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What causes headaches with dancing lights?

I frequently experience severe headaches which are accompanied by crescents of light that grow larger, obscuring my vision, and severe nausea. I get them frequently, with no warning, and they effect every aspect of my day. When I am suffering one I cannot function at all, and it makes life hard for my family as they have to tip toe around when I am having one of these headaches because I get so sensitive to sound. What causes them and what can I do to prevent them?
You may be experiencing migraine headaches. Migraines are typically characterized by one-sided headaches that are of at least moderate severity, pounding, associated with nausea, and worsened by bright light or loud sound. The headaches often get worse with any kind of activity. Patients will often deal with these headaches by laying down in a dark quiet room. Some migraine sufferers will experience an aura, which is a sensation that usually precedes the headache by 30 minutes to 1 hour. Often this aura is visual, characterized by changes in light or strange lines in the visual fields. There are two treatments for migraines: one to stop the headache that is just starting or has already started, and one to prevent future headaches from coming. For an abortive medication to stop a current headache, some patients do well with over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen or Excedrin. Some patients will require prescription-strength medications. If the headaches are frequent and disabling, then a daily medication can be prescribed to help prevent them from happening again (such as beta blockers or anti-depressants). You should keep track of what triggers exist for your headaches, and talk to your primary care doctor about your symptoms so that a proper treatment plan can be initiated.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.

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