For many people, migraine is used as a term to describe severe headache. However, true migraine is a neurological disorder that can be very distressing and disabling.
Over three million Australians suffer from migraines, with women three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men. Typically, migraines are a throbbing or pulsating headache localised to one side of the head and may start with a visual disturbance. Increased sensitivity to light and sound, as well as nausea and vomiting, are also common symptoms of migraines. Migraines can last for up to 4 to 72 hours.
The cause of migraines is unknown. In some cases, migraines have been shown to be triggered by certain foods (cheese, chocolate and alcohol), stress, menstruation, and weather changes. Hormonal levels are also believed to play a large role in causing migraines.
While there is no known cure for migraines medications for treatment and prevention are available. The trigger factors for migraines differ from person to person and can include a combination of causes.
- Medications This may include drugs known as Triptans which may relieve symptoms or modify the severity of the attack.
If the migraine headaches are occurring frequently, a variety of medications are also available that may prevent these episodes or reduce their frequency
- Avoiding triggers – for example, avoiding foods which have previously triggered the Migraine
- Alternative Therapies – acupuncture, biofeedback, hypnotherapy, yoga and certain diets have also been shown to help
Resting in a dark quiet room is also shown to help alleviate the worse effects of a migraine.
Your doctor can provide advice should you suspect to be suffering from migraines. Studies show that up to 50% of migraine sufferers have not been diagnosed, so it is important to consult your doctor in order to receive proper treatment. Keeping a diary to track your migraines can also help in understanding when they happen and what your specific triggers are.
Southgate Medical Centre
Medical Services Melbourne