the brain along with some triggering factors. In menstruating women, menstruation is considered as a triggering factor for migraines. A meal low in sugar or too high in sugar is also linked as a triggering factor for migraine.
      Headaches are usually better after sleep, unlike migraine which often starts in sleep.
      Headaches last for a few hours and are easily managed by over the counter drugs, whereas, migraines can last for a few days and needs proper to alleviate symptoms.

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