A painful and often debilitating medical condition, migraines impact around 12 percent of Americans, according to Healthline. While there are a number of treatment options, including medications, it may be surprising for many to learn that there are in fact smartphone apps that can help those experiencing migraines better manage their condition. They can be found amid countless other smartphone platforms that deal with a range of chronic conditions, ranging in severity from mild - insomnia, for example - to severe, think certain types of cancer. This article will take a closer look at some of the best migraine apps currently available.
What are migraines?
A migraine is typically characterized by a severe headache, and in many cases, other symptoms such as light sensitivity and nausea, Britain's National Health Service explained. The headache pain is often concentrated in one particular area and can be excruciating. As stated, migraines are relatively common, with individuals usually developing the condition in young adulthood, although they can begin at any age. Some individuals will experience migraines on a routine basis, while others may only have one or two attacks throughout their lifetime. The NHS noted that migraines tend to impact women at a higher rate.
As detailed by the Mayo Clinic, there can be four stages to a migraine attack, with some people experiencing all stages, and others just one or two. The stages are as follows:
- Prodrome: This stage is understood as an advanced warning period, marked by several symptoms that can point to the imminent arrival of a migraine. The prodrome stage occurs a day or two before the migraine begins. Symptoms associated with prodrome include mood swings, heightened thirst, neck pain or stiffness and constipation. Those in the prodrome stage may also develop cravings for certain kinds of food.
- Aura: When an individual experiences this phase, they are understood as having migraines with aura. This stage is less common than migraines without aura. It is underpinned by neurological symptoms such as loss of sight, seeing colors, bright spots and flashing light, pins and needles, weakness in certain parts of the body and problems with speech.
- Migraine attack: The primary stage of a migraine, individuals tend to experience an intense headache. It is also common to experience nausea, vomiting and vision problems.
- Post-drome: The last stage, after the main attack has subsided, can engender a number of symptoms including depression, dizziness, irritability and confusion. Some experiencing post-drome may also experience feelings of intense happiness.
Scientists still do not understand exactly what causes migraines, the Mayo Clinic elaborated. Several factors have been identified as increasing an individual's risk for developing migraines, however. These include hormone fluctuations, family history, gender and age. Researchers have also identified a number of so-called triggers that often lead to migraine headaches in those who are susceptible to the condition. Examples include certain kinds of stimuli, such as bright lights, stress, tiredness, various medications and some types of food.
Migraines are typically treated with medications. There are pills available that can help reduce the likelihood of an attack. Pain killing medications can also be taken during a migraine to reduce pain.
Smartphone apps that can make a difference
Here are five apps that can help migraine patients manage their condition:
1. Brain Wave Tuner
According to Healthline, this innovative app can actually make a difference to a user's brain chemistry. It achieves this via special programs - around 20 in total - that make use of sound. This app isn't just for those experiencing migraines. The platform can reportedly help users relax and achieve more meaningful sleep at night, alongside reducing pain. Brain Wave Tuner is available for both Android and iPhone and costs $3.99 to download.
2. Acupressure: Heal Yourself
Acupuncture is widely believed to carry many health benefits, including pain reduction. With help from the Acupressure app, it is now possible for users to learn basic acupuncture techniques that may help them to manage the pain from their migraines, an article from Achieve Clinical Research explained. The app is comprehensive in scope, with guides to various acupuncture practices. The app costs $1.99 to download and is available for the iPhone.
As detailed by Migraine Relief, the app iHeadache, available exclusively for the iPhone, serves as a kind of migraine diary, where users are able to enter details about attacks each time they experience one. The app can then utilize information entered to provide insight as to why a migraine has occurred. For example, many an individual has been overly stressed or eaten a certain kind of food. The app can point to these triggers, helping users to better understand their condition and find ways to reduce the likelihood of further attacks. The platform is free to download.
4. MedZam Headache Migraine Symptom Checker
Many of the symptoms of a migraine can actually be associated with much more serious medical conditions. For those who regularly experience migraines it can be difficult to discern when symptoms constitute a medical emergency. This is where the MedZam Headache Migraine Symptom Checker can help. Healthline reported that this app serves as a personalized symptom checker, and can tell users if they need to seek medical attention immediately or not. The platform can also recommend effective treatment options for migraines. Available for the iPhone, there is no fee to download this app.
5. Relax Melodies
Given that stress can be a trigger for migraines, Relax Melodies can be an ideal way for users to take a break from stress and find moments of calm and tranquility, Achieve Clinical Research detailed. The platform makes use of playlists packed with soothing sounds. Examples include ocean waves, nature sounds and even monk chants. This isn't tailored exclusively for migraine relief - it can be utilized during a whole host of activities including meditation and yoga. The app is free to download and is available for both Android and iPhone.