Preventing and treating migraines

woman in office with migraineMany of us know the feeling when a headache starts to set in. You feel pressure inside your skull, your muscles are tense and light becomes annoying. The pain can become so unbearable that concentration on simple tasks seems impossible.

Most headaches are of the stress type, but migraine is different and is caused by changes in blood flow in and around the brain. Migraine can be incapacitating, forcing you to stay home from work or school and cancel all appointments. Even if you are able to identify your triggers they can still occur. Learn more about how to stave them off and what to do if you feel one coming on.

What causes migraines?

Medical science does not have all the answers about what causes migraines. A combination of environmental and genetic factors seem to be implicated. If you have a family history of migraines, you have a higher chance of having them. Studies reveal that people have up to 51% higher chance of showing symptoms associated with migraines, if they are closely related to someone who has them.

Migraines can be triggered by certain stimuli. The triggers seems to vary from person to person. They can be associated with emotional states, such as anxiety, or caused by dietary factors. Psychological stress has been shown to play a big part in the mechanics of migraines and development of associated symptoms. Hormones, lighting and air quality have also been suggested as possible migraine causes. The causes and triggers vary from person to person.

Can they be prevented?

One way to try to prevent migraines is to identify your triggers and try to avoid them. Perhaps it is a certain food, or the stress you experience during a specific situation.

In order to reduce episodes of migraine, your GP may ask you to keep a diary of the suspected aggravators, duration of the episode and the symptoms. Rest, relaxation and exercise can sometimes help to reduce the chances of having a migraine or other forms of headache.

How do you treat them?

There are a number of pharmacological treatments available for people suffering from frequent migraines and most are prescription only.

Sumatriptan, one brand name of which is Imigran, is often used for migraine relief. It is available in tablets or as a nasal spray. Imigran works directly on the blood vessels. Sumatriptan usually takes effect around 30 minutes after ingestion.

Some people will experience side effects from Imigran such as dizziness, tiredness and shortness of breath. If you have a history of heart problems, smoke heavily, are a man over forty, or have gone through the menopause, you should discuss this in detail with your doctor before using Sumatriptan, in order to avoid further cardiovascular complications.

The process of treating your migraines begins with a visit to your GP and looking for triggers.