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Understanding and Managing Migraine

Understanding and Managing Migraine

Suffering from a Migraine is not nice, and yet it effects a large proportion of the population. 

They are usually a moderate or severe headache felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head. Many people also have symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light or sound. It’s a common health condition, affecting around one in every five women and around one in every 15 men.

The following 5 points may provide everyone with a better understanding about this condition.


Article from the Migraine Trust

Finding out about how migraine attacks happen is an important step towards managing your condition. Understanding what is going on in your body, and recognising the stages and symptoms of an attack can help you to bring the condition under control.

1 What is migraine?

It is a condition of recurring headaches (headaches that happen again and again). The headaches may be linked with other symptoms, such as sensitivity to light and noise, nausea (feeling sick), vomiting (being sick), dizziness, and eyesight changes. People who suffer from migraines have an unusually sensitive nervous system that is particularly sensitive to change. In migraine sufferers, changes which many people do not notice cause painful, recurring headaches.

It's basically the same in adults and children, but the ‘linked’ symptoms (such as sickness) may be the major part of a child’s attack, rather than the headaches themselves. This can make it harder to recognise in children. There are a number of different types of headache and migraine, which also complicates the diagnosis. It is important to diagnose headaches properly, so that they can be managed in the right way.

2 What causes migraine?

Scientists have been doing research into what causes them for decades. Our understanding has improved greatly in the last decade, although we still have a great deal to learn. It is, essentially, a brain problem. It involves a disorder of how sensory information, such as pain, light or sound, is dealt with by the brain.

At the start of an attack chemical changes happening in a part of the brain known as the brain stem cause the attack to begin. This starts a loop of changes, with the brain responding abnormally to normal signals from its own covering and blood vessels. Symptoms can include throbbing headache, sensitivity to light and noise, nausea, vomiting and lethargy (lack of energy). In some people, changes in the cortex cause changes in their sight, such as dark spots, coloured spots, sparkles or stars and zigzag lines. Numbness or tingling, weakness, and dizziness or vertigo (the feeling of everything spinning) can also happen. These symptoms are called the aura of migraine. In adults, they usually happen before the headache itself, but in children, they may happen at the same time as the headache. A number of other things can also affect attacks.

3 Genes and migraine

There is now evidence to show that the genetic make-up of a person plays an important role in migraine. Genes are the instructions that tell the body how to grow, and what to do. You inherit your genes from your parents. Scientists have already found a number of genes linked to migraine, and are likely to discover more in the future. Genes explain why headache runs in families.

4 Triggers

So we know that differences inside the body can make someone more likely to suffer from migraine. One of the common features is that it is unpredictable. This has led to the theory that other things are important in triggering individual attacks. These can be things both inside and outside the body. Such triggers (things that cause a migraine to happen) are different from one sufferer to another.

5 Who gets migraine?

Any person of any age, class, sex, ethnicity or culture can have migraine. Migraine is probably the most common of all painful chronic (long-term) conditions, so you are definitely not alone.

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