Below Dr Elizabeth Kershaw-Yates tells us 5 facts about migraines
It’s Migraine Awareness Week from 1st – 7th September, and we spoke to some GPs at The Online Clinic to find out the top five things everyone should know about migraines.
Facts About Migraines
- Migraines are one of the most common health conditions in the world
Migraines affect more women than men – on average 1 in 5 women suffer from them, and 1 in 12 men.
They usually begin in the teenage years, but they can start at any age. Over half of migraine sufferers have one or more attacks a month, and more than 1 in 10 have one or more attacks a week.
- There are three main types of migraine
There are three different types of migraine, which vary in their characteristics. These are:
- Migraine without aura – this is a throbbing headache at the front or at the side of the head (usually on one side). It can include moderate to severe pain, with nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to bright light and can be worsened by head movements.
- Migraine with aura – This has all the same features of a migraine without aura but there is also a warning sign at the start of the headache. This could be visual – such as seeing flashing lights or experiencing a partial loss of vision – or it could be a sensation, such as numbness, struggling with speech or a smell.
- Migraine with aura, without headache – This type of migraine has the same features of a migraine with an aura but without the onset of a headache.
Symptoms Of Migraines
- The symptoms vary for each person
Migraine attacks vary in length and frequency depending on the person. For most sufferers, migraines are associated with pain, nausea, dizziness, sensitivity to light and noise, and changes in eyesight.
They are caused by a huge number of factors
Migraine sufferers have a very sensitive nervous system, particularly when it comes to change. Migraines are usually caused by the person’s brain responding abnormally to signal and sensory information.
There are numerous external triggers that can cause migraines. These include:
- Environment – high altitude, humidity, noise or flickering lights
- Food which contains caffeine or food additives
- Foods such as chocolate, cheese, red wine or citrus fruits
- Psychological factors – such as stress, anxiety, depression or tiredness.
- Sleep (either too much or too little)
- Drugs – it could be sleeping pills or oral contraceptives.
- Hormonal changes in women
- Mild dehydration
- Eating irregular meals or not eating enough
- A change in routine
One thing that can help to pinpoint your triggers is to keep a migraine diary and write down when the migraine started, when it ended, and what your symptoms were, along with as many details about your daily life as you can.
- There are treatments available
A migraine can either be treated when it begins, or treatment to prevent it from happening. To treat a migraine when it begins, you can use:
- Anti-sickness medication
There are also a number of treatments available to help prevent migraines from happening:
- Triptans – a medicine which stimulates the production of a chemical in the brain (serotonin).
Some of these can have nasty side effects – talk to your doctor about them thoroughly before considering which you can try. So there you go, that’s 5 facts about migraines you may not have known before.
Advice given by Dr Elizabeth Kershaw-Yates, GP and one of the medical team at The Online Clinic: https://www.theonlineclinic.co.uk/