What is a Migraine?

It’s not just a bad headache

A migraine is a neurologic event.  During a migraine, the nerves in your brain begin to function abnormally. The reasons for this are still not completely understood.  But we do know the ability to develop a migraine is a genetic condition.  At last count, there were 43 suspected migraine genes. Some of the genes have functions that we can explain but many of them are not yet understood. Those we are familiar with play roles in the function of nerve cells. They often control signaling or energy management in nerves.
A migraine event occurs when the nerves in a susceptible person start to function abnormally. Between events, the nerves in a migraine sufferer seem to function normally. The thing that causes the nerves to switch into the migraine state is usually called a “trigger”. While migraines usually cause pain, they can also cause many other symptoms such as vision loss, numbness, weakness, nausea, dizziness, ect. During migraine episodes people will usually have trouble with mental focus and sharpness. They often are bothered by activity, light, sound and sometimes even smells. Often they would like to lay down in a dark, quiet place.
However, not every migraine is alike. Migraines can occur rarely or happen every day. Migraines can be very severe, but sometimes are only mild to moderate in intensity. Many people with migraine will find most of their headache events are mild. These people often believe they have some other type of headache such as sinus or tension headache. Because migraine is a genetic disease that often starts to manifest in childhood, many migraine sufferers have dealt with headache their entire life and believe that they just have “normal” headaches. However, “normal” is to have no headaches at all.