Migraine

What Are Migraines?

A migraine is a moderate to severe type of headache that can be described as feeling a throbbing pain on one side of the head. Migraines are not usually limited to just a headache, a lot of people often experience other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and photosensitivity (increased sensitivity to light). Migraines are a common health condition that affects around 20% of women and 10% of men in the UK. People begin to experience migraines in early adulthood. Migraines can last from 4 hours to 3 days.

Migraines vary in symptoms for each individual, primarily because there are many different types of migraine. Migraine with aura is a common type of migraine. 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’,...

Migraine treatment options

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Migraine Information

What Are Migraines?

A migraine is a moderate to severe type of headache that can be described as feeling a throbbing pain on one side of the head. Migraines are not usually limited to just a headache, a lot of people often experience other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and photosensitivity (increased sensitivity to light). Migraines are a common health condition that affects around 20% of women and 10% of men in the UK. People begin to experience migraines in early adulthood. Migraines can last from 4 hours to 3 days.

Migraines vary in symptoms for each individual, primarily because there are many different types of migraine. Migraine with aura is a common type of migraine. 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. There are also migraines without aura, which are the most common type of migraine, where the migraine happens without any warning signs at all. Migraine aura without headache (silent migraine) is a type of migraine where you see an aura or flashing lights and experience some of the other symptoms associated with migraine, but you do not experience a headache. The ‘silent migraine’ is not as common as the types described previous.

The frequency of migraines can vary from person to person, where some people can experience migraines several times a week and others only having them occasionally.

 

Overview

Migraine is a complex condition with a wide variety of symptoms- it's main symptoms are a strong or powerful type of headache, often accompanied by nausea or a feeling of sickness, photosensitivity (sensitivity to light) and visual disturbances. Frequency of migraine can vary between people. Some people are more prone to getting migraines than others. There are cases where people can get migraines as much as once per week. Migraine attacks can be very painful and frightening and you may need to lie down for several hours. You can treat migraines using medication that is offered at Cloud Pharmacy.

Causes

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.

The causes of susceptibility to migraines is currently unknown, but things that can ‘trigger’ a migraine have been widely documented and are well known now. The triggers are largely the same across the board, however they vary from person to person. Some triggers include being over-tired, stressed, periods, changes in weather, bright lights and changes to a sleeping pattern.

The physiology and biochemistry of a migraine headache is a little more complex. Migraines manifest when nerve cells send amplified signals to branched nerves responsible for sensation in your face, head and neck. This stimulation leads to a release of serotonin and a peptide (small molecule) that is responsible for some of the sensation. The release of this peptide and serotonin leads to marginal brain swelling, leading to pain and some of the other peripheral symptoms linked to migraines.

Treatments

Unfortunately, there is no cure for migraines, however there are several treatments available to take care of the symptoms. Since pain is one of the main issues associated with migraines, over the counter painkillers like ibuprofen and paracetamol have been shown to be effective. Another way to treat migraines is through the use of a class of medications known as ‘triptans’. Triptans work by ‘reversing’ the changes in the brain that may have been the root cause of the development of migraines. Antiemetics (anti-sickness) medicines are commonly used to treat the nausea that occurs whilst having a migraine. Laying down in a dimly lit or dark room can also help in reducing and slowly relieving the symptoms.

Cloud Pharmacy offers a reliable, safe and quick service for the treatment of migraines. For further advice, please do not hesitate to reach out to us via the phone to discuss your treatment and to talk about any other adjustments that potentially can be made.

Symptoms

Migraine is a strong type of headache that is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. 

Migraine is different for everyone and symptoms can vary. The condition manifests in stages:

  • Premonitory or warning phase
  • Aura (not always present)
  • The headache or main attack stage
  • Resolution
  • Recovery or postdrome stage

 

FAQ

  • What is A Migraine?

    Migraines generally start as a dull ache and then develop into a throbbing and pulsating constant pain that you will likely feel at the temples as well as the front or back of both sides of your head. The pain usually comes with bouts of nausea, vomiting and hypersensitivity to light and sound. Prior to a migraine attack, some people will experience something called an aura (about 25% of people who suffer from migraines).

  • What Causes Migraines?

    The cause of mingraines is stilll somewhat ambiguous however it is believed to be caused by a chemical reaction in the brain which leads to constriction of certain vessels, triggering the headache. There is thought to be both environmental and genetic factors which influence who gets migraine as well as susceptibility to migraine attacks.

  • How Do I Treat Migraines?

    Migraines can be treated using a variety of techniques, however unfortunately, there is no cure for migraines. The most common way to deal with migraines is to use a particular class of medcations known as triptans. Triptans are used to treat the acute migraine symptoms. However there are some prophylactic/preventative treatments that can be take for the treatment of migraine such as propranolo and topiramate.

  • What is A Migraine Aura?

    Around 20-25% of people who suffer from Migraine will likely have an aura prior to the migraine itself. An aura can be described as varying intensities of certain neurological symptoms that act as a 'warning sign' to tell you that you are about to have a migraine. An aura can manifest as you seeing wavy or jagged lines, dots or flashing lights- this often described as a chemical or electrical wave that moves accross the visual cortex. Auras can also lead to you having tunnel vision or blind spots in one or both eyes. There are other symptoms associated with a migraine aura such as auditory/visual hallucinations, changes in small (phantom smells), numbness, pins and needles or speech disturbances. 

  • Can The Weather Affect Migraines?

    For some people, weather changes can cause an imbalance in neurotransmitters and chmicals in the brain such a sereotning (5-HT), which can lead to more frequent migraines. Bright sunshine as well as hot and humid conditions may lead to your migraines being triggered. Some studies have shown that low barometric pressure can act as a trigger for migraines for some people.

  • What is A Migraine Trigger?

    Migraine triggers vary person to person; something that affects one person may not affect the other. Surveys, diary studies and clinical trials have inidicated that stress, menstrual cycle changes, weather changes, sleep disturbances, alcohol, and other foods are among the most common factors mentioned when it comes to triggering a migraine. To help prevent migraines it is important to keep a diary of when you have a migraine attack. This allows for you to pin-point what may be causing your migraine and therefore drastically reducing your chance of getting a migraine.

  • Am I More Likely to Get A Stroke if I Suffer From Migraine?

    Migraines are generally considered a relatively benign neurological condition. However, research has shown an association between migraines and stroke, and especially between migraine with aura and ischaemic stroke. Patients can also suffer from migrainous infarction (blood clot), a subset of ischaemic stroke that often occurs in the posterior circulation of younger women. The exact origina of migrainous associated infarction is not known, but it is theorised that the duration and local neuronal energy level from cortical spreading depression may be a prime factor.

  • Is There A Link Between Hormonal Changes and Migraine?

    Horomones are proteins that are responsible for the regulation and overall biochemical function of our body to allow for complete balance and homeostasis as your environment changes. If you have a hormonal imbalance in your body during menopause, pregnancy or mestruation it can lead to a migraine attack

  • What Medications Can Be Used to Treat The Acute Symptoms of Migraine?

    Acute medications are used to treat the pain of the headache after the migraine has started. Examples of acute migraine medications are some NSAIDS (ibuprofen/diclofenac/naproxen), ergots (ergotamine) and triptans (sumatriptan/rizrtriptan/zolmitriptan)

  • How Can I learn More About Migraines?

    There are a variety of resources available to learn about migraines online. We have summarised the most reliable sources on our cloud pharmacy blog: Migraines: More Than Just A Headache

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Migraine Treatment Comparison