Migraine Treatment

A migraine is an inherited tendency to have headaches with sensory disturbance. These headaches are intense; described as throbbing recurring pain, usually on one side of the head. 

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MIGRAINE TREATMENT

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Migraine treatment

Shop online for fast-acting migraine treatments used to relieve common symptoms of migraine. Complete a free online consultation and fill out a short online questionnaire. Once approved, your medication will be dispatched to you with next-day delivery. 


What is a migraine?

A migraine feels like an intense headache with throbbing recurring pain, usually on one side of the head. The pain is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, light sensitivity and sound sensitivity. Migraines are common, affecting around one in 15 men, and one in five women

 

What are the different types of migraine? 

Not all migraines are the same. There are different types of migraines, and each has distinct symptoms and triggers. The type of symptoms you experience will often play a role in diagnosing what type of migraine you suffer from. 
 

Ocular migraine 

Ocular migraine, also known as retinal migraine, is a type of visual migraine that causes temporary vision loss in one eye, or other visual disturbances such as blind spots, flickering or shimmering lights and zigzag lines.  

Unlike other migraines, which typically cause headache pain, ocular migraine symptoms primarily affect vision. This type of migraine is less common than other types of migraine. 
 

Hemiplegic migraine 

Hemiplegic migraine causes weakness on one side of the body during the aura stage. Symptoms of a hemiplegic migraine are like stroke symptoms, but they do not cause lasting nerve damage.  

Due to the similarity with stroke symptoms, if you experience hemiplegic migraine symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention. 
 

Vestibular migraine 

A vestibular migraine is linked to a nervous system problem. The main symptom is dizziness (vertigo) lasting a few minutes. This sensation is also known as migrainous vertigo and migraine-associated vertigo, which lasts more than a few minutes. You may also experience: 

  • Problems with balance 
  • Confusion 
  • Sensitivity to sound  
  • Extreme sensitivity to motion 

 

People with vestibular migraines do not always suffer headaches.  
 

Migraine with aura 

This type of migraine is sometimes referred to as a classical migraine. It is a severe headache charectisied by intense pain on one side of the head. The pain is usually throbbing, and gets worse when you move. Some people experience warning signs, also known as aura, before the migraine starts. Examples of aura include:  

  • Zigzag lines 
  • Numbness or tingling 
  • Dizziness  
  • Difficulty speaking

 

Around one in three people whom have migraines will experience these warning symptoms (an aura) before a migraine. 
 

Migraine without aura  

This is the most common type of migraine with no warning signs.  

During the attack stage, people that experience a migraine without aura can feel all the normal symptoms of a migraine attack. This type of migraine has three stages; the prodrome stage, the attack stage, and the postdrome stage.  

While there is no aura, if you have this type of migraine, you may experience the following symptoms: 

  • Headache 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Discomfort with bright lights and loud noises 

What causes a migraine?

The cause of migraines is not yet known, although it is understood that both environmental and genetic factors could be influential. It is thought to be caused by abnormal brain activity temporarily affecting nerve signals, chemicals, and blood vessels in the brain. This change in brain activity can be caused by your genes being more susceptible to certain triggers, which in turn causes a migraine attack.  

There are several potential migraine triggers, including: 

  • Menstrual cycle or oestrogen fluctuations 
  • Mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression 
  • Stressful events or environments 
  • Fatigue or changes to sleep patterns 
  • Changes to mealtimes or missed meals 
  • High intake of caffeine and alcoholic drinks 
  • Not exercising enough or intense physical activity 
  • Changes in the weather 

Migraine symptoms

Symptoms can vary from person to person.  One or two days before a migraine, known as the prodrome stage, you may experience: 

  • Extreme fatigue 
  • Stiffness in your neck 
  • Increased yawning  
  • Needing to urinate more than usual 
  • Craving certain foods  
  • Increased thirst 
  • Mood changes 

    

Some people also experience warning signs ahead of a migraine, known as the aura stage. Symptoms in this migraine stage should not last for longer than an hour. You may notice: 

  • Speech problems 
  • Dizziness  
  • Vision loss 
  • Visual phenomena - such as light flashes, bright spots, and shapes 
  • Pins and needles 
  • Numbness on one side of the body 
  • Weakness on one side of the body

 

You should seek the advice of a doctor in the following circumstances: 

  • Before seeking treatment for yourself, it is best to see a GP for a diagnosis  
  • If you are above 40 and you are experiencing headaches for the first time 
  • When your headaches are occurring more often and lasting longer 
  • If you are needing to use migraine relief tablets (such as triptans) more than 10 times a month 
  • When headaches are changing (e.g. you are experiencing new symptoms) 
  • When you have three or more headaches a week  
  • When you need pain relief daily or almost every day for your headache 
  • If you are experiencing slurred speech 
  • If you experience paralysis or weakness of one or both arms or on one side of the face 
  • If you experience a headache accompanied by a high temperature, stiff neck, mental confusion, rash, double vision, or a seizure 
  • A sudden headache-causing agonising pain 

 

In the event of any of the above, it is best to call 111 to seek medical advice. If you experience any of the last four points, call 999. 
 

How long does a migraine last? 

A migraine lasts anywhere between a few hours to several days. Some symptoms can start up to 2 days before the onset of head pain and finish once the headache stops.  

Migraines can occur several times a week for some people, while others do not have them very often. The length of a migraine is influenced by various factors such as the effectiveness of treatment, triggers and a person's response to medications.  


How are migraines diagnosed?

There is no specific test to diagnose migraines. Your doctor may assess your medical history, conduct a physical and neurological examination or tests to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms.  

Keeping a migraine diary and logging frequency, duration, associated symptoms and severity of your headaches, can help both you and your doctor understand what might be triggering your migraines. 


Migraine medication

There are a variety of migraine relief medications that can help to relieve the pain. These include: 

  • Anti-nausea medications 

 

If these treatments are unsuccessful, a new type of medicine called a gepant may be offered to you, which works in a different way to other migraine treatments.  

It is thought to be a good option for people who cannot take triptans, such as those with heart related health risks, people who find triptans ineffective or experienced unpleasant side effects. This is because it prevents blood vessels from dilating, instead of tightening the blood vessel. 
 

What else you can do to get rid of a migraine 

Getting rid of a migraine is different to preventing one. Once a migraine has started, it can be challenging to stop it.  

You may be able to ease symptoms and potentially shorten the duration of a migraine attack by taking migraine medications, such as triptans or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This should be done as soon as symptoms start, as it helps to stop the migraine from progressing.  

Some people also find relief from applying a warm compress or heating pad to the affected area, gently massaging the temples, neck or shoulders or by resting in a quiet, dark room which can help to reduce sensitivity to light and sound.  
 

Can you cure migraines permanently?  

No, there is currently no known permanent cure for migraines.  


How to prevent migraines

You can treat migraines with preventative migraine medication, which helps to decrease their severity, frequency, and duration. You may be advised to take preventative measures if your headaches are severe, frequent or long-lasting and haven’t responded well to treatment for relief. 

Beta blockers (e.g. propranolol)  

Propranolol, metoprolol and timolol belong to a group of medicines called beta blockers which are commonly used to prevent migraines. They block the effects of adrenaline on the heart and blood vessels, and this helps to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.
 

Topiramate 

Topiramate is an effective treatment for preventing migraines and is also used to treat epilepsy. This medication works by stabilizing electrical activity in the brain and reducing the number of migraine attacks.
 

Acupuncture  

Acupuncture is often used as a complementary or alternative therapy for migraine symptoms, usually recommended when migraines are severe. It is thought to stimulate the release of endorphins, our body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals, and may also help to regulate neurotransmitters involved in how we perceive pain.
 

Migraine injections   

Botox injections are administered every 12 weeks which can block neurotransmitters carrying pain signals from the brain.  

CGRP monoclonal antibodies are newer drugs for migraine treatment which are also administered periodically by injection.
 

Gepants 

Some gepants can also be used as a preventive treatment for migraine. An oral tablet is taken every other day, to help reduce the severity and frequency of attacks. 


Sources

  1. NHS UK. (n.d.). Migraine. Retrieved May 10, 2024, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/migraine/

  2. NHS UK. (n.d.). Headaches. Retrieved May 10, 2024, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/headaches/


A headache can cause an unpleasant feeling of pressure and aching. This pain can range from mild to severe and usually affects both sides of the head. They can last anywhere from 30 minutes up to a few days.   

A migraine is a more intense and severe throbbing pain that normally affects one side of the head, although it can affect both sides. This pain can make it difficult to carry out daily tasks.  

Headaches from a migraine are often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, pain at the temples, visual phenomena, vision loss, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, and pain behind one ear or eye.

Yes, it is possible for children to experience migraines. Symptoms are usually like migraines in adults and can occur at any age, including infancy and early childhood. They often first appear in older children and adolescents.

A migraine is not usually dangerous, however certain rare complications associated with migraines can pose risks to health, such as: 

  • Status migrainosus - a severe and prolonged migraine attack lasting more than 72 hours. It may require medical attention to alleviate symptoms and prevent dehydration. 
  • Migraine with brainstem aura - dizziness, double vision, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing. Although rare, it may increase the risk of stroke. 
  • Migrainous infarction - a rare complication where the migraine attack triggers a stroke-like episode, resulting in brain tissue damage.  
  • In rare cases, other complications such as medication overuse headaches, which result from excessive use of pain relievers or serotonin syndrome, which happens when certain medications interact and cause excessive serotonin levels. 

A silent migraine, which is also known as a migraine aura without headache, triggers visual disturbances, sensory changes, or speech difficulties without the subsequent headache. Symptoms develop gradually over several minutes and can last for up to an hour.  

The best choice of migraine medication depends on various factors specific to the person experiencing the migraine. 

Triptans such as sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, and rizatriptan specifically target migraine symptoms and are often effective for relieving moderate to severe migraine pain, as well as nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.  

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are usually the first line of treatment for mild to moderate pain.  

It can be difficult to stop a migraine once it has started. You may be able to shorten a migraine attack by taking migraine medication as soon as symptoms start. Resting in a quiet, dark room can help to reduce sensitivity to light and sound.  

Fluctuations in estrogen levels, especially before or during menstruation, pregnancy or menopause, can bring on migraines in some women.

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