Neurologist treatment for migraines
Migraine headaches are prevalent in the general population. They often present with other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound, and face numbness.
While researchers are still unsure of the exact causes that trigger migraines, it is thought that the activation of ‘trigeminovascular system’ causes the release of various vasodilators, especially calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) that induces pain response. At the same time, decreased levels of neurotransmitter serotonin have been observed in migraineurs. There also seems to be a genetic component to this disease. In other words, having a family member with migraine headaches increases your risk of developing this condition.
In one study, researchers found that an imbalance in the neurotransmitters of the brain can trigger migraines. They also identified serotonin as the most disrupted chemical, explaining the effectiveness of antidepressants in treating migraines – they increase serotonin levels in the brain.
Migraines have dozens of triggers that change from one person to another. Identifying these triggers is important to prevent severe forms.
In this article, we will discuss the warning signs that accompany migraines, as well as the role of a neurologist in addressing this condition.
When do migraines become serious?
While most people experience migraine headaches at some point in their life, there are still some warning signs that you should be familiar with.
Here are the signs and symptoms that require medical attention:
- Describing the headache as the worst of your life
- Speech problems
- Mental confusion
- Inability to move your arms or feet
- Inability to feel your arms or feet
- Vision abnormalities (e.g., double vision)
- Having trouble standing up
These symptoms suggest that you might have a more serious underlying condition, such as a stroke. However, we should note that most cases of migraine headaches are benign and do not reflect any underlying disease.
When to consult a neurologist?
Consulting with a neurologist depends on the frequency and severity of your migraine headaches. For instance, if you have a continuous headache that’s negatively impacting your quality of life, it might be a good idea to get the help of a neurologist.
Other scenarios that require a neurologic evaluation are:
- Sudden onset of headaches
- Specific pattern of the headache (e.g., start off early in the morning)
- Mild vision changes
- Seizures along with your headache
The diagnostic protocol of migraine headaches
Similar to other ailments, the diagnosis of migraines mandates a multistep process that includes:
- Taking your medical history
- Performing a comprehensive physical exam
- Ordering some laboratory and imaging studies
Each of these steps will allow your neurologist to gather some useful data about your health status and the triggers of your headaches.
Here are some of the tests available in and done through our clinic:
CT scan – CT scan allows your neurologist to evaluate for any anatomical abnormalities. For instance, bleeding, tumors, distorted anatomy, and fractures can all be detected by the CT scan.
MRI – MRI is superior to the CT scan when it comes to looking at the brain tissue. If you recently endured a brain injury, the MRI shows characteristic signs that facilitate the diagnosis.
EEG – EEG test records the brain’s electrical activity to diagnose abnormal electrical changes of the brain and help with diagnosis of seizures and epilepsy.
Eye exam – Examining your eyes is part of the comprehensive neurological evaluation and will help identify any headache associated nerve palsies or other intraocular findings.
Lab tests – While relatively uncommon, ordering laboratory tests, such as urinalysis and complete blood count (CBC), may be useful in diagnosing certain migraine-inducing illnesses.
Migraine headaches are very common and can be disruptive for some patients. Fortunately, we offer comprehensive management of migraine headaches at our neurology center.
After your initial visit, and once the exact cause and mechanism of your headache have been identified, our certified Neurologist will prescribe the right medication or treatment plan for you, and will see you regularly to make sure your symptoms are adequately controlled.
To get the best possible treatment plan for your headache, contact us by clicking here.