24 August 2018
If you have regular painful headaches that come with disturbed vision, sensitivity to light and smells or feelings of nausea, then you could be suffering from migraine. To coincide with National Migraine Awareness Week (September 2-8) Spire Gatwick Park Hospital’s neurologist, Dr Romi Saha, has advice on how you can help yourself.
One in seven people suffer with migraine which can have an enormous impact on their work, family and social life. It is a complex condition with a wide variety of symptoms that differ depending on the individual, migraine attacks can be so severe for some that they need to lie down for several hours or even days.
You can get migraines for the first time at any age, but people have often had their first one by the time they are 30, and attacks usually get less severe as you get older. As yet, there is no known cure, so start with these self-help tips and make an appointment with your GP if you have migraines several times a month:
- Don’t allow yourself to get dehydrated – drink at least two litres of fluid a day
- Avoid skipping meals
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Reduce the amount of coffee or tea you drink and avoid caffeinated drinks like Red Bull.
- Stick to a routine bedtime and waking up time where possible. Many people find they have a migraine attack at the weekend because of a change in their bedtime routine.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week
Magnesium, riboflavin (a B vitamin) and Co-enzyme Q10 can help ward off a migraine. They can be bought in a supplement form from health food shops or found naturally in the following foods -
Magnesium: dark chocolate, bananas, low fat yogurt, nuts and seeds, avocadoes, soy beans, leafy greens and fish.
Riboflavin: milk, meat, eggs, nuts, enriched flour, and green vegetables
Coenzyme Q 10: chicken, herring, mackerel beef, roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, pistachio nuts, broccoli, cauliflower, oranges, strawberries and soybean oil
- Avoid regular use of OTC medicines, especially those which contain codeine as this can aggravate the headache. Take a painkiller as soon as you feel the headache coming on. However, taking any form of painkiller more than 10 days a month can lead to analgesia overuse which can make the headache worse.
Your GP can recommend effective painkillers, however patients with debilitating symptoms may be referred to a neurologist to rule out other causes of the headache.
*The Migraine Trust has a free advice and information service.