Did you know there are over half a million regular migraine sufferers in the UK alone? It’s important to know what’s a migraine and what’s a headache so you can treat yourself accordingly.
Migraines appear with variable symptoms, including flashing or distorted vision, pain, nausea and/or vomiting. Kids can get migraines too, which often manifest as a stomach ache, so keep an eye out parents.
There are two types: migraine with aura and migraine without. The ‘migraine with aura’ is more serious, where symptoms such as loss of balance, double vision or fainting can occur.
Familial hemiplegic migraine, where reversible paralysis occurs, is also classed as ‘migraine with aura’. Regular sufferers will usually know when a migraine is on the way, and recovery can take a long time.
JUST THE ODD ONE?
Anyone can get a migraine. If it’s a one off, take an aspirin and sit quietly for half an hour or so. Better still, lie down. Caffeine based drinks like coffee or Coke will accelerate the process.
Many people vomit with a migraine, but even if you don’t, still drink plenty of water. If you find it hard to stomach (literally) then sip boiled water or try sucking an ice cube. If you know you are going to throw up, some drinks like orange can be extremely acidic in the mouth on the way out and Ribena is a gentler option.
LOTS OF MIGRAINES?
If you’re frequently getting migraines, see a doctor. You will most likely be prescribed the fast-working painkiller Sumatriptan. While frequent migraines can be manageable, chronic is a very different story, and if you medicate on your own you can risk becoming a migraineur. This may sound glamorous but believe me, it isn’t!
A MIGRAINE IS A THREE DAY EVENT
There’s a difference between a trigger (something that caused your migraine), and a sign that a migraine is coming on. Something as small as the craving for the chocolate for example could be a sign of a migraine. The same can be said for any trigger/sign and it’s good to know what yours are.
PREVENTION AND MANAGEMENT
The best thing to do is to take notes, and if you have more than a few migraines a year, start keeping a log of them. There is a helpful form you can download from the website of the National Migraine Centre, plus a variety of apps for phone and tablet. If you are unlucky enough to have more than episodic migraines you might consider taking preventative measures. This should be done with a neurologist.