In individuals who are prone to migraine attacks, the frequency increases in situations like pregnancy. Pregnancy is a stressful situation for the body and like any form of stress, it aggravates and compounds headaches. However, the frequency of migraine increases only in the first trimester and in fact reduces after that. Even though they are uncomfortable for the mothers, migraine attacks don’t harm the baby. However, in rare cases frequent headaches especially later on in the pregnancy could be a sign of pre-eclampsia. Its best to consult Best Neurologist in Lahore to rule out other complications.
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Why Does Migraine Occur More in Pregnancy?
According to the professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, Dr. David Dodick, migraine attacks reduce during the last two trimesters of pregnancy. Research shows that in early pregnancy, the headache is influenced by hormonal changes. For some women, however, the onset of migraine for the first time may occur in pregnancy.
This theory is supported by the fact that the stable and uniformly high estrogen in the second and third trimester means little chance of migraine. Due to the rapid fall-off thereafter, migraine attacks increase again in the post-partum period. In fact, hormone replacement therapy that mimics the effect of pregnancy on the body are now used by neurologists to treat migraine, especially for menstrual migraine.
Another factor that worsens migraine in the first trimester is the rising blood volume. As the brain gets used to the higher blood flow, the blood vessels expand and press against the sensitive endings of the nerves which causes pain.
Non-pregnancy related triggers of migraine include: insufficient rest, dehydration, exposure to intense light, stress, weather changes and certain foods.
What are the Symptoms of Migraine Attack in Pregnancy?
For some people, ‘aura’ precedes a migraine attack. Aura is a set of symptoms that start about an hour before headache begins. It may include nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, flashing lights or dots or blurry vision.
You are apt to experience pain of throbbing nature on one side of the head, but it can also occur all over. In most cases, migraine is accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
How to Treat Migraine in Pregnancy?
In pregnancy, not all medicines are safe to take. This is why neurologists recommend starting with home remedies or milder medication to tackle the pain. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), drugs like acetaminophen is safe to take for pain during pregnancy. For managing nausea of migraine in pregnancy, metoclopramide, a pro-kinetic drug, is a good choice.
At home, remedies like a cold and hot compress works wonders. A cold pack can be wrapped in the towel and placed over the head to reduce the pain, while a hot pack can ease the neck muscles. Sometimes staying in dark room and sufficient shut eye can ward off a migraine attack; this remedy is also helpful in case of sensitivity to light.
It’s also helpful to recognize your triggers; common triggers include: dehydration, stress, lack of sleep and hypoglycemia. To prevent an attack its best to stay hydrated with no skipping of meals and getting sufficient rest.
What are the Complications of Migraine in Pregnancy?
While most women with migraine in pregnancy will sail through it just fine, there are certain situations that can be worrisome. For instance, pregnant women with migraine are prone to high blood pressure which may progress to a condition called preeclampsia and eclampsia. The risk of stroke is higher in such women, even though its rare. A certified professional like Best Neurologist in Karachi can help to calculate your risk.