Although common, Dr Sameer Sanghvi of LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, believes there is a lack of public understanding about migraines. To combat this, the GP explains seven little-understood facts about this health condition:
“Migraines are usually moderate or severe headaches that are felt as throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head. They can include other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, and can severely affect your quality of life and stop you carrying out normal daily activities.”
Migraines are more common in women
“Women are around three times more likely to experience migraine episodes. While around 1 in 15 men suffer from migraines, for women it’s 1 in 5. This disparity is largely due to a link between migraines and fluctuating estrogen levels at various periods throughout the menstrual cycle.”
Not all migraines cause headaches
“Migraines are largely associated with headaches. However, not every migraine will involve a headache. For example, a headache does not develop with ‘silent’ migraines but you may experience nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and aura.
“Abdominal migraines are another type if migraine which mostly affects children and involve tummy pain that lasts several hours. Similarly, ocular migraines affect the eyes and involve temporary loss of vision which may or may not be accompanied by a headache.”
Weather changes can trigger migraines
“Changes in weather (particularly pressure) can trigger chemical and electrical changes in the brain which irritate nerves. For some, this can prompt a migraine. Weather changes associated with migraines include bright sunlight, extreme temperatures, storms, and changes in pressure.
“For this reason, as spring approaches, the warmer weather and extra sunlight can pose an issue for those who suffer from migraines.”
Migraines are common in children
“Migraines are common in children, affecting about 10% of school-age children. While, for some children, symptoms are similar to adult migraine symptoms, for others, attacks may differ. For example, some children’s migraine attacks are much shorter.”
Migraines often improve during pregnancy
“Unfortunately, many migraine medications aren’t recommended for pregnant women. However, the good news is migraine symptoms tend to improve during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In fact, around two-thirds of women find their migraines are reduced.”
Medication can be taken to treat and prevent migraines
“Medication can be taken to reduce the number and severity of migraines. One of these, Vydura (containing the active ingredient rimegepant), is a new migraine medication that comes in oral wafer form and can relieve migraine attacks and prevent them altogether. Vydura is now available in the UK from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, the first to launch this treatment in the UK. It is not yet available on the NHS.”
Some studies show a plant-based diet can improve migraines
“A growing body of evidence suggests migraines can be prevented by eating a plant-based diet, rich in dark leafy vegetables. In particular, a 2021 report showed following the low-inflammatory foods every day (LIFE) diet may offer effective, permanent relief from migraines.
“Try incorporating more vegetables like spinach, kale, bok choy, and rocket into your diet.”