Migraine

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Migraine is a debilitating condition characterized by moderate to severe headaches, and nausea, about 3 times more common in women than in men.[1] The word migraine was borrowed from Old French migraigne (originally as "megrim", but respelled in 1777 on a contemporary French model). The French term derived from a vulgar pronunciation of the Late Latin word hemicrania, itself based on Greek hemikrania, from Greek roots for "half" and "skull".[2]

The typical migraine headache is unilateral pain (affecting one half of the head) and pulsating in nature, lasting from 4 to 72 hours; symptoms include nausea, vomiting, photophobia (increased sensitivity to light), phonophobia (increased sensitivity to sound), and is aggravated by routine activity.[3][4] Approximately one-third of people who suffer from migraine headaches perceive an aura—unusual visual, olfactory, or other sensory experiences that are a sign that the migraine will soon occur.[5]

Initial treatment is with analgesics for the headache, an antiemetic for the nausea, and the avoidance of triggering conditions. The cause of migraine headache is unknown; the most common theory is a disorder of the serotonergic control system.

Studies of twins indicate a 60 to 65 percent genetic influence upon their propensity to develop migraine headache.[6][7] Moreover, fluctuating hormone levels indicate a migraine relation: 75 percent of adult patients are women, although migraine affects approximately equal numbers of prepubescent boys and girls; propensity to migraine headache is known to disappear during pregnancy, although in some women migraines may become more frequent during pregnancy.[8]

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