Migraine management, Q & A with Dr. Emily Young

black guy with migraine

Migraine headaches are more than just a severe headache. They can cast a shadow over every aspect of a person’s life, disrupt daily routines, and steal joy and productivity.

Migraine symptoms include severe, throbbing, often one-sided head pain, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and lightheadedness. Some people experience aura symptoms like visual disturbances or tingling prior to the headache.

Dr. Emily Young, a primary care doctor with Roper St. Francis Physician Partners, shares her insights on migraine management.

Common Migraine Triggers
Q: What triggers migraines?

A: Triggers can be unique. What triggers a migraine for one person could offer relief for another. Common triggers may include:

Choosing the Right Treatment
Q: How do you decide on the best treatment for patients?

A: It’s based on their migraine frequency and severity. For example, over-the-counter medications might be enough for those experiencing episodic migraines.

However, patients with more frequent or chronic migraines might benefit from triptans, a class of drugs designed to stop symptoms on the spot, or CGRP inhibitors, a relatively new class of drugs that block a pain-transmitting protein.

If those medications aren’t effective, Botox can be used as a preventive treatment for chronic migraines. Administered via 31 injections around the head and neck every three months, Botox helps to reduce migraine frequency by blocking nerve signals that trigger pain.

The Power of Lifestyle Changes
Q: Can lifestyle changes help manage migraines?

A: Absolutely. I’ve seen patients experience fewer migraines when they:

Effective Communication for Better Treatment
Q: How should patients communicate their symptoms to their doctors?

A: Be as specific as possible. I’ll have patients keep a headache journal, recording triggers, intensity, frequency and duration of headaches, as well as any medication reactions. These details are critical in figuring out triggers and creating personalized treatment plans.

Spotting Serious Conditions
Q: How can patients distinguish migraines from a more serious condition like a stroke or brain tumor?

A: You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience: a sudden severe headache; weakness or numbness on one side of the body; or difficulty speaking or vision changes.

Alternative Therapies for Migraine Management
Q: Are there alternative therapies that can help manage migraines?

A: Yes, therapies such as acupuncture or massage (releasing tension) can offer relief. Plus, some patients find success with ergot drugs, which work by narrowing blood vessels in the brain and preventing inflammation. Though they’re not for everyone due to potential side effects. Migraine management is a journey, and every person’s experience is unique. Your doctor is there to guide you, so don’t hesitate to communicate with them. Remember, your participation in your health journey is crucial. If you need a referral for a doctor, you can search our online directory, or call (843) 402-CARE.