Medical Definition of migraine
1: a condition marked by recurring moderate to severe headache with throbbing pain that usually lasts from four hours to three days, typically begins on one side of the head but may spread to both sides, is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light or sound, and is sometimes preceded by an aura and is often followed by sleep ◆Migraine tends to occur in more than one member of a family and is of uncertain origin though attacks appear to be associated with dilation of intracranial blood vessels and release of serotonin and other inflammatory substances. <Migraine is a common disorder that can severely affect patients' quality of life and daily function. The patients typically have attacks of unilateral, pulsating, severe or moderately severe headache aggravated by routine physical activity …—The New England Journal of Medicine, 1 Aug. 1991> <Migraine affects three times as many women as men.—The Journal of the American Medical Association, 16 Dec. 1998> <About 20 percent of migraine sufferers experience an aura as the first symptom of an attack. The aura may be a pulsing star of light, or a dance of geometric forms across the visual field …—Natalie Angier, The New York Times, 14 Sept. 1993> <Common migraine, which accounts for four-fifths of migraine, produces fewer fireworks but can be even more painful. It lacks the warning aura and more often involves both sides of the head. Like the classic form, it strikes at intervals— several times a week to several times a year.—Edwin Kiester Jr., Smithsonian, December 1987> <Approximately 20% of migraineurs may experience acephalgic attacks of migraine at one time or another. Indeed, that various symptoms can occur in the absence of any headache has been noted for some time; in fact, visual phenomena were described as early as the 12th century.—Donald M. Pedersen et al., The Journal of Family Practice, 1 May 1991>
2: an episode or attack of migraine <Most patients use a class of drugs known as “triptans,” such as Imitrex, to relieve occasional migraines. But triptans don't work for 20% to 30% of patients.—Tara Parker-Pope, The Wall Street Journal, 17 Aug. 2004> <Lynn Goldstein, a dietitian at Weill Cornell, advises patients to remove suspected “trigger” foods from their diet for a period of time and monitor how their migraines are affected.—Food & Fitness Advisor, May 2008>—called also
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