The pain you get with a migraine is usually far more severe than an ordinary headache, and often felt on one side of the head.The headache – and accompanying symptoms – can cause migraineurs (people who get migraine) to lie down in a dark room for hours, even days, as attacks can last between four and 72 hours.2 Some migraineurs experience a couple of attacks a week, while others may only get them occasionally. Migraines are considered chronic if you get headaches on more than 15 days a month, with a minimum of eight of these days involving migraine, for at least three months.3
What are the symptoms of migraine?Apart from intense headache pain, migraines are associated with nausea and/or vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound or smells.4 There are two main types of migraine – without aura, affecting 70-90% of migraineurs, and with aura, thought to affect 10-30%.5 A migraine with aura gives you additional neurological symptoms that normally start from a few minutes to up to an hour before an attack.6 These symptoms can include visual disturbances, for example:7
1. Keep a migraine diary – this can help you spot avoidable triggers. Include food, eating and sleeping patterns, activities, the weather, menstrual cycle (if relevant) and emotions.15
2. Ask your GP about preventative medication – Botox injections are recommended under NICE guidance when three preventive drugs haven’t worked.16
3. Stick to a regular routine – make sure you get enough sleep, avoid getting dehydrated or too hungry, find time for some rest and relaxation every day, and try not push yourself with work or exercise.
4. Try acupuncture – NICE states that 10 sessions over five to eight weeks may be beneficial.17 It’s thought that the needles stimulate the body to produce its own pain-reducing chemicals.
5. Consider supplements – a US study found that taking 150mg of co-enzyme Q10 a day for three months helped reduce the number of days with migraine headache by 50% for some people,18 while 400mg of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) has been shown to have the same effect, also after three months.19If you have migraines on more than five days per month or your migraines are severe, see your GP. Seek urgent medical attention if you or someone else experiences a headache with weakness or paralysis in one or both arms, slurred speech, stiff neck, confusion, rash, or seizures.20 Shop Vitamins & Supplements Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.
Sources1. Steiner TJ, Stovner LJ, Birbeck GL. Migraine: the seventh disabler 2. Migraine Trust. More than “just a headache” 3. Schwedt TJ. Chronic migraine 4. Migraine Trust. Migraine without aura
5. As above6. Migraine Trust. Migraine with aura
7. As above
8. As Source 6
14. As above15. NHS. Migraine – prevention 16. NICE. Botulinum toxin type A for the prevention of headaches in adults with chronic migraine
17. As Source 1418. Rozen TD, et al. Open label trial of coenzyme Q10 as a migraine preventive 19. Schoenen J, Jacquy J, Lenaerts M. Effectiveness of high-dose riboflavin in migraine prophylaxis. A randomized controlled trial 20. NHS. Migraine – overview