Migraines are thought to affect one in 10 people worldwide. These intense headaches involve throbbing pain and many people experience nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.
Neuraxpharm provides medication alternatives for migraine and once your doctor has determined your specific needs, they can prescribe the product that best adapts to your needs and condition.
Read more about the symptoms and stages of migraines, and how they are treated.
A migraine is an intense headache with throbbing pain that usually affects one side of the head. It often comes with nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines commonly last for at least four hours and can go on for several days – in many cases they affect the ability to carry on with daily activities.
Migraines are generally split into two categories: migraine with aura and migraine without aura.
‘Aura’ is a word used to describe symptoms that can come on before a migraine attack, lasting up to an hour. These symptoms act as warning signs to indicate a migraine is coming. Auras often involve visual symptoms, such as seeing flashing lights or wavy lines, or getting tunnel vision. Some people also experience tingling in the arms and legs and changes to smell, taste, touch, or speech.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it’s estimated that half to three-quarters of adults aged 18 to 65 have experienced a headache in the last year. Of those, 30% or more have had a migraine.
A 2017 review in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences found that migraine affects one in 10 people worldwide and reported that migraines are on the rise around the globe. In Europe, studies show that migraine occurs in 15% of adults.
The main symptom of migraine is an intense headache. This usually involves throbbing pain on one side of the head, but some people get pain on both sides of the head or even in the face and neck.
The most common migraine symptoms are:
Other symptoms may include:
Everyone’s experience of migraine is different. For many people, migraines follow four stages – prodrome, aura, attack, and postdrome – but not everyone experiences every stage.
The prodrome stage can come on one or two days before the migraine appears. During this stage, it’s common to notice subtle signs that indicate a migraine may be coming. These include:
Migraines may also be accompanied by an aura. ‘Aura’ is a term used to describe symptoms that appear before a migraine, acting like a warning. Not everyone who gets migraines experiences auras. For those who do, they can last for up to an hour and include one or more of:
A migraine itself usually lasts for at least four hours and can go on for several days if untreated. The regularity and severity vary from person to person.
After having a migraine it’s common to feel tired, drained, and lacking in energy for up to a day, and the pain may even return briefly with sudden movement. This period is known as the ‘postdrome’ phase.
While migraines in themselves are not life-threatening, they can have a big impact on general health and greatly affect daily life.
Research from Harvard Medical School shows that people who experience frequent migraines are more likely to have other health issues, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and irritable bowel syndrome. Other research suggests that migraines are associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Doctors are still unsure about the exact causes of migraine, but they think it could be related to temporary changes in the chemicals, nerves, and blood vessels in the brain. Some people find their migraines are related to certain factors such as their menstrual cycle, diet, tiredness, or stress.
Migraines tend to affect more women than men. A global review of migraines published in 20172 found that they affect 13.8% of females, compared with 6.9% of males. The same review found that students are a high-risk group, with 12.4% affected. It also revealed that where people live can be significant, with over 11% of urban residents experiencing migraines compared with 8.4% of people living in rural areas.
Migraines can come on at any age. However, they seem to be more problematic in middle age and ease off in the later stages of life. Children are also susceptible – 10% of 5-15 year-olds experience migraine, and common symptoms in this age group include episodic attacks of moderate to very severe headache accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.
Migraines can have a severe impact on daily life, especially for people who suffer from regular, long-lasting attacks.
A 2019 report in the Journal of Head and Face Pain looked at the effects of migraine on relationships, careers, and finances and found that the condition can negatively affect many important aspects of life. These included marital, parenting, romantic and family relationships, career/financial achievement and stability, and overall health. In the report, over 32% of survey respondents said they worried about long‐term financial security due to migraine.
It can take time to diagnose migraines, because they are often unpredictable and the process can include several tests. It can be helpful to keep a migraine diary to help doctors get a better picture of what’s happening.
First, the doctor will examine vision, reflexes, and coordination and ask questions about the symptoms. Keeping a migraine diary can help them to spot any patterns and is often a useful tool for making a firm diagnosis.
It’s easy to keep a migraine diary – simply draw up a table or print one off from an online source and note down any of the following information whenever a migraine occurs:
There are no specific tests to identify migraines, but sometimes doctors will want to do tests to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. These may include: blood tests; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, which provide detailed images from magnetic fields and radio waves; and an electroencephalogram (EEG), which detects electrical activity in the brain using small electrodes attached to the scalp.
While there is no cure for migraines, there are different treatment options available that can help to reduce their impact or prevent them from happening.
The main way to treat migraine is with medication. However, there are a range of other therapies and interventions that can be helpful; lifestyle changes are often effective, too.
Research2 shows that improved awareness, early treatment and a healthy lifestyle can be significant in the prevention of migraine, so it’s advisable to talk to a doctor as soon as symptoms appear.
Many people who suffer from migraines find that by gaining a better understanding of the factors that can trigger a migraine, they can take steps to prevent them from happening so frequently. One of the best ways to do this is through a migraine diary that can help to show whether a certain food, or something like stress or a lack of sleep, is triggering an attack.
Certain drugs have been shown to help prevent migraines in some people, but they may not be suitable if there are any other health problems and should only be prescribed by a doctor.
Research into migraine medication has made notable strides in the past five years, including clinical trials of new medication classes to treat acute migraine, and non-drug therapies such as magnetic stimulation and non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation (nVNS).
Researchers are also interested in prophylaxis drugs that target calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), a neuropeptide which neurons use to communicate.
Research has also shown the importance of understanding the prodromal phase of migraine,15 when symptoms such as yawning, tiredness, cognitive dysfunction, and food cravings can occur. It’s thought that this may help to explain migraine triggers in some people and allow them to self-manage their condition more effectively.