What is Migraine?
Migraine is a debilitating condition that can make daily activities difficult for you. Migraine headaches are identified as severe throbbing or pulsating headaches, usually confined to one side of the head. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises. Migraine attacks have four stages, namely prodrome, aura, attack, and postdrome.
Can Migraine be Permanently Cured?
Migraine headaches are a genetic condition that affects the nervous system in the human body. Environmental factors and circumstances may influence the frequency and severity of the headache, but an external factor does not cause the condition. And therefore, it cannot be permanently treated and cured like an infection or an injury.
Medications can help control the occurrence of a migraine headache, and painkillers can offer relief during a migraine attack, but there is no migraine cure yet.
Identify Your Triggers
Knowing the causes or triggers of your migraine attacks can help you prevent the occurrence of headaches. Think about your daily activities and diet to identify what causes a migraine to begin. Here are some typical migraine triggers to consider:
- Stress – Stress is a significant trigger for 70% of people with migraine. Identifying the causes of stress in your daily life and reducing these triggers can help you manage your condition. Experts recommend meditation, relaxation therapy, and a consistent sleep schedule to minimize the occurrence of migraine attacks.
- Irregular Sleep Schedule – Irregular sleep schedules make your body prone to migraine attacks. It is advisable to sleep at the same time and get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
- Hormonal Changes – Women experience migraine attacks more than men as they experience hormonal changes during their monthly menstruation. The changes in the level of estrogen and progesterone in the body can trigger a migraine attack. Talk to your gynaecologistabout birth control pills that can stabilize your hormone levels.
- Caffeine & Alcohol – Some people have identified caffeine and alcohol as their triggers for migraineheadaches. Others find relief in a cup of coffee when dealing with a migraine attack. If you feel that alcohol or caffeine triggers your migraine attack, identify your limit and stop your consumption accordingly.
- Weather Change – Changes in seasons, high humidity, excessive heat, and storms are likely to trigger migraineheadaches for many people. When the weather conditions are not favourable for your migraine, stay indoors or adjust your schedule accordingly.
- Food – Some foods are well-known triggers of migraine attacks. Experts recommend avoiding foods containing histamine, MSG, chocolate, cheese, dairy products, artificial sweeteners, processed meats, and strong-smelling foods. Adjust your diet to eliminate such foods.
- Senses – Migraine headaches can also start due to exposure to intense light, loud noises, or strong smells. Flickering lights, bright or fluorescent lights, loud music such as in a discotheque, or strong odours from perfumes, room fresheners, or cleaning liquids may be triggers for migraine attacks. Identify your trigger and avoid them in your daily life.
- Medications – Overusing medications can also be a reason for migraine attacks. An overdose of pain-relief medicines, also known as acute medications – usually prescribed for migraine headaches, can also increase the frequency of migraine attacks
Migraine Treatment & Prevention
Migraine treatment aims to control the symptoms and prevent future attacks. There are several medications designed to help people with migraine; they fall into two categories:
- Pain Relief Medicines – As the name suggests, pain relief medicines are painkillers taken during a migraine attack to reduce the pain and stop the symptoms of migraine. Doctors advise taking pain relief medicines at the onset of a migraine when the symptoms begin. They include:
- Painkillers: Over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Excedrin migraine can help with mild migraine headaches. However, overuse of these medicines can worsen migraine attacks.
- Triptans: These medicines treat migraine attacks by blocking the pain pathways to the brain. Medications such as Sumatriptan and Rizatriptan are helpful to people with migraine. These medicines are not suitable for those with heart conditions or at risk of a stroke.
- Ergotamine: Ergotamine is available in the form of a nasal spray or injection. It is most effective for migraine attacks that last for 24 hours or more. It should be taken at the onset of a migraine attack when the first symptoms appear. It is not suitable forthose with heart diseases, high blood pressure, kidney or liver disease.
- Preventive Medications – If your migraine attacks do not respond well to pain-relief medications, your doctor may recommend preventive medicines that can reduce the frequency of your migraine headaches. Some essential preventative treatments are
- Antidepressants: Tricyclic antidepressants such as Amitriptyline can prevent migraines. However, antidepressants may cause other side effects such as sleepiness or fatigue.
- Anti-seizure medicines: Drugs used to prevent seizures are also preventive medication for those who suffer from less frequent migraine attacks. It includes medicines like Valproate and Topiramate.
If you have migraine headaches, consult a headache specialist or physician about your condition. Identify your triggers and modify your lifestyle to reduce the frequency and severity of your migraine attacks. You could also talk to our doctors at MedsNow by booking an online consultation from the comfort of your home. MedsNow is an online pharmacy that delivers your prescribed medicines to your doorstep. Book a consultation now.
Author Bio: Krishma Patel is the Co-founder and the Superintendent Pharmacist at MedsNow, an online pharmacy in the UK that provides health and wellness products and treatments along with free online consultations. She is passionate about showcasing the integral function community pharmacies can play in supporting the healthcare system and the NHS by providing patients with high quality, safe and discreet access to healthcare at their convenience. Along with being the co-founder of MedsNow, Krishma is also the Director and the Superintendent Pharmacist of Enimed Ltd., an independent pharmacy group comprising 32 branches.