What is a migraine?

A migraine can often be described as a severe headache, involving a throbbing pain and often accompanied by other symptoms. Migraines are common and can affect 1 in 5 women and 1 in 15 men. Some people may suffer from regular migraines multiple times per week, whilst others may have years between attacks

Migraines can affect your ability to carry out day to day activities, possibly needing you to stay in bed for a few days. There are a number of effective treatments to help treat migraines and prevent recurrent attacks.

What are the symptoms of a migraine?

The main symptom of a migraine is an intense headache-like pain, concentrated to 1 side of the head. It is usually a throbbing sensation which can worsen when moving.

The pain is sometimes preceded by an ‘aura’ which is a visual or sensory disturbance such as flashing lights or blurred vision.

Other symptoms include:

  • Feeling or being sick
  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound (which is why many people with migraine like to rest in a dark, quiet room!)
  • Sweating
  • Feeling hot or cold

Symptoms can last between a few hours or a few days, although on occasion it can leave you feeling tired for days afterwards

What causes migraines?

There is not one known cause of migraines, but it is usually abnormal brain activity which temporarily affects nerve signals, chemicals and blood vessels in the brain. What is causing this activity is still unknown.

A range of factors, or ‘triggers’ for migraines such as hormonal, emotional, physical, dietary or environmental triggers have been known to affect individual impact on people.

It is advisable to keep a diary to help identify your own triggers to help prevent attacks in the future.

How can you treat migraines?

There are a number of treatments which can help ease the symptoms of migraines, but there is currently no complete cure.

Practising self-care is an important way to help tackle and prevent symptoms, such thing as improving diet, gentle exercise, drinking plenty of water throughout the day and taking breaks from working too long at a screen.

It is often advisable to try over-the -counter pain relief first, but if these don’t help there are stronger options available on prescription.

One of these options is to use medicines called ‘triptans’. These are specifically designed for migraine pain. There are different options within the triptans also, sometimes it may involve trying different ones or different combinations to find the most effective treatment for you.

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