What is Migraine?
Migraine is a condition that causes episodes of headaches. The headache is usually moderate to severe, throbbing and one sided. Other symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, light or sound sensitivity can occur. Between migraine attacks, the symptoms go completely.
Who gets Migraine?
Migraine affects 1 in 5 women and about 1 in 15 men. It usually starts in childhood or early adulthood and tends to run in families. Some people have frequent attacks – several a week, others have occasional episodes. In some people, the migraine attacks stop in later adult life, but in other cases they are lifelong.
What are the types of Migraine?
- Migraine with aura – aura means a warning sign just before the migraine begins, such as seeing flashing lights
- Migraine without aura – (most common), where the migraine occurs without the specific warning signs
- Migraine aura without headache, also known as silent migraine – where other migraine symptoms occur such as visual changes, but a headache doesn’t develop
What are the causes of Migraine?
The exact cause of migraines is not known, although it is thought to be the result of temporary changes in the chemicals, nerves and blood vessels in the brain. Some people find migraine attacks are associated with certain triggers, which can include:
- – getting their monthly period
- – stress
- – tiredness
- – certain foods or drinks, eg cheese/chocolate/red wine
- – environment eg smoking, loud noises, strong smells
There is no cure for migraine, but there are treatments available. Some people only require simple treatments like Paracetamol, Ibuprofen or Aspirin, but others need stronger medicines that target the cause of migraines.
Targeted migraine medications that are available on prescription include Sumatriptan(Apo-Sumatriptan) and Rizatriptan (Rizamelt). These alleviate painful headaches and reduce nausea with the associated visual or hearing disturbance. These are taken at the start of the migraine headache, and cannot be used as a preventative. Some people experience nausea, dry mouth and drowsiness with these types of medications. The side effects are usually mild and improve on their own.
Anti-sickness medicines such as Metoclopramide(Metamide) can successfully treat migraine in some people even if you don’t experience nausea or vomiting. These are available on prescription and can be taken alongside painkillers and triptans.
As with painkillers, anti-sickness medicines work better if taken as soon as your migraine symptoms begin. They usually come in the form of a tablet. Side effects may include drowsiness and diarrhoea.
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