Complex Migraine: Understanding the Diagnosis and Treatment Options Available


Migraines may disable people, causing them to miss school, work, family, social, and leisure activities. If you don’t have migraines, you probably know someone who does. Migraines affect almost 40 million people in the United States, including 28 million women and girls. This makes complex migraines the second most disabling condition in the world, after low back pain.

There are still some things that doctors don’t know about that make migraines happen. However, other clinicians define the migraine brain as hyperactive or super sensitive, meaning that it responds more strongly to external cues like stress or sleep disruption, resulting in migraine attacks.

Though there is currently no known cure for migraines, medicines, and lifestyle changes may help patients have fewer attacks and shorter, less intense episodes when they do occur.

What are Complex Migraines?

Migraine is a disease of the nervous system that causes repeated attacks of symptoms. These attacks are usually a headache, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, touch, smell, or sound, dizziness, trouble seeing, and tingling or numbness in the face, hands, or feet.

Skipping a meal, smoking, air pollution, or hormonal changes throughout the menstrual cycle might provoke migraine episodes. Most migraine attacks last between 4 and 72 hours, but with good treatment, they can last only a few hours. On the other hand, some migraines can last even longer than 72 hours.

Migraine attacks cause throbbing, severe pain, nausea, and increased sensitivity to light and sound, all of which can make it hard to do anything. But not every headache is the same.

Complex migraines, which affect certain individuals, don’t always manifest like regular migraines and can have more severe symptoms. Hemiplegic migraines, atypical migraines, and migraines with aura are all names for complex migraines.

Causes of Complex Migraines:

No one knows for sure what causes migraines of any kind, but genetics and the environment are thought to play a role. Migraine headache triggers might differ from person to person.

Among the many common causes of complex migraines are:

  • Particular foods (red wine, MSG, chocolate, dairy, alcohol, etc.)
  • Stimulation of the senses (loud music, bright lights, strong smells)
  • Feelings of unease or tension
  • Menstrual cramps and irritability
  • Variability in the Weather
  • Too much or too little sleep
  • Caffeine (sudden alterations to typical consumption) (sudden changes to normal intake)

Some other common things that cause migraines are:

  • Food and drinks: Some foods and drinks (see list below) can cause migraines. Migraines can also be caused by not drinking enough water, dieting, or skipping meals.
  • Changes in hormones: Some women get complex migraines when they have their periods, go through menopause, or use hormonal birth control or hormone replacement therapy.
  • Stress: Stress can lead to headaches. Feeling overwhelmed at home or at work is a sign of stress. But you can also get stressed out if you work out too much or don’t get enough sleep.
  • Migraines can be brought on by loud sounds, bright lights (like flashing lights or sunlight), or strong smells (like paint fumes or some perfumes).
  • Medicines: Some medicines can make migraines happen. Talk to your doctor if you think your medicine might be causing your headaches. Your doctor might be able to give you something else.
  • Illness: Infections like the cold or flu can give people complex migraines, especially kids.

Overuse of medicine might result in a rebound headache. Therefore it’s vital to limit your usage. A healthcare provider can advise you on the optimal dose of each medicine.

Do not attempt self-treatment for a complex migraine if you have not been properly diagnosed with one. The symptoms may be easily mistaken for those of a stroke.

Common Symptoms of Complex Migraine:

Complex migraine attacks often start with a severe headache. Throbbing or hammering pain is common. It can start as a dull ache that grows into pulsing pain that is mild, moderate, or severe. Untreated headache pain becomes moderate to severe. Pain might impact the front, back, or both sides of your head. Some individuals have eye, temple, facial, sinus, jaw, or neck discomfort.

Additional signs and symptoms of migraine headaches include:

  • Light, noise, and odor sensitivity.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and stomachache.
  • Appetite loss.
  • Sweating or freezing (chills).
  • Eye Strain and dizziness.


The effectiveness of treatment for complex migraine varies with factors such as the intensity and frequency of headache attacks.

No cure exists for migraines. Medication may treat symptoms as they develop, and there are measures one might take to lessen the frequency and severity of attacks. However, it is important to remember that these drugs may have unwanted consequences.

Drugs to alleviate pain and other symptoms are frequently helpful. By treating symptoms as soon as they appear, you may prevent them from becoming severe.

Common OTC pain relievers that may help those who suffer from migraines are:

  • ibuprofen (Advil),
  • naproxen (Aleve)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Naproxen (Aleve)

Why Do People Get Migraines?

Researchers still don’t know everything that causes migraines. It looks like they may be caused in part by changes in the amount of serotonin in the body. Serotonin has many jobs to do in the body, including changing how blood vessels work.

When the level of serotonin is high, blood vessels narrow (shrink). When the level of serotonin drops, the blood vessels widen (swell). This swelling can hurt or make other things go wrong. Migraine headaches are also linked to a pattern of electrical activity in the brain that spreads out. This is something that is being looked into.

Some research shows that complex migraines may be caused by genes, which means they may run in families. Scientists have found some genes that are linked to migraines. They don’t know why some people are affected by these genes more than others. The American Migraine Foundation says that you have a 50% chance of getting migraines if one of your parents does.

Women are more likely to have migraines that last a long time (migraines that occur 15 days a month or more). This may have something to do with hormones. Every month, around the time you get your period, your hormones change. If you are pregnant or going through menopause, they can also change.

If both of your parents have migraines, there is a 75% chance that you will too. In the end, it seems that migraines are caused by a mix of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

Fight and Overcome it With Professionals’ Help:

Complex migraines can strike suddenly. They may destroy a day or more. It’s possible that they’ll cause you to lose out on opportunities at work, with friends, and even in your leisure time.

Regain control with your doctor. Keep track of migraines and what you eat. Record weather and odd scents. Knowing your triggers helps avoid migraines. Your doctor may also tell you to take different medicines or a mix of medicines. This identifies the best migraine prevention and treatment methods.

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