If you have ever experienced migraines or are close to someone who has, you will know how debilitating they can be. For the vast majority they not only impact the ability to continue daily activities during an episode, but they have a knock-on effect in all areas of life. From being able to go to social events, to maintaining relationships, and attending work and education. Did you know it is estimated that 10 million people in the UK between the age of 15 – 69 suffer from migraines1 and we lose a total of 43 million days from work and education a year due to them? With so many people experiencing migraines and to shine a light on ‘National Migraine Awareness Week’ here in the UK, we will be providing an insight into migraines and sharing more on how you can help yourself or those around you. There are a number of different types of migraines, and in this blog we will be discussing the ‘common migraine’ and ‘migraine with aura’. So what is a migraine and why do we get them? It is thought that migraines are caused by overactivity in the brain which impacts the nerve signals, chemicals, and blood vessels temporarily3. Certain triggers have been linked to starting migraines too, including but not limited to 4: - Strong smells and perfumes - Change in weather - Hormonal changes with menstruation and menopause - Lack of sleep - Stress - Foods such as aged cheese, caffeinated drinks, chocolate, processed meats and canned foods - Bright lights - Lack of exercise, or strenuous exercise with poor hydration and nutrition - Medication overuse What are some of the symptoms of migraines? The type of symptoms can vary greatly from one person to another. For one person it may feel like there is a boxing match going on inside their skull, and for another it may be throbbing, like there’s an alarm continually sounding. The pain can impact one or both sides of the head, face, or neck. Some people can become sensitive to bright lights or sound, and they may feel sick or vomit which is why often lying down in a dark room is the only option. The symptoms can last anywhere from four hours and can go on for days, which is why migraines can have such an impact on daily life. You may have heard of the ‘migraine with aura’ too? The ‘aura’ can begin on its own or with a migraine and can result in changes in sight such as flickering lights, spots, or loss of vision. You can also experience change of sensation such as pins and needles or numbness, and problems speaking which is why migraines can be a real cause of concern as they can present similar to more serious conditions*. How are migraines managed? Unfortunately there is no one size fits all approach to help relieve the symptoms of migraines whilst they are in progress, but there are a couple of things to consider to help prevent them: 1. Keep a diary If you have been experiencing migraines, keeping track of the time your migraine started, finished and type of symptoms experienced can be helpful to monitor patterns. Also keeping a record of what you were doing in the run up to the episode can be helpful to identify any potential triggers. Keeping track of your daily activities such as food, hydration, stress levels and sleep will help to build the picture. It may seem laborious at the start, but by doing so it could provide a key piece of information to help you adapt your lifestyle to prevent further migraines. 2. Seek help As a chiropractor we see many people who have struggled with migraines for years and have suffered in silence because they didn’t realise there were other avenues to explore. The good news is that chiropractic care has been shown to be effective in the prevention of migraines along with other headaches arising from the neck 5. Do you recall earlier in the blog how migraines are thought to begin due to overactivity in the brain? Well, the wonderful thing about chiropractic care is that it’s a natural approach to improve how well your spine and body works, and the adjustments have a direct impact on your nervous system, which includes your brain. It’s amazing what can happen when your nervous system is functioning well. Migraines certainly should be taken seriously so we would encourage you to seek help if it is something you struggle with. Feel free to reach out to us, we would be happy to guide you.