Pounding headaches, blinded by bright lights and nausea…sounds familiar? Then, you’re suffering from migraines. But, you’re not alone, a further 6 million people experience migraines in the UK alone.
What is a migraine?
Unfortunately, we do not know what the primary cause of migraines is. It's suspected that it may be caused by abnormal brain activity that negatively affects nerve signalling, blood flow and neurochemicals. There are several different types of migraine, these include migraines with aura, without aura, and a migraine aura without the headache. An aura can be described as the warning signs before a migraine occurs. This can include seeing flashing lights.
Symptoms of a migraine
Common symptoms include:
- Throbbing sensation in the brain
- Nausea & Sickness
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to sound
- Lack of concentration
Common Causes of a migraine
Common causes of migraine are included below, this is not an exhaustive list:
- Tiredness and Shift work
- Menstrual Cycle and Hormones
- Caffeine and Alcohol
Tips to help Migraines
A better sleep schedule
Sleep or lack thereof can be one of the leading causes of migraines. This can be seen most commonly in students, and shift workers. The advice would be to try to get 8+ hours sleep. That being said, it’s not only about the quantity of sleep, but quality too. The body needs enough REM, ‘quality’ sleep. If you need more tips for better sleep, you could try the following;
- Set a sleep schedule and try to stick to it
- Minimise screen time
- Turn on your blue light filter
- Reduce caffeine after 2pm
- Reduce simple sugars in the evening
- Try not to eat too late in the evening, or close to bedtime
- Try Vytaliving’s Calm & Sleepeazzze Tablets
Alcohol is considered to be a well-known migraine trigger. Know your limits and stick to them. If you can manage only one glass of wine without the onset of a migraine, then always stick to just one glass. The cause is thought to be because alcohol is a vasodilator which can cause a surge of blood to the brain, which can bring on headaches and migraines.
Manage your hormones
One common cause of migraines in women is the menstrual cycle and related hormones. According to the national migraine centre, more than ½ of women who get migraines notice a link between the onset of their migraines and their time of the month. Some women experience this in the days leading up to their period, and others experience them afterwards. One suggestion is to be prepared each time of the month with medication and or therapeutic help. Or, try a form of hormonal contraception, but first work out which hormone causes your migraines, and opt for the combined or progesterone-only pill.
Minimise Stress and Anxiety
Studies have shown that stress, anxiety and related hormones can stimulate emotional or anxiety-provoked migraines. Do what you can to minimise stress, including:
- Seeking professional support for stress management.
- Speak to your GP about medication options to reduce anxiety
- Start exercising regularly
- Try to offload non-essential tasks
Minimise Bright Lights
Light sensitivity is a common cause of migraines. The eye can receive stimulus from bright lights and LED screens. This sends a signal down the optical nerve, this pulse like nerve signal can stimulate a headache. This is why office workers of people who stare at computer or phone screens all day can often suffer from migraines. You are recommended to take regular breaks away from screens and bright lights, try to face natural light during the day, take an eye break from your computer screen. In the evening turn off the main light of the room and try to relax in more mellow lightning.
Stay Hydrated & well-nourished
Poor hydration and low blood sugar can initiate a migraine. If you are the kind of person that skips meals or is a serial dehydrator and find that you also suffer from regular headaches and migraines then this tip is for you. You need to make time for meals, or if your day doesn't allow it, have nourishing snacks to hand. Another tip is to carry a water bottle with you throughout the day to maintain hydration. Finally, avoid skipping meals as this can cause your blood sugars to plummet.
Seek help with medication
If you have tried all the tips and tricks, and just need the help of medication then there are options for you. The classification of medication needed is called ‘triptans’. The most common drug used is called ‘sumatriptan’.