Saturday, 28 July 2018

Are you suffering from Migraine and Headaches??

Migraine is more than “just a headache”. It is a complex neurological condition, which can affect the whole body and can result in many symptoms, sometimes without a headache at all. It can be easily overlooked or mistaken for other conditions and can affect people in different ways. Research is continuing, but at present we do not know what causes migraine; there is no clear diagnostic test and, as yet, there is no cure. However, there are many ways to help manage the condition and lessen its impact - ultimately reducing the disruption caused to everyday life.

Migraine - the signs

For most people the main feature of a migraine is a painful headache. However, there are other associated symptoms that can prevent an individual from continuing with daily life, and these can occur with or without the headache. If you have two or more of the following symptoms during an attack, it is probable you are suffering from migraine: 
  • Intense throbbing headache, often on one side of the head only
  • Nausea and / or vomiting. You may also experience diarrhoea
  • Increased sensitivity to light, sound, and / or smells
  • Neurological symptoms that include visual disturbances such as blind spots, distorted vision, flashing lights or zigzag patterns
Other common aura symptoms you may experience include: tingling or pins and needles in the limbs, an inability to concentrate, confusion, difficulty in speaking, paralysis or loss of consciousness in very rare cases. These symptoms, often called ‘aura’, can occur before an attack happens lasting from a few minutes up to an hour. However, this is usually only experienced by about 20 - 30% of people. Migraine with aura was previously known as classical migraine. The symptoms of a migraine can vary from person to person and during different attacks. Migraine attacks may differ in their frequency, duration and severity, although, normally they last between 4 and 72 hours, and most people are symptom-free between attacks.

The most common migraine triggers are:
  • Stress or the relief of stress
  • Lack of food or infrequent meals E.g. missing meals
  • Certain foods including products containing caffeine, tyramine, alcohol, monosodium glutamate
  • Changing sleep patterns E.g. weekend lie-ins or shift work
  • Hormonal factors E.g.monthly periods, the contraceptive pill, HRT or the menopause
  • Overtiredness/over-exertion both physical or mental
  • Extreme emotions E.g.anger, or grief
  • Environmental factors E.g. loud noise, bright / flickering lights, strong smells, hot stuffy atmospheres, VDUs etc.
  • Climatic conditions E.g.strong winds, extreme heat or cold
Migraine medication

Although there is, as yet, no miracle cure for migraine, it is possible to bring the condition under control using a wide range of treatments that are available. However, with migraine being a complex condition the effectiveness of these treatments can vary between individuals. Some people are sceptical about consulting their doctor about their migraine and believe that nothing can be done to help them. If a prescribed treatment from their doctor has been unsuccessful in the past, some people feel unable to go back. However, the understanding of migraine within the medical field is improving and new treatments are introduced frequently. Your doctor and your pharmacist are important allies in your battle against migraine and their advice and support can be invaluable.

Self-help tips
  • Eat regularly to keep blood sugar levels stable - avoiding sugary snacks and leaving no longer than three hours between food during the day or 12 hours overnight.
  • Maintain a regular sleep pattern - aim to get 8 hours of sleep each night. Avoid late nights and lie-ins
  • Drink plenty of water, 1 - 2 litres per day
  • Reduce stress and anxiety - leave time for plenty of rest and relaxation. Practise deep breathing or try yoga
  • Limit your intake of drinks containing caffeine and alcohol
  • Take sensible breaks from work, especially if you use a VDU or if your work is repetitive and / or stressful; make sure the computer screens are properly adjusted and fitted with anti-glare filters
  • Get plenty of fresh air and get some regular exercise
  • Avoid bright flashing or flickering lights and reflective surfaces. Wear sunglasses and / or a hat in bright sunlight
  • Ensure that ventilation indoors is good and try to keep rooms at a constant temperature

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