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How do you treat a migraine and why do people suffer from them?

It can be a crippling condition which is believed to affect more than eight million people in the country.

Far more than just a bad headache, migraines are an extremely painful collection of neurological symptoms, including a headache, often characterised by a severe throbbing pain on one side of the head.

As well as the obvious discomfort, migraines are also associated with nausea, dizziness, sensitivity to light and noise, and changes in eyesight.

But what exactly are they and what are the causes?

To mark Migraine Awareness Week, experts doctors have given their top tips to help ease the pain for sufferers.

In many cases migraines damage a sufferer’s quality of life and statistics claim they lead to around 18 million sick days from work each year.

According to the Migraine Trust, symptoms vary from person to person and individuals may have different symptoms during different attacks.

Attacks can differ in length and frequency, although attacks usually last from four to 72 hours.

“In between attacks there are no symptoms at all – which can make it very difficult to plan and prepare yourself for the next one,” said GP Dr Lizzie Kershaw-Yates, one of the medical team at The Online Clinic. She said there are three different types of migraine, which vary in their characteristics:

Migraine without aura:

“This is a throbbing headache at the front or at the side of the head, usually on one side,” said Dr Kershaw-Yates. “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:

She said: “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:

Dr Kershaw-Yates said: “This type of migraine has the same features of a migraine with an aura, but without the onset of a headache.”

How common are migraines?

“Migraines are one of the most common health conditions in the world,” Dr Kershaw-Yates said. “It affects more women than men. On average, one in five women suffer from them, and one in 12 men.”

They usually begin in the teenage years, but can potentially start at any age. “Over half of migraine sufferers have one or more attacks a month, and more than one in 10 have one or more attacks a week,” she said.

Migraines can be extremely painful

What are the causes of migraines?

People with migraines are believed to have a very sensitive nervous system which, for some reason, responds in a particular way, particularly when it comes to change. “Migraines mean that someone’s brain is responding abnormally to normal signal and sensory information, such as pain, light or sound,” explained Dr Kershaw-Yates. “The narrowing and opening of the blood vessels can also play a part in causing a migraine.”

“You should watch out for any external triggers which might be causing your migraines. These aren’t necessarily the same for everyone, but can include foods such as chocolate, cheese, red wine or citrus fruits, psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, depression or tiredness, along with high altitude, humidity, noise or flickering lights.”

Food and drinks which contain caffeine or food additives, sleep (either too much or too little), drugs and dehydration can also be migraine triggers.

“The amount of factors which can cause migraines is huge, so it’s difficult to say exactly what causes them,” said the doctor. “One thing that can help pinpoint your triggers is to keep a migraine diary. Write down when it started, ended and what your symptoms were, along with as many details about your daily life as you can, including medication, exercise, diet and sleep.” This can help you and your doctor work out what might be triggering your attacks.

How are migraines diagnosed?

Dr Kershaw-Yates said: “No tests can confirm you suffer from migraines – you can only be diagnosed by a doctor based on your symptoms. If they are in any doubt, you might be referred to a migraine clinic or a neurology department, which specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of migraine. It’s important to get properly diagnosed, if you think you may be experiencing migraines, to ensure you get the right advice and treatment.”

How are they treated?

You can either treat a migraine when you start to feel the symptoms coming on, or have treatment to prevent it from happening in the first place.

“Once a migraine begins, you can take painkillers, anti-sickness medicine, or a medicine called triptans which stimulate the production of a chemical in the brain (serotonin),” said Dr Kershaw-Yates.

“To prevent your migraine attacks, there are a variety of medicines which can be tried. The different treatments include beta-blockers, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and even Botox.”

You should always seek professional medical advice if you’re thinking about trying a new treatment method for your migraines, as most of them include side-effects. Plus, some over-the-counter painkillers might not always be the most suitable way of treating your migraine.

Should I contact my doctor?

Dr Kershaw-Yates said sufferers should speak to their doctors if migraines are severe or frequent, or if they get in the way of day-to-day life.

She said: “If you experience excruciating pain, paralysis down one side of the body or face, speech difficulties, double vision, or a rash – make sure you seek immediate medical attention ASAP, as this may be a sign of something more serious.”

The Migraine Trust is also launching a drive to promote how workplaces can help employees with migraines amid a sharp rise in people seeking the trust’s help with workplace issues. For further advice visit theonlineclinic.co.uk or .

Source

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/how-you-treat-migraine-people-15118670

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