These are questions with answers that are most commonly asked. Many of these questions have been submitted through to and answered by Dr Simcock, a neurologist and the Neurological Foundation’s Medical Advisor.

  • I have had migraine, usually occuring with my period for about ten years. In the last year I have been getting several attacks of migraine in the course of about 2 weeks. My doctor has diagnosed cluster migraine. Is this different from my ordinary migraine?

    Migraine quite often occurs as a few attacks in a relatively short time with a much longer interval between the bouts. Cluster headache is an entirely dfferent disorder and another name is migrainous neuralgia. This is an excruciating pain of abrubpt onset, usually felt around the eye and it can occur at the same time each day. The pain lasts half to four hours and is associated with watering and sometimes redding of the eye but there is no nausea. The attacks occur in clusters over a few weeks within intervals of months with freedom from the pain.

  • I have had seizures for four years since I was 16. I have been told I have juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. Can you tell more about this?

    There are several different forms of epilepsy which tend to start at different ages. Juvenile means onset from about 12-20 years old. Myoclonic is a sudden jerk and in JME they usually occur in the first hour after waking. It can be a single sudden jerk of the arm or there maybe several jerks preceding a generalised convulsion, often caused by a late night (sleep deprivation). Usually the epilepsy can be controlled very well with medication, but often needs to be taken for life. JME can be inheirited in families.

  • I have had three episodes when I have been unable to see out of my right eye but it lasts only a minute ot two. As it is improving it seems as though I am looking over a wall - I cannot see the bottom half of things for a short time Is this serious?

    By the time you read this reply you should have already seen your family doctor. The episodes are due to a small blood clot composed of a clump of blood platelets, probably originating from the wall of the right carotid artery, then breaking off and passing into the carotid retinal artery, which is the branch of the carotid artery taking blood to the retina of the eye. It can be an indication of a possible stroke so urgent investigation is required.

  • I have heard that Motor Neurone Disease can be passed on from family who have Alzheimer's disease. Is this true?

    No. In a very small number of AD patients, it is an inherited condition and tends to come on at an earlier age. In motor neurone disease, about 10 % of patients have inherited it,again often with an early onset of the disorder. A few patients with MND have dementia, but this is quite different from AD.

  • I have high blood presuure and have read that I should limit my salt consumption - how can I do this?

    Taking salt out of the kitchen and off the dining room table is the first step. But these measures alone won’t make much of a dent in your sodium intake.

    That’s because only 10% of sodium intake comes from salt added at the table or in cooking. Another 10% occurs naturally in food. But the vast majority -- 80% -- derives from processed and restaurant foods. And this is where you should focus most of your attention by doing the following: