About Migraine

What is a Migraine?

Migraine is a severe headache which typically can last from four to seventy two hours. Your migraine maybe accompanied by light or noise sensitivity and/or nausea and vomiting.  Migraine attacks are due to spasm, followed by excessive dilation of the blood vessels in the brain.1

There are two types of migraine, Migraine with aura and migraine without aura.

  • Migraine with aura – may cause visual disturbance for up to an hour, followed by a severe, one sided headache, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and noise. Temporary neurological symptoms such as weakness in one half of the body, may also occur.
  • Migraine without aura – may cause a slowly worsening headache, often on one side of the head, with nausea and sometimes vomiting and or light and noise sensitivity.1

Data suggests that around 11% of Adult population suffers from migraine 3, so you are not alone in your pain.

All age groups can suffer from migraine.

Possible causes of a Migraine

There is no single cause of migraine, although it does tend to run in families.1

Migraine may be triggered also by habits or lifestyle factors:

  • Caffeine withdrawal, alcohol, sunlight, changes in the weather, stress, meal skipping, obesity, erratic sleep or work schedules. 16

In women, often migraine can be caused by their period or possibly by the oral contraceptive pill.1

Excess use of medication for migraine can also result in increased frequency of headaches.16

What can I do to prevent a migraine?

There are several things you can do to prevent future migraines occurring such as:

  • Sleep can be a good way to get through a migraine attack.
  • If you can identify your migraine triggers, try to eliminate them: 1, 16
    • Try to manage your stress levels
    • Eat well and try to lead a healthy lifestyle
    • Limit your intake of drinks containing alcohol
    • Limit your intake of caffeine

  • 1 British Medical Association, A-Z Family Medical Encyclopedia
  • 3 Lipton RB, Stewart WF, Scher AL. Epidemiology and economic impact of migraine. Curr Med Res Opin 2001; 17 (Suppl 1) S4-S12
  • 16 Pringsheim T et al., Prophylaxis of migraine headache, CMAJ 2010 Apr 20; 182 (7): E269-76.

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