Did you know headaches are the most common problem these days? It is a condition that causes pain in the head, face and upper neck. Headaches are often confused with migraines, but they are slightly different. Migraines are extremely painful headaches that can lead to severe consequences if left untreated. While some migraines are noticeable because of the symptoms, some are silent migraines which can be dangerous.
Health Shots reached out to Dr Ishu Goyal, Associate Consultant, Neurologist Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai, to understand more about silent migraines and how they are different from typical migraines.
Migraines are more common in women
Migraine is a very common type of headache with which the patients present themselves to the neurology department. Of these, migraine is a very common form of headache that leads to significant disability and work absenteeism, as per Dr Goyal.
A study published in the Journal of Headache and Pain found that the overall 1-year prevalence of migraine in the Indian population is more than 25 percent. For every man with a migraine, three women are struck by severe headaches. It was also found that 18-25 percent of women around the world get migraines, making it one of the most frequent and debilitating diseases among women.
Also Read: How to manage chronic migraine: Understand the triggers
Silent migraine is more dangerous than a typical migraine
In a typical migraine, the patient goes through a prodromal phase in which they may experience extreme fatigue, yawning, upset stomach, etc. This may or may not be followed by an aura which consists of the perception of scintillating lights in the visual field, giddiness, imbalance, confusion, or abdominal pain in some cases, as per the neurologist.
Usually, 30 percent of patients experience such an episode for 15-60 minutes. Following this, the person may suffer from severe unilateral throbbing headaches associated with nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. It can sometimes be disabling, which causes sleep disturbances and warrants the use of abortive medications. It can last for more than 4 hours or sometimes even last 3 days. Once the symptoms subside, the patient may feel weakness.
In some cases, people develop migraine episodes that don’t necessarily cause pain. These are called “silent migraines”. Dr Goyal points out that the onset of migraine is in the 20s and 30s, and silent migraines are more common in adults.” Although silent migraines are easy to identify in view of the previous history of migraine attacks, any change in the character of the aura should raise a suspicion of pathology other than silent migraines like stroke or seizure. If silent migraine is followed by a sudden severe headache that has never happened before, more sinister causes should be evaluated by doing a brain scan and immediate medical attention should be sought,” explains Dr Goyal.
Also Read: Suffering from migraine? 5 ways it impacts your body and life
How are silent migraines treated?
The treatment for silent migraines is not so different from that of a typical migraine. They are treated with painkillers such as paracetamol, naproxen, etc. If you experience recurrent episodes of silent migraines that affect your quality of life, continuous preventive medication is prescribed. In such cases, the expert recommends taking prescribed medication such as beta-blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, etc. It is advisable to choose non-medical treatments as well that offer behaviour and relaxation therapies but the key to prevention is identification and avoidance of triggers that you know can lead to silent migraines.
While these tips help you deal with silent migraines, it is vital to check with your doctor to know which treatment is best for you.