Most of us have experienced headaches, even bad ones. But migraines are something else again. “They are headaches with special symptoms”, say Self Care pharmacists.
A migraine headache is severe, can last for many hours—even days, and is of a throbbing nature. The pain usually is felt on one side of your head, although it can spread to the other side. During a migraine ‘attack’ you may become very sensitive to light, noise and movement. You may also feel sick, and some people vomit.
Not every migraine sufferer knows when he or she will get a migraine but some people get early-warning signs that one is on the way. About a day or so before a migraine, you may start craving for sweet foods, yawn a lot, or feel irritable and withdrawn. Some get what is called an ‘aura’—a kind of premonition. These people see shimmering or zigzag lines, or lose vision in one eye, or both eyes.The ‘aura’ can happen up to an hour before the headache, or just five minutes before.
Women tend to get migraine more often than men—due to changing hormone levels, especially around menstruation time. They get less frequent after menopause. Children can get migraines. Those who do often complain of tummy ache. If your child gets lots of tummy aches for no obvious reason, get it checked-out with your doctor. It could be a migraine. There are many theories about what causes migraine.
Certain ‘triggers’ are thought to change blood flow to the brain and cause chemicals to be released that result in the migraine. “Some foods—like cheese, chocolate, wines or citrus fruits – are ‘triggers’ for some people,” advise Self Care pharmacists, “but don’t go depriving yourself of particular foods unless you know for sure that they bring-on your migraines”. Lack of sleep, missing meals, or high levels of stress also can bring-on migraines.
Most migraines last only a few hours but some people have very bad ‘attacks’ that last for anything up to three days. Resting or sleeping in a quiet dark room can help. It is common for most people to complain of feeling ‘washed out’ after a migraine and it may take a few days to feel like yourself again.
Talk further with your Self Care pharmacist about migraines and medicines used to treat them. Ask for a copy of the Migraine fact card that provides helpful self care tips on possible ways to avoid ‘trigging’ migraines, and how to manage them.