Whether you suffer from it yourself or know someone who does, there’s a good chance migraines have had an effect on someone in your immediate surroundings. With an estimated patient base of close to 7 million people in the UK alone, it is the third most common disease in the world and has more patients than asthma, diabetes and epilepsy.
Besides debilitating headaches, migraine attacks are known to cause nausea and vomiting, disorientation, dizziness and a sensitivity to light and noise. They commonly last between 4 and 72 hours. This in turn means that over 80% of migraine sufferers stay at home during an attack, costing the UK economy over £2.25 billion per year. Although there isn’t a current cure for migraines, there are things you can do to get a better grip on what’s happening to you and hopefully alleviate some of the symptoms. Here are our 5 top tips to take control of your migraines:
- Keep a Migraine diary
It is commonly accepted that migraines are brought on by certain triggers – these can be certain kinds of food (cheese and wine appear frequently on the naughty list), stress, lack of sleep, exercise, weather conditions or certain sensory perceptions. By keeping a migraine diary, detailing your current condition day-to-day, you’ll be able to understand what triggers your migraines and avoid them in future. More information: The Migraine Trust.
- Keep coolants on stand-by
When you feel an attack coming up, cooling pads or creams can offer some relief. These are most effective in the early stages of an attack. A firm internet favourite is White Tiger Balm, which provides a cooling menthol sensation and is best applied to forehead and temples. If the smell puts you off (as said before, it could be a trigger!) then cooling strips or pads might be an option. These products are placed on your forehead, where they quickly cool you down. They don’t contain any medicines and can be used frequently.
- If using medication, find out which one works for you
Over the counter migraine medication is usually based on a combination between paracetamol or ibuprofen and codeine and are aimed primarily at relieving your headache. Migraleve Pink has the added ingredient Buclazine, which treats nausea as well. Other products such as Solpadeine Plus contain added caffeine and are soluble for ease of use. Not every pain relief medication is the same, and it will take some time to find the ideal match for you. Our full range of migraine relief contains many budget buys for you to try out. Be warned though: painkillers which contain codeine can only be taken for 3 days in a row as they are addictive and prolonged use may make your migraines worse.
- Look at alternative methods of releasing tension
Although a trigger for some (these are called exercise-induced migraines), there is a lot of research pointing towards the benefits of regular exercise for migraine sufferers. Exercise releases endorphins in your brain, which de-stress your body and help you sleep. With stress and sleep both being major migraine triggers, the potential benefits are clear to see. The key is not to overdo it, and to avoid hot and humid conditions. A brisk walk outside is ok, hot and steamy Bikram Yoga perhaps less so. And don’t forget to stay hydrated throughout!
- Take control of your environment
You might not be able to fully control when an attack hits you, but you can at least be prepared for it. Deck out your bedroom in muted and calming shades, make sure your bed is comfortable and ready to crash upon and install black-out blinds to keep out the light. On the road and in the car, always keep a pair of darkened sunglasses and earplugs. If you carry a bag, include some water and snacks (dehydration and hunger are common migraine triggers). Lastly, noise-cancelling headphones can help too – especially on flights or public transport.