What are migraines?
Migraines are moderate to severe headaches experienced as a throbbing pain on one side of the head. A migraine is a complex neurological condition and can affect the whole body. As a migraine develops, the location of the pain may change and become more intense.
Migraines are the most commonly occurring neurological condition in humans. According to the Migraine Trust, migraines are the third most common disease globally, believed to affect 1 in 7 people. Being prone to migraines is more common than diabetes, epilepsy, and asthma combined. Eight million people in the UK experience migraines. You are more likely to suffer from migraines between the ages of 20 - 50 years.
In many cases, simple painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen are inefficient in treating migraines.
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What are the symptoms of a migraine?
A migraine can produce many symptoms, that vary from person to person. The most common migraine symptoms are:
- Intense, throbbing headache, often only on the side of the head
- Visual disturbances - blind spots, distorted vision, flashing lights, or zigzag patterns
- Increased sensitivity to light (photophobia), sounds (phonophobia), and smells (osmophobia)
What causes migraines?
While the exact cause of migraines is unknown, the most common triggers of migraines are:
- Certain foods or drinks
The Migraine Trust has more information on migraine triggers and the different stages of migraines.
What can you take to treat migraines?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for migraines. However, there are a number of treatments available to help reduce the symptoms. These include:
- Painkillers - this includes over-the-counter medications like paracetamol and ibuprofen
- Triptans - medications that can help reverse the changes in the brain that cause migraines.
How can you try to prevent migraines?
If your migraines are caused by triggers like stress or certain foods, it is important to avoid these triggers. It is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes regular exercise, sleep and meals. You should also stay well hydrated and limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume.