A throbbing and constant pain in your head, flashing lights, sensitivity to light or sound, nausea… there are so many ways a migraine can affect different people. And with around 1 in every 5 women and 1 in every 15 men affected by them, they’re incredibly common too.
Migraines can impact everyone in different ways and with varying degrees of frequency, largely depending on which type you have.
Some are known as a ‘migraine with an aura’, where there are specific warning signs just before the migraine begins, such as flashing lights or increased sensitivity to sound. However, others can occur without an aura (or warning) and come on very suddenly – and it’s these that are very common.
Meanwhile, for some, a migraine aura can occur but never develop into a headache. These are known as silent migraines.
There are a number of known triggers, including everything from stress to lack of sleep, certain foods and drinks such as caffeine or chocolate, time of the month for women and many, many more.
Medication is a proven way to treat and prevent them, but there are other healthy habits and non-medical remedies which can help you stop them before they start – or even help you cope with them.
Here one of the Charity’s nurses, Mary Beresford-Jones, reveals a few tips:
- Find a quiet and dark space: At the first sign of a migraine, find a quiet environment – perhaps a darkened room – and sleep if possible
- Have some caffeine: It’s been claimed a small caffeine drink can help relieve a migraine
- Exercise regularly: If you’re suffering with migraines more, try maintaining a healthy weight through exercise and diet. This may not only help alleviate migraines, but it can also have huge benefits for your mental health
- Manage stress: Stress and migraines go hand in hand, so it is important to control your daily stresses as best you can. Relaxation techniques may be helpful, some of which you can find here
- Eat wisely: your diet can influence migraines. Try not to skip meals, avoid migraine-triggering foods (such as chocolate or cheese) and keep a diary of your foods. Keeping hydrated is also hugely important
- Sleep well: Migraines can often be triggered by a lack of sleep. We’ve gathered some helpful tips for getting a good night’s sleep here
- Keep a diary: It can be useful to keep a headache diary along with a record of any medications taken. This may help you establish what triggers the migraine and help your GP determine the level of pain control you need
See your GP if your migraines are more frequent (more than 5 days a month) and intense as, while unlikely, they may be a sign of something else going on. Medications can be prescribed as a preventative, but simple painkillers such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen can be effective in the meantime.
Remember you should call 999 if you or someone else suffers with paralysis, slurred speech, a sudden agonising headache, a headache with a high temperature, stiff neck, a rash, seizures and/or double vision.