As part of Migraine Awareness Week, we felt it was important to do our bit to highlight this common condition, which affects around 1 in every 5 women, and 1 in every 15 men.
To give greater insight, we spoke to Kim Rutherford, founder of Dalton Wise Coaching & Therapy who gave us the lowdown on the types and triggers of a migraine.
What is a Migraine?
A migraine is usually a moderate or severe headache felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head & generally begins in early adulthood, although around 10% of school-age children are reported to have suffered with migraines.
Not everyone will have a ‘typical’ migraine, and there are varying types of migraine which involve different symptoms which include:
The most common symptoms of a migraine attack include throbbing headache, sensitivity to light and noise, nausea (feeling sick), vomiting (being sick) and lethargy (lack of energy).
It’s easy to talk about Migraines in a matter of fact way, and the fact is they can often be dismissed as a ‘bad headache’, however the impact they can have on people’s work and general life should not be underestimated.
One of my good friends suffers terribly with migraines, which can lead to her missing days at a time when she is the midst of a migraine, as all she can do is sleep in a dark room until it clears.
What can trigger a Migraine?
Part of the difficulty in determining treatment for migraines is the variety of triggers and frequency with which each individual suffers with them. Many have regular migraines, up to several times a week, however some only have occasional attacks, with years passing between each one.
These triggers could be a number of factors including:
- Emotional such as stress, anxiety or depression
- Physical for example tiredness, poor posture, neck or shoulder tension
- Dietary which could include missed or irregular meals & dehydration
- Environmental factors like bright lights, flickering screens & a stuffy atmosphere
- Medicinal factors
It may help to keep a diary if you suffer with regular migraines to see if you can identify a consistent trigger.
How can I manage a Migraine?
Treatment will depend on how often migraine attacks occur and how severe they are. Medications that are used “as needed” to stop a migraine in its tracks, and also to prevent migraine, include:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen
- Anti-nausea drugs
- Steroids/Opioids which should be used in low doses, for limited periods of time
- Botox – injections have been used for many years to prevent migraines, sometimes in combination with other regular medications
- Preventive medications such as beta blockers
As there is no known cure for Migraines, early prevention and treatment is so important. Research continues into this disorder with charities such as The Migraine Trust in the UK aiming to fund and promote research, as well as providing support for those affected.
Look out for our future series with Kim of articles, hints and tips on Self Care and Stress Management in the coming weeks!!
References: NHS, Web MD, The Migraine trust, The American Migraine Foundation