Migraine During Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, you’re no doubt experiencing new aches and pains. If you’re also one of the millions of pregnant women who experience migraines, you might be glad to know that pregnancy eases migraine headache symptoms for many women. Migraine headaches are a type of vascular headache that results from blood vessels dilating in the brain. These are different from stress or tension headaches. It is also normal to experience your first migraine during pregnancy.
Causes and symptoms
Exactly what causes migraine headaches isn’t known. But migraines appear to involve changes in nerve pathways, neurochemicals, and blood flow in the brain. Researchers believe that overly excited brain cells stimulate the release of chemicals. These chemicals irritate blood vessels on the brain’s surface. That, in turn, causes blood vessels to swell and stimulate the pain response. Estrogen is thought to play a role in migraines. That’s why pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause often change a woman’s pattern of migraine headaches. The neurotransmitter serotonin also appears to have a key role in migraines.
A migraine usually starts as a dull ache and then eventually becomes a throbbing, constant, and pulsating pain in the temples, in front of the head, or base of the head. Migraines are sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Some people may experience an aura as well. An aura is wavy or jagged lines or dots of flashing lights. You may also experience tunnel vision or blind spots.
Headaches can be caused by a pregnancy complication called preeclampsia. So your doctor may evaluate you for that condition before making a diagnosis of migraine. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter products and natural supplements. Also, let your neurologist know whether anyone in your family has had migraines. The doctor often can diagnose migraine from a headache diary and your medical history. CT scans and other radiology tests to rule out other causes of your headaches aren’t usually advised in pregnancy. That’s because of the potential risks to the fetus.
Keep a headache diary: This diary should include when the headache happened, what “triggered” it, and how long it lasted. If you keep a log of your headaches, you can learn what triggers them and therefore avoid those things.
Common triggers may include but are not limited to:
Triggers are different for everyone. That is why it is important for you to keep a headache diary.
Self-care and meditation
Your first line of defence against migraine headaches is a healthy lifestyle and self-care. Here are some tips to help you manage migraines during pregnancy:
- Avoid your known triggers, such as specific foods, as much as possible.
- Keep a predictable schedule of meals and snacks.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Get plenty of rest.
Medications for Migraines
If you’re pregnant — or planning to get pregnant soon — your doctor will generally advise you to stay off medications unless they’re needed. Together, you’ll have to weigh the potential effects of a drug on your unborn baby. In some cases, a decision will need to be made based on scant or inconclusive research into a particular drug.
Acute Migraine Treatment
Acute treatment aims to stop a migraine attack after its first signs appear.
Pain relievers, also called analgesics, may help ease the intense pain of migraines.
Other medications may be prescribed for relief of specific symptoms of migraine during pregnancy. For instance, antiemetics help soothe the vomiting and nausea that can accompany a migraine. But many of the drugs typically used for migraine haven’t been adequately studied in pregnancy, so their safety or risk to the fetus has not been determined.
Preventive Migraine Treatment
If you have severe, recurring attacks, preventive treatment may stop future attacks or reduce their severity. Many of the drugs used for prevention were originally used for other conditions, such as high blood pressure.
See a neurologist experienced in treating pregnant women. She’ll prescribe medicine in the lowest dose needed to help you and likely recommend some kind of talk therapy. Relatively safe medications for migraines include beta-blockers, such as propranolol and labetalol, as well as calcium channel blockers such as verapamil.
Some research shows that women who have migraines during their pregnancy may also be at increased risk for hypertension, preeclampsia and other vascular disorders. So if you have symptoms that include sudden dramatic weight gain or puffiness in your face or hands, you can book an appointment with Nikhil Hospitals. Nikhil Neurology Hospital is a tertiary care hospital, well known for our best neurology treatment, intended to serve the patients with the utmost care, compassion and commitment. You can trust them.