What is migraine?
Migraine is the most common neurological condition in the developed world. It is more prevalent than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined – eight million people in the UK suffer from migraines with around 200,000 people suffering from a migraine each day.
A migraine is a headache involving recurrent attacks that can last up to three days and sufferers often experience double vision, nausea and vomiting. Many people also suffer from sensitivity to light, movement or sound.
Who suffers from migraine?
Anyone can suffer from migraines however it is more common in women than men and it’s even possible for children to suffer. Children tend to suffer in the early to mid teenage years.
Common / known causes
Migraines are often thought to be caused by emotional strain, stress, hormonal imbalances, and lack of food and/or sleep or by a reaction to certain foods or medications. Some people find foods such as cheese and chocolate are common triggers whilst others have no known cause. Women can often suffer in relation to their menstrual cycle.
There is evidence to suggest that there are some genetic or inherited links to suffering migraine however there is currently no known test for this.
Magnesium deficiency is also a known cause of migraine and studies have shown that those who suffer from migraines have lower blood and brain levels of magnesium. Magnesium can be obtained from the diet by eating whole grain foods and dark green leafy vegetables. However certain factors, such as caffeine can affect the absorption of this mineral. Alcohol, sugar and increased perspiration caused by exercise or hot weather are also known to increase magnesium excretion which reduces your body’s overall magnesium.
There is no known cause for migraine and western medical treatment is often aimed at minimising symptoms although there are some medicines that are used to try and prevent migraines occurring. Medications that are commonly used include anti-convulsants, anti-depressants, anti-histamines, beta blockers or anti-inflammatories. Patients may have to take these medications for many years with additional medications taken during acute migraine attacks. Although many patients do find relief from some of these medications they can cause additional headaches and other issues.
Complementary therapies can be fantastic at helping with migraines as they often look at the whole person rather than the isolated symptoms. They may help with factors such as sleep, anxiety and stress which can be major factors in migraines and a complementary therapist will take into account all aspects of your life. Practitioners of complementary therapies will be able to offer advice and guidance based on their understanding of the body to enable patients to manager their condition as best as possible.
Published by Hove StressBusters
The Migraine Trust www.migrainetrust.org