Everything you wanted to know about Migraine
Out blog will help you out to answer these questions quickly:
1. What is a migraine?
2. What percentage of adults suffer from migraines?
3. Who is most likely to be affected?
4. How often do they occur?
5. Do people get any warnings signs?
6. Name two trigger factors?
7. How do you know if you have a migraine?
8. Is there a cure?
9. Are there ways to prevent one?
10. What if it still happens?
Migraine is an intense headache that usually occurs at the front or on one side of your head. It is a common health condition affecting about 15% of the adult population in the UK. It occurs in 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men. It is thought that hormones may be the reason it bothers women more than men.
Migraines usually begin in young adults. 9 out of 10 migraine sufferers had their first attack before they were 40. In some people the headaches happen several times a week but others only suffer from them occasionally.
There are two types of migraine-those with a warning sign, normally called an aura, and those without. Auras may include visual problems, stiffness in the neck, shoulders or limbs, or difficulty focusing.
There are usually 5 stages to a migraine
- Resolution stage as the attack fades away. Sleep often helps
- Aura where some people experience visual problems, stiffness, problems of co-ordination, difficulty speaking etc
- Prodromal or pre headache where you may have changes in your mood, energy levels , behaviour and appetite
- Headache stage where you have a pulsating, throbbing headache on one side of your head with nausea and extreme sensitivity to light
- Postdromal or recovery when you may be exhausted.
Migraines are thought to be caused by changes in chemicals in the brain, in particular, a decrease in serotonin. These low levels can make blood vessels in part of your brain suddenly contract making them narrower. This may cause the aura. Then these blood vessels dilate which is thought to cause the headache. The reason for the drop in serotonin is not yet understood.
There are numerous triggers both physical like tiredness, shift work, dehydration, chocolate; emotional like stress, anxiety, tension, shock and environmental like loud noises, bright lights, strong smells.
Some people find lying down in a darkened room is the best thing when you are having an attack whilst others find eating helps or they start to feel better after they have been sick. There are also painkillers that you can buy. They tend to be more effective if you take them at the first signs of an attack so they have time to work. For more advice about what is available have a chat with our pharmacist.
One of the best ways to prevent migraines is to recognise the things that trigger your attacks. By keeping a migraine diary you may find that certain foods or when you are stressed or doing shift work etc may lead to an attack.
The difference in Headaches to Migraine
Sinus: Pain is usually behind the forehead and/ or cheekbones
Cluster: Pain is in and around one eye
Tension: Pain is like a band squeezing the head
Migraine: Pain, nausea and visual changes are typical of classic form