A migraine is a complex but common neurological condition that possesses a number of incapacitating symptoms. They are characterised by severe headaches, nausea and visions of flashing lights, depending on the type of migraine.
If you do suffer from migraines, there are certain migraine medications that you can take for relief. You should speak to a doctor about what could be causing your migraines, whether it’s from lack of sleep, stress, excessive stimulation of the senses, or other factors.
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What is a Migraine?
Migraines are a common health condition that affects around 20% of women and 10% of men in the UK. As the neurological disease is thought to be hereditary, migraine sufferers will begin to experience symptoms in early adulthood, occurring more often in women than men. They can often last from 4 hours to 3 days, and most people who experience migraines encounter them frequently.
Early Symptoms of a Migraine
Before you encounter a migraine, you may feel some early symptoms. These include changes in your appetite, mood and energy. These vary from person to person, but some people who get frequent migraines can predict when they will experience an attack depending on these early symptoms.
What Causes a Migraine?
The specific causes with regards to why migraines manifest or why they happen in general remains unclear. It is hypothesised that changes in vasculature, nerves and chemicals in the brain can be the root cause of people developing migraines later in life, post-adolescence.
Previously it was thought that changes in blood flow to the brain were the sole contributing factor to developing migraines, however new data, research and imaging has debunked this theory. The latest research suggests that there are inherited ‘mutations’ in the brain that lead to people having migraines.
Migraine sufferers usually share this affliction with a relative who also encounters them, so the condition is likely to be hereditary. Some people find that their migraines worsen when they have their period, while others find tiredness and stress to trigger their attacks.
How Long Does a Migraine Last?
The duration of a migraine tends to vary as it depends on the person and the severity of the initial attack. They usually last for a minimum of four hours and can last for up to 72 hours if they are not treated. However, you can purchase migraine tablets to relieve your symptoms.
Migraines are usually characterised by their extreme headaches, around the front and sides of your head. You may also feel nauseous or vomit, or experience extreme sensitivity to light. These extra symptoms can usually indicate that it is a migraine and not a severe headache.
Migraines vary in symptoms for each individual, primarily because there are many different types of migraine that require different types of treatment. It’s a good idea to be aware of what kind of migraines you suffer from and speak to a doctor about targeting this particular type of migraine.
Hemiplegic migraines are a rare form of migraine that simply translates to ‘paralysis on one side of the body’. As well as experiencing a severe headache and symptoms like nausea and sensitivity to light, you may also encounter weakness on one side of your body and pins and needles in your arm, as well as speech difficulties, confusion and vision problems. This type of migraine can be a frightening experience as it shares similar symptoms to that of stroke, so it’s important to seek medical care if you encounter them. These symptoms come on gradually and worsen as the migraine intensifies, but usually dissipates within 24 hours.
Hemiplegic migraines can be alarming at times, and they can occasionally cause long-lasting damage. However, most people recover from them completely and often stop having them altogether when they reach adulthood.
Hemiplegic migraines are hereditary. If you suffer from them, your children have a 50% chance of experiencing them too, so it’s important to get checked by a doctor.
Migraine with aura
An aura in migraines refers to any changes in your senses that you may feel when you have a migraine. This could include:
- Changes in your balance and coordination
- Ringing in your ears
- Seeing lights or zigzag patterns
- Other sensory alterations
- In rare instances, somebody may have a migraine with an aura but no headache
This type of migraine gives a ‘warning sign’ just before the migraine is about to happen, the warning sign is usually described as seeing flashing lights or an ‘aura’, hence the name.
About a quarter of migraines occur with an aura. Sometimes, you may get a migraine with an aura, even if you usually experience migraines with no aura.
If you experience a migraine with aura, you should speak to your GP. They will be able to recommend what to do if you have them in the future and will advise on any food, drink or medication to avoid.
Migraine without aura
Experts are divided on what causes auras, and indeed, many people experience migraines without any kind of aura. These types of migraines are characterised by having a severe headache, feeling incredibly nauseous, and being sensitive to light and noise. Migraines without aura are treated more or less the same way as migraines with aura.
Another type of migraine is a vestibular migraine. These are episodes of vertigo that happen before, during or after a migraine. This is a condition that around 1% of the population live with. Attacks of vertigo can last from a few hours up to 72 hours. If you experience this, it’s important to speak to your doctor, who can prescribe you some vestibular migraine medication or recommend lifestyle changes such as cutting out certain foods.
Other types of migraine include:
- Silent migraines - with these migraines, you’ll have all of the usual symptoms, except pain
- Menstrual migraines - these are associated with periods, you may experience a menstrual migraine before you have a period
- Ocular migraines - as well as visual disturbances, these can cause temporary loss of sight
- Abdominal migraines - are more common in children and have all the same symptoms as regular migraines, except instead of head pain, the person experiences stomach pain
Migraine vs Headache
Not every severe headache is a migraine, it is completely possible to experience an intense headache that is just a headache. Migraines are usually characterised by an intense throbbing pain, normally on one side of the head only. You’ll also experience the other migraine symptoms (nausea, sensitivity to light, and maybe an aura). If you have an intense headache all over your head, and you don’t have any other symptoms, your migraine is probably a severe headache.
Headaches can still be serious, but you shouldn’t take migraine medication for them. If you start to experience unusual or frequent severe headaches, you should contact a doctor who will be able to perform tests to analyse what is causing the problem.
Some people take standard painkillers for migraines, but these are often not strong enough. Luckily, there are also specific migraine tablets that tackle this condition specifically, improving all symptoms.
Unfortunately, there is no long-term cure for migraines, there is only medication like Sumatriptan and Zolmitriptan that is used to effectively relieve the sufferer of any unpleasant symptoms. At Cloud Pharmacy we stock a range of effective migraine relief treatments that have been proven to alleviate migraine symptoms. Once your online consultation has been approved by one of our experienced UK pharmacisits and your medication has been determined, we will ship the treatment to you in discreet packaging within 24 hours (if ordered before 3pm).
How to Treat a Migraine
Firstly, you should find a dark, quiet room and stay in there until you feel better. Light and noise can worsen migraines, so make sure that you are somewhere where you can rest.
Use cold compresses to relieve some of the pain on your head. You can also take over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen, paracetamol, or aspirin (if you are over 16 years of age).
These self-help methods can cure some migraines, but for others, they aren’t enough. Luckily, there are several different types of migraine medication that can help, from Rizatriptan tablets to Zomig nasal spray. Your doctor will be able to recommend which is most suitable for you.
You will need to take the migraine medication as soon as you experience symptoms of a migraine - not while you are still in the pre-migraine phase. This migraine medication works quickly to stop the symptoms of migraines, including headaches and nausea. You should start to feel better in 30-60 minutes.
Most migraine medications can be taken with over-the-counter painkillers, but check your specific pack of tablets for instructions.
Remember that while migraine medication is largely successful at stopping headaches and other migraine symptoms, it does not prevent migraines from occurring. If you experience regular migraines, it’s important to speak to a doctor who will ask you some questions to get to the root of the issue.
Cloud Pharmacy offers a reliable, safe, and quick service for the treatment of migraines. To purchase any of our migraine treatments you will have to complete an online consultation beforehand.
For further advice, please do not hesitate to reach out to us to discuss your treatment and to talk about any other adjustments that potentially can be made.
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