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Sep 2014
What you should know about migraines
Migraines are a common problem affecting 1in 5 women and 1in 15 men. They are severe headaches felt as a throbbing pain at the front or the side of the head, sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting or increased sensitivity to light or sound, and there are three main types.Migraine with an aura- the aura act as a warning sign before the migraine starts and usually takes the form of flashing lights.Migraine without aura- no warning signsMigraine without headache- known as silent migraine- where the other symptoms and aura are experienced but no headacheWhat causes them?The simple answer is no one really knows but it is thoughts that it may be due to temporary changes in blood vessels in the brain or changes in the blood chemistry. It has been suggested that there may be a genetic link as half of those who suffer from migraine have a close relative who does as well.How often do they occur?The frequency of migraines varies tremendously from person to person; from very infrequently to several times a week. Women may find migraine associated with hormonal changes around their period.What are triggers?Certain things seem to trigger migraines for some people, but these triggers can vary and often it is necessary to keep a diary to determine what the trigger is and to alter your lifestyle to avoid it. Common triggers include dairy products, chocolate, peanut butter, certain fruit and vegetables ( avocado, bananas, citrus fruits and onions), preserved meats such as bacon and hot dogs that contain nitrates, monosodium glutamate, red wine, fermented and pickled foods. Reviewing your lifestyle to include regular exercise, good sleep and meals, reducing stress, reducing caffeine and alcohol can all have a positive effect on reducing frequency of attacks.Can it be cured?In short no, but there are treatments to help. These includePainkillers-including over the counter treatments that your pharmacist can advise you onTriptans –that can be prescribed by your doctor if your migraines are more severe or frequent or you can buy Imigran over the counter IF you have been given a diagnosis of migraine by your doctor or pharmacistAntiemetic’s-which reduce any nausea or vomitingAlso look at herbal and alternative remedies such a usinglavender oil as an inhaled remedy or topicallypeppermint oil- as a tea as it acts as a muscle relaxantcooling head treatments such as 4headfeverfew-which has been shown in several studies to be of benefit in preventing migraine painmassage therapy especially reflexologyacupunctureIf you are thinking of using herbal remedies please consult your pharmacist to make sure that there is no reaction with other prescription of over the counter medication you are taking.What’s the outlook?Migraines particularly if frequent can have a detrimental effect on your life, but with some research into what may trigger them and taking effective medication, you can reduce that effect and for most people they get better over time
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