What is migraine?
Migraine is a type of recurring, chronic primary headache associated with a number of symptoms. Migraine is a very common condition with about 15% of people experiencing migraine at some stage in their lives. Migraine usually appears in early to mid-life and it is common for those who experience migraine to have a family history of migraine. Women are also more likely than men to experience migraine.
A migraine may appear with or without aura (a temporary disturbance in vision). Aura is present in only 15-30% of people who experience migraine. A headache is classified as a migraine when it has lasted for between 4-72 hours and it has the following characteristics:
It has two of the following symptoms:
- Moderate to severe pain
- The headache is one sided
- It gets worse with physical activity
In addition, to two of the symptoms above there must be one of the following symptoms:
- Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Sensitivity to noise (phonophobia)
Treatments for migraine
Medications to relieve pain are the main treatments for migraines. The first line treatments for acute migraine include simple analgesics such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Triptans can be used for more severe migraine, or for those who do not respond to simple analgesics. Medication overuse headache can be a complication of taking medications for acute migraine too often.
For people with chronic migraine avoiding triggers and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including good sleep hygiene, eating regular meals and regularly exercising, can help in managing migraine. There are medications that can be used to prevent migraines. These medications are usually used to treat other conditions although they have been shown to help prevent migraine.
Some medications that may be used include:
For people who experience chronic migraine, botulinum toxin (Botox®) injections can be used as a treatment if first line treatments have not been effective. In treating headaches, botulinum toxin has been shown to be effective for chronic migraine only, and needs to be given by an experienced doctor.
Preventative (prophylactic) therapy
|If your migraine attacks are becoming increasingly more frequent, if you are suffering attacks of disabling migraine despite optimal use of acute therapies, if you are experiencing some degree of headache more days than not, or if …download|
Treating an acute attack of migraine
|An important skill to perfect is obtaining the most benefit possible from your migraine medication. This often requires a systematic approach to acute treatment. …download|
Dr Julian Rodrigues is a neurologist with specialist experience in treating headache and migraine. To discuss migraine treatments and cost, please contact our office.
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