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Published on Jul 23, 2019
Migraines are more than just headaches. They’re pre-headaches, post-headaches, sensitivities, nausea, fatigue, and can even bring on food cravings. But most of all they are painful and frustrating for those who suffer from them. For years they were misunderstood, but now we know it comes down to two main things, your genes and your brain.
Migraines are a result of brain dysfunction. It is a problem that originates in the brain itself and is an abnormality with pain processing. There are four stages to the migraine, and only one is the headache itself.
A person starts out experiencing prodrome, this stage can last an entire day and can include yawning, trouble concentrating, increased urination, and cravings for things like chocolate. Then comes the aura, which means the migraine sufferer will see light spots, jagged lines, things like that in their vision or people might have a sensory aura like a pins and needles tingling sensation up one limb. This can last 5 to 60 minutes and is followed almost immediately by a headache.
People then can experience a headache hangover of sorts, or a postdrome, which is somewhat of a recovery phase.
Genes play a role in migraines. There are migraine causing genes and you can be genetically predisposed to having painful migraine headaches. Research has found that a reduction in a protein called CGRP, or calcitonin gene-related peptide, has been shown to correlate with migraine improvement and this research has led to more effective treatment for those who experience migraines. ____________________ SICK is a new series that looks at how diseases actually work inside our body. We'll be visiting medical centers and talking to top researchers and doctors to uncover the mysteries of viruses, bacteria, fungi and our own immune system. Come back every Tuesday for a new episode and let us know in the comments which diseases you think we should cover next. ____________________