What causes migraines?
Scientific research has yet to ascertain the precise cause of migraine headaches but it is thought that they are induced by the vessels in the brain dilating temporarily.
For some, migraines can be induced by stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation, shock, exhaustion, or poor posture. Other triggers include extreme stimulation of the senses, certain foods such as alcohol and cheese, and specific medications. Sometimes auras (signs such as seeing light-flashes, zigzags, waves, or stars) will precede a migraine as a warning.
What are the different types of migraines?
There are three distinct types of migraines:
- Migraines with aura - ‘classic migraine’, warning signs of visual distortions
- Migraine without aura - there is no warning
- Migraine with aura but no headache - only other symptoms like nausea
How long do migraines last?
Migraine headache symptoms and duration vary from person to person, usually lasting between 4 to 72 hours.
What treatments are available for migraines?
There are several antimigraine cures, from painkillers such as paracetamol and aspirin to stronger 5HT-receptor agonist medication (‘triptans’), to which Sumatriptan and Zolmitriptan belong. While the painkillers work to block the sensation of pain, the triptan drugs tackle the root of the problem and contract the temporarily swollen vessels of the brain. Not only does this relieve the pain; it also removes the nausea and other symptoms associated with migraines.
Which migraine treatment is right for me?
It depends on the severity and regularity of your migraines. You may find some medicines are more effective than others and some can be taken with or without migraine auras. We recommend that you consult your GP if you are uncertain.
What is the difference between migraines and headaches?
A headache is usually characterised by a dull pain on both sides of the head and can remain from 30 minutes to several days. On the other hand, a migraine is normally associated with further symptoms including nausea, a severe throbbing pain to the front or one side of the head, vomiting and sensitivity to light. They can persist longer than tension headaches; up to 72 hours.