Migraine is a neurological condition most often characterised by a severe headache.
Migraine is often a recurring condition, with migraine sufferers experiencing repeat attacks. Typically migraines are felt on only one side of the head and are accompanied by other symptoms which may or may not include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, vision loss and migraine aura. Migraine aura is a symptom experienced by around 40 per cent of migraine sufferers that may include zig zag lines, bright spots or flashes in a person’s vision, and lasts between 10 and 30 minutes. Migraines are typically classified as those with, or without aura.
- About 1 in 10 New Zealanders suffer from migraines
- Typically worst between the ages of 10 and 30
- Around 40% will experience aura
- More common amongst women
Signs and Symptoms:
Migraine sufferers experience a range of different symptoms. For those who experience aura, aura will typically start before the headache. In some patients the symptoms of the aura are not followed by a headache. Other symptoms may include:
- Food Cravings
- Tingling and pins and needles
- Food Cravings
Causes and Treatment:
The cause of migraines is not fully understood. Changes in chemicals within the brain responsible for regulating pain, such as serotonin, may be involved. It is known that serotonin levels drop during a migraine, although research into any causal relationship is still ongoing.
For mild migraine sufferers, pain relieving medication such as ibuprofen or aspirin may be enough to alleviate symptoms. There are also migraine-specific medications available via prescription.
For people who suffer very frequent migraines (more than four per month) preventative medications may be prescribed. Preventative medications don’t always prevent migraines from occurring and some drugs have serious side effects. Patients who suffer migraines should consult their GP and, if needed, seek a referral to a neurologist to discuss a treatment plan.
Migraine Foundation: www.migrainefoundation.org.nz
Support organisation: Migraine New Zealand - www.migrainenewzealand.org
A totally new approach to preventing and treating migraine by Professor Debbie Hay FBPhS