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Migraine

Written by Dr Claudia Pastides, 13th March 2019

Migraine is a severe headache, often associated with sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and vomiting. It is usually (but not always) a one-sided headache that is described as throbbing or pulsating.

Causes

The cause of migraines is not known, although there does appear to be a genetic element. People with a parent or sibling that has migraines are likely to also suffer with migraines too.

Risk factors

  • Females are 3 times more likely to have migraines than males1
  • Being on your period (more than half of women with migraine have migraines related to their period, often occurring between 2 days before and 3 days after a period)1
  • Family history of migraine
  • Stress and lack of sleep

Typical Symptoms

  • Prolonged, severe headache
  • Worse when moving around
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unable to look at bright light
  • Unable to cope with noise
  • Aura: abnormal vision or sensations immediately before the headache

Common Treatment

  • Resting in a dark room
  • Common painkillers
  • Medications to prevent the cause of migraines
  • Anti-sickness medications

It is important to note that painkillers used to remedy headaches can in turn be a cause for headaches, so if you keep having headaches or are worried they might be migraines, it is a good idea to speak to a GP and make sure you are taking the right type and amount of medication.

When to speak to a doctor

Migraines can often be initially managed via a digital consultation. If the GP decides you need a face to face appointment, they will discuss what steps you can take next. To speak to one of our Babylon GPs, download the app and create an account today.

You should to speak to a doctor urgently if you have:

  • Severe pain at the back of the head
  • Pain at the back of the head
  • Sudden headache, like a thunderclap
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Very frequent or prolonged headache
  • Weakness in your limbs/face
  • Double vision
  • Poor balance
  • Visual symptoms in only one eye

Prevention

Migraine can be managed and prevented by:

  • Avoiding triggers
  • Medications to help prevent migraines

For more information on common migraine triggers, you can visit the NHS page on migraine causes (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/migraine/causes/)

More information

NHS - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/migraine/

References

  1. NICE Migraine Last revised: October 2018 Accessed 13/3/2019 https://cks.nice.org.uk/migraine#!diagnosisSub