Migraine is a severe headache that's often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. The precise cause in unclear, however it is thought to be related to a fall in the levels of Serotonin- a chemical neurotransmitter in the Brain.
There are two types:
- Classical - the headache is preceded by an aura when symptoms such as seeing flashing lights, temporary visual loss, speech problems or numbness of the face or arms may occur
- Common - no aura precedes the headache
Both types of migraine often start with changes in mood and feelings of hunger or food cravings.
Migraine attacks last from four to 72 hours and are usually felt on one side of the head. During this time sufferers usually need to lie down in a quiet and darkened room since the throbbing headache is often made worse by movement, noise and light.
Why does it happen?
Changes in the size of blood vessels and the levels of neurotransmitter substances (chemical messengers) in the brain are thought to be responsible for migraines. In particular, a fall in the levels of the brain chemical serotonin is believed to be responsible for the dilatation (widening) of the blood vessels that causes the throbbing headache.
Many factors can trigger migraines including:
- missed or delayed meals
- certain food and drinks - cheese, chocolate, coffee, tea, alcohol
Migraine can't be cured but it can be kept under control. Maintaining a diary – each time the symptoms occur, helps to identify triggers that can then be avoided.
Some men find that taking medicines early in the attack reduces the severity and duration of the attack.
When Should one see a Doctor?
A doctor should be consulted, if:
- Medication (painkillers) purchased from the pharmacist is not helping or attacks are coming more frequently
- There's a change from usual migraine symptoms
- Avoid any identified triggers
- Take painkillers as suggested by the doctor
- Painkillers combined with anti-sickness medication
- Medication that restores the normal levels of serotonin
- Acupuncture, Osteopathy, Yoga, Relaxation or Homeopathy may help