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(mī`grān), headache characterized by recurrent attacks of severe pain, usually on one side of the head. It may be preceded by flashes or spots before the eyes or a ringing in the ears, and accompanied by double vision, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness. The attacks vary in frequency from daily occurrences to one every few years.

Migraine affects women three times as often as men and is frequently inherited. Many disturbances, such as allergy, temporary swelling of the brain, and endocrine disturbances, have been suspected of causing some varieties of the disorder. Although the exact cause is unknown, evidence suggests a genetically transmitted functional disturbance of cranial circulation. The pain is believed to be associated with constriction followed by dilation of blood vessels leading to and within the brain.

Untreated attacks may last for many hours. Mild attacks are often relieved by common sedatives such as aspirin or codeine. Severe attacks may be treated with any of a variety of drugs, including a group called triptans, by injection or in the form of pills or nasal sprays. Certain beta-blockers, antiepileptic drugs, or tricyclic antidepressants may reduce the recurrence of migraines in some patients. Biofeedback is used in training people to recognize the warning symptoms and to practice control over the vascular dilation that initiates attacks.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also hemicrania), a condition characterized by periodic headaches, usually localized in one half of the head. Women are most often affected by migraines, and in the majority of cases there is a hereditary tendency. The condition usually begins to manifest itself during puberty.

Migraines originate with changes in the tonus of intracranial and extracranial vessels. It is conjectured that first there is a spasm in the vessels and then a decrease in their tonus. As a result, the vessels dilatate abnormally. The headache attacks are accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and photophobia. Other symptoms include pallor or flushing, chilled hands and feet, weakness, shivering, and yawning. Patients usually complain of seeing bright flashes and zigzag lines; sometimes there is reduction or dimness of vision (ophthalmic migraine). Other symptoms are numbness of or tingling sensations in the extremities and, sometimes, the face and tongue. The symptomatic migraine is an indication of organic brain disease—for example, tumor, or vascular aneurysm.

Treatment entails normalization of vascular tonus, sedatives, and physical therapy.


Davidenkov, S. N., and A. M. Godinova. “K voprosu o nozologicheskikh granitsakh migrenei.” In Ocherki klinicheskoi nevrologii, fasc. 2. [Leningrad] 1964. [Collection of works.]


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Recurrent paroxysmal vascular headache, commonly having unilateral onset and often associated with nausea and vomiting.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a throbbing headache usually affecting only one side of the head and commonly accompanied by nausea and visual disturbances
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Elizabeth Mostofsky, Sc.D., from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues evaluated the role of caffeinated beverage intake as a potential trigger for migraine headaches using data from 98 participants (mean age, 35.1 years) with episodic migraine who completed at least six weeks of diaries (March 2016 to October 2017).
The discovery of CGRP and its role in migraine headache production is therefore a breakthrough in migraine science.
A study conducted at Karachi, Pakistan in 2013 showed the results consistent with our results, in that research Migraine was 20.0% as compared with ours 26.1%.15 In this study, Migraine headache is more associated with female gender as evidenced in a study conducted at multiple centers across Pakistan.16 The important finding of this study is that Migraine is found more prevalent among females and those of household and this has not been looked so far.
The use of hormonal contraception in women with headaches, especially migraine headaches, is an important topic.
The Study: In this study from France, 101 children with a history of migraine headaches recorded potential headache triggers for each migraine headache they experienced over a three-month period.
In some patients with migraine headache, reduction of the blood pressure in the painful area by digital occlusion of one or more of the superficial arteries reduces or eliminates the pain while the pressure is being applied.
Secondary endpoints included reduction in migraine intensity, duration, number of analgesics used, and percentage of patients with more than 50% reduction in migraine headache days.
Mean headache frequency reduction was 2.7 migraine headache days in the melatonin group, 2.2 for amitriptyline, and 1.1 for placebo, which means that melatonin was as effective as amitriptyline in the primary end point of frequency of migraine headaches per month.
It is interesting that both these studies showed the same thing: More than 85% of patients who think they have sinus headache actually meet criteria for migraine headache.
More likely, they represent migraine headache or, less likely, tension headache or cluster headache.
Both drugs reduced mean migraine headache days per month by more than 4 days overall.