Typically, a throbbing pain on one side of the head that varies in severity from moderate to extreme. Here we will discuss everything you need to know about migraine including the causes of migraine, migraine triggers, and migraine relief.
Migraine is a type of chronic headache disorder. The pain experienced from migraine may vary from moderate to severe and is typically felt on one side of the head. The headache is prolonged, lasting anywhere between 4 to 72 hours and may present with additional symptoms depending on the severity of the migraine. The exact cause of migraine is unknown but it is more common in women than men and usually starts in early adulthood.
Sufferers may get warning signs before a migraine attack (migraine with aura) though migraine without warning is the most common type of migraine and is called migraine without aura.
Chronic migraine is defined as migraine attacks experienced on at least 15 days of the month. Chronic migraine is highly debilitating and makes life extremely difficult for the sufferer.
The exact cause is unknown, but migraine is believed to develop as a result of abnormal brain activity which affects nerve signals, chemicals and blood vessels in the brain. The brain activity is temporary which is why migraine symptoms come and go. Some research suggests that genetics play a role in making a person susceptible to migraine.
People with migraine are commonly affected by triggers which bring on the headaches and associated symptoms of migraine. However, the evidence of whether these are true triggers is mixed, with some studies suggesting that craving of certain foods may be part of prodromal symptoms of migraine itself.
Possible triggers may include:
Keeping a diary to identify a pattern of migraine attacks can help sufferers identify any possible triggers.
The main symptom is an intense headache described as a throbbing pain on one side of the head, however in children the pain is more commonly felt on both sides. The pain may be moderate or severe and worsen with movement. In more severe cases, the pain may be present on both sides of the head and may also affect the face or neck.
Other symptoms include:
Rarer symptoms include:
There are several different types of migraine.
1. Migraine with aura – these are migraines with warning signals such as:
2. Migraine without aura – migraines without warning signals
3. Migraine aura without headache (silent migraine) – warning signs of a migraine will be present, but the headache does not materialise
4. Abdominal migraine – often diagnosed in childhood, rather than headaches, individuals experience episodes of stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. Those with abdominal migraine often have a family or personal history of migraine headaches.
There is no specific test to diagnose migraine. A GP will complete an assessment of an individual to identify a pattern of the recurring headaches.
It is helpful if an individual keeps a record of migraine attacks to identify a pattern and their possible triggers. A migraine diary may include information such as:
It may be necessary to conduct blood tests or imaging scans to help rule out other potential causes of headaches.
Currently there is no cure for migraine. Preventative and reactive treatments help sufferers manage migraine. Things that may help include:
Over the counter pain killers such as paracetamol, aspirin, or ibuprofen may help reduce the pain. It is advisable to take pain killers the moment a migraine attack presents itself. Dissolvable pain killers are absorbed quicker by the body and are a good alternative to pills swallowed whole.
In extreme migraine cases where nausea or vomiting prevents the ingestion of tablets or fluids, suppository painkillers inserted into the rectum may be a better option.
Research into the effect of medicinal cannabis on migraine is limited. However, following the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes in 2018, there has been a rise in people looking towards medical cannabis. When first-line therapies have not proved effective at reducing symptoms, medical cannabis may be considered an option for migraine.
For further information and to find out more about medical cannabis, click here to discover more about our award-winning Sapphire Access Scheme. Alternatively, complete an eligibility assessment now. Once complete, one of our clinicians will review your application and advise whether you are eligible for progression to an appointment.
Tension-type headaches are typically felt as a band of pain across the forehead rather than on one side of the head. Migraine pain is typically more severe than a tension-type headache, however this is not always the case. Additional symptoms such as feeling and/or being sick, increased sensitivity to light and sound and a drop in concentration levels are also indicative of a migraine as opposed to a standard headache
Migraine aura are warning signals experienced prior to a migraine attack. They may occur with or without the subsequent pain of a migraine headache. These may include:
The length of a migraine will vary from person to person. Without taking any medication a migraine may last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. Painkillers are recommended at the very first signs of a migraine to reduce the symptoms and severity of an attack.
There are multiple possible triggers of migraine, it is different for every sufferer. These include everything from physical excursion to hormone changes, excessive light/noise to an extreme drop in temperature. The best way to pinpoint the cause of an individual’s migraine attacks is by way of keeping a diary of each occurrence of a migraine. By doing so, a pattern will emerge, and migraine triggers can be avoided by the individual.
If you are a patient or carer seeking an appointment to discuss treatment with medical cannabis, you can complete this form and we can assist you with this.
Eligible patients can provide us with their healthcare records or we can obtain these through your GP. This is to confirm that a patient’s condition has been fully assessed and all other treatment options have been attempted. We will ensure that the primary care provider receives all treatment communication to maintain the highest level of clinical governance.
We also accept referrals from healthcare professionals.
To refer a patient to us, please click here to fill and securely submit a referral form.