Anyone who has ever suffered from a migraine will tell you what a debilitating problem it is. Defined as a moderate or severe headache, the actual symptoms can leave some people bed ridden for days. In recent findings, the NHS found that migraines affect 1 in 5 women and 1 in 15 men, and the World Health Organisation ranks migraine as the 6th highest cause of years lost due to disability worldwide.
With over 8 million people in the UK suffering migraines, and with Migraine Awareness Week just around the corner (3 to 9 September 2017), we want to help those affected understand what they can do to help prevent them or alleviate their symptoms.
Migraine Types & Their Symptoms
The International Society of Headaches has three main classifications for migraines, which allow doctors and healthcare professionals to easily diagnose and treat migraines. These include:
- Migraine with aura – a migraine with warning signs prior to the attack. These warning signs can consist of visual distortion, sickness, and many other symptoms.
- Migraine without aura – a migraine without any warning sign. It is the most common type of migraine.
- Migraine aura without headache – A migraine that consists of other symptoms but without a headache. This is often called a silent migraine.
When it comes to migraines, no one is affected in exactly the same way. There are a range of symptoms that not everyone suffers in the same way, or the same order. Symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Painful headache
- Sensitivity to light
- Disturbed vision
Cause of Migraines
Put simply, we do not know what exclusively causes migraines. There are many theories as to why people get migraines, but there is no concrete evidence as to the cause. Despite this, there are many triggers that have been documented over the years. These triggers tend to centre around changes in the body as a result of external factors.
For example, many sufferers find specific food or drink such as cheese, chocolate, caffeine or citrus can be a trigger. If you suffer from migraines, keeping a diary of everything you eat for a week and making a note of when you suffered a migraine will help you work out which food or drink is your trigger.
Other triggers can be down to how your body reacts to factors that you have little or no control over, such as hormonal, emotional, environmental or physical changes. The NHS offers a more detailed overview of these possible causes of migraines which you can read here.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for consistent migraines. This does not mean that there are no options to help alleviate symptoms. The effectiveness of each treatment varies almost as much as the symptoms from person to person, meaning an instant pain relief for one person may not work for the next.
a) Rest and medication
One of the most common ways for people to alleviate migraines is to lay down in a quiet, dark room and try to rest. The lack of light will help relax your eyes and take some strain away. Another common way to help a migraine is to use some simple over the counter medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. The combination of rest and simple painkillers is most effective as soon as the signs of a migraine are coming on.
b) Chiropractic treatment
Another technique used to help alleviate symptoms of migraines is chiropractic treatment. One of the physical triggers for a migraine can be back or neck pain caused by mechanical dysfunction in the vertebrae of the neck. This causes increased muscle tension which irritates the nerves controlling blood flow to the head. By using spinal adjustments and soft tissue therapy, a skilled chiropractor will work to align the bones in the neck. This helps ease the pressure and irritation that can cause migraines, bringing them to a more manageable level. For more information about how chiropractors can help alleviate the symptoms of a migraine, why not visit our dedicated migraine relief page?
Preventing migraines is the best way of reducing the effect that they can have on your life. The obvious way to do this is to try and work out what the triggers are, and avoid them. This can be easier said than done for emotional or hormonal migraines, but will definitely help for food and drink triggers.
As mentioned previously, you can make a migraine diary that details all food and drink consumed in a day, with spaces for migraine duration and severity. Using this diary, you can pinpoint your triggers and hopefully prevent further attacks.
Another recommended way to avoid migraines is to stick to a generally healthy lifestyle that features lots of sleep, three healthy meals a day and taking regular exercise. Dehydration is also a major cause of most headaches, so try to stay hydrated at all times.
Migraines are a problem that 1 in 7 people in the UK suffer from. The way the symptoms work, and the lack of knowledge into the cause can mean people are struck down at days for a time. Understanding how migraines affect you is one of the best ways to prevent it from ruining your day. Active Health Clinics are experts in chiropractic treatments for migraine relief, and always work hard to help our patients in any way possible. For more information on how our treatments can help, or to speak to one of our team, you can contact us on 01628 626565 or send us an enquiry.