If you are one of the 14% of the global population who suffer with migraine attacks, then you will understand how debilitating they can be. Migraine is the third most common disease in the world and is more prevalent than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined.
The most common symptom is an intense headache on one side of the head, but other symptoms can include sensitivity to noise and light, sickness, tiredness, blurred vision and being sensitive to temperatures.
Sufferers may experience a range of these symptoms during what is referred to as a migraine attack.
Research suggests that 3,000 migraine attacks occur every day for each million of the general population. This equates to over 190,000 migraine attacks every day in the UK.
There is currently no cure for migraines however there are a number of ways to try to treat it and reduce the effects.
Sufferers who find that they are sensitive to light will tell you that they need to spend the day in a dark room. Others might need to avoid certain triggers such as foods and smells if they are experiencing a migraine.
In prehistoric times migraine was treated with trepanning, a surgical procedure that involves drilling a hole into the skull with one aim being to release evil spirits.
Today, there are a number of migraine therapy treatments available depending on the symptoms that the sufferer is experiencing or how they respond.
Many sufferers will find that painkillers containing paracetamol or ibuprofen will help to reduce their symptoms. Other medications are available depending on a patients’ circumstances and the severity of their symptoms. Your GP will be able to suggest the best medication to try.
The therapy of Acupressure for headaches involves a practitioner using their hands to apply pressure to areas of the body and head to reduce pain. It is now considered as an alternative headache therapy, including in the treatment of migraines.
Including ginger and magnesium in your diet can help reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Ginger is often regarded as a way of treating symptoms of nausea and magnesium deficiency has been linked to headaches and migraines.
Practising yoga has many benefits. The relaxation, meditation and breathing techniques can reduce anxiety and stress and research has shown that it can reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.
As with yoga, massage therapy has long been considered as a successful way of reducing stress and anxiety which in turn can reduce the likelihood of a migraine attack in some circumstances. Headache massage specifically can reduce pressure and in turn the symptoms that a sufferer might be feeling. You can either find a therapist to deliver this treatment or alternatively, self-massage applied to the temple area for example, can help.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
TMS is the practice of holding a small electrical device next to the head and delivering a magnetic pulse through the skin. There is a limited amount of evidence to confirm its effectiveness, but some studies have shown that treatment at the start of a migraine attack can reduce its severity.
All treatments should be discussed with your GP before starting a plan and consider that if you are pregnant or breastfeeding then extra care should be taken.
The impact of migraines should not be underestimated with many sufferers being unable to work or attend school. It is estimated that the UK population loses 25 million days from work or school each year because of migraine. So, try one of these treatments to reduce the severity of your next migraine attack.