Migraines are relatively common. Symptoms can vary from person to person, and are most commonly nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. They’re more common in women – affecting one in five, compared to one in 15 men.
A migraine can last from four to 72 hours and can occur from once a year to several times a week.
If you have migraines regularly, it can affect your work, family and social life.
The two main types of migraine are migraine without aura or migraine with aura.
Migraine without aura
Most people experience migraines without aura. This type of migraine is usually felt as a throbbing headache on one side of your head, often with other migraine symptoms such as:
Migraine with aura
Migraine with aura is where you experience many or all of the symptoms of a migraine without aura with additional neurological migraine symptoms including:
Ocular migraine (retinal migraine) is a separate condition that causes brief blindness or vision problems in one eye.
If you have frequent or severe migraines, you should see your GP.
There’s no test to diagnose migraines, so your doctor will make a diagnosis based on your medical history, symptoms and by ruling out other causes.
Seek urgent medical attention if you experience:
These are symptoms of serious conditions including stroke and meningitis.
It’s not known what causes migraines. About half of all people who get migraines have a close family member who also gets them, suggesting that there may be a genetic link.
Some people find that their migraines are triggered by certain things such as:
There’s no cure for migraines but there are things that can help manage the symptoms.
Medications that may help are:
If medications don’t help, you can try:
Sometimes, the best method to manage your migraines is simply to prevent them. You can try:
If these don’t help, your doctor may be able to prescribe medication that can prevent migraines.