Why Migraines Deserve More Attention?
Migraines are more than just headaches they are a debilitating neurological condition that governs people’s lives. There are three main types of migraines, aura, aura with pain and pain without an aura. Most migraine sufferers go through four main stages; onset, headache, wind down and recovery.
Industry loses many working days due to migraines and yet there is very little research into their cause and treatment. Traditionally painkillers containing opiates were popular treatments but they are highly addictive because the body becomes resilient to them. Triptans are new treatments that open the blood vessels to the brain relieving the symptoms.
Recent studies indicate that monitoring migraines and identifying triggers is a very effective way to manage the condition. Migraine sufferers are having to learn to manage their own pain by altering their lifestyle. Smartphone apps based on the concept of migraine forecasting are available to help people to manage the condition.
Why Should We Take Migraines Seriously?
According to the Migraine Trust migraines are the third most common disease globally. Over 20 million working and school days are lost due to the condition. Missing work costs businesses £25.5 billion pounds a year in sick pay and covering staff. The NHS spends £150 million a year treating sufferers. Headaches are a serious financial burden on society and our healthcare system. The cost alone is a good reason to give migraines more attention.
People with migraines also suffer from depression which has a further domino effect on medical costs. Funding and research for this common neurological condition are few and far between. A lack of understanding of the condition causes people to dismiss the severity of the condition. People are increasingly having to manage the pain themselves in order to live their lives without disruption.
What Are They?
Migraines are a throbbing pain felt on one side of the head. Sometimes over the counter medication like Ibuprofen and paracetamol reduce the pain whiles others require prescription medication. Sufferers normally feel nausea, sickness and an increased sensitivity to light and sound before the pain starts. Most pain manifests itself as a throbbing feeling on one side of the head. Women are more likely to suffer from headaches than men and most people have them from early adulthood to middle age.
Symptoms include; throbbing pain on one side of the head, blurred vision, cognitive impairment, slurred speech, sensitivity to light, paralysis and a rash. If you suffer from severe symptoms you must consult your doctor because it could be a sign of a more serious condition.
No-one actually knows the exact cause of migraines apart from it possibly being due to chemical changes in the body. Some people have frequent chronic migraines while others rarely have them. Often migraines run in families and it is not uncommon for close relatives to suffer from the condition. Triggers include; menstruation, tiredness, stress, reaction to certain foods and sensory triggers. Being aware of your triggers gives you the opportunity to avoid them and hopefully avoid migraines altogether.
There is no single migraine treatment as everyone’s condition is slightly different. Traditional treatments include; ibuprofen and paracetamol, opiates, anti-nausea medication and triptans. Over the counter, treatments work for some but are not strong enough for others. Painkillers containing opiates are effective but become less effective over time. Triptans taken during the onset of a migraine prevent the symptoms from escalating. Anti-sickness medication helps people to deal with feelings of nausea.
Migraine forecasting involves recording all aspects of your everyday life including an attack to analyse triggers. Studies have shown that identifying specific triggers makes it easier to manage the occurrence of migraines. There are a number of Apps available that help you to record your migraines and manage pain. If medication no longer works you must find natural ways to treat your migraine.
By Birpal Virdee (March 2018)