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Migraines

About migraines

migraine imageA migraine is an intense headache that is usually associated with nausea, and sometimes involves sensitivity to light, sound and head movement.

Migraines can last anywhere between four hours and three days, and affect around 12 per cent of the world’s adult population.

A migraine is often preceded by an ‘aura’. Common symptoms of an aura include visual (bright lights, tunnel vision), sensory (pins and needles) and speech (slurring) issues. These symptoms can occur independently or together during a period between five minutes and one hour long, before resolving.

Some people who suffer from migraines may not have an aura before the onset of the migraine. For these people, diagnostic criteria must still be met before they can accurately be diagnosed with a migraine.

Causes

Anyone can suffer from a migraine, and generally there are two influencing factors—genetic background and environmental/internal factors.

Most people who suffer from migraines have brains that are more sensitive, therefore more likely to be irritated by stimuli than those who do not suffer from migraines.

It can be hard to recognise what triggers a migraine. Some common causes include:

  • missing meals
  • alcohol consumption
  • caffeine
  • menstruation
  • stress
  • sleep deprivation, or even too much sleep
  • certain foods or additives
  • various environmental factors.

Treatment

Migraines can be treated very effectively with a variety of medication, depending on the severity and occurrence of the headaches.

Treatments include

  • over the counter medication, including Aspirin, Panadol and other medicines which contain ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen)
  • prescription medicines, which must be discussed between a patient and their doctor
  • preventative medication which is taken on a daily basis, and must be prescribed by a doctor.

Please discuss all medication with your doctor or pharmacist.

Alternative treatments

migraine_yogaAlternative treatment to medicine is available and can reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. It is important however, to continue taking any medication or other treatments prescribed by your doctor, in addition to the alternative treatments.

Common alternative treatments include

  • making lifestyle changes (e.g. decrease your intake or even avoid alcohol or caffeine)
  • learning what triggers your migraine and avoiding it if possible
  • eating regularly, exercising regularly and establishing a daily routine and bed time
  • keeping a written record of your migraines and making note of what you ate or drank before the onset of the migraine
  • relaxation, meditation and yoga.

If the symptoms of your migraine change, it is important you seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Further information

There are several websites containing detailed information about migraines, listed below.

This information should be used as a guide only, and if you have any questions or concerns, you should always speak to your doctor.

Mater Private Hospital Brisbane

301 Vulture Street, South Brisbane QLD 4101
General Enquiries Telephone 07 3163 8111

www.mater.org.au

© 2010 Mater Misericordiae Ltd. ACN 096 708 922

Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: HOSP-005-00638
Last modified 12/11/2015.
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