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3 things you didn’t know about migraines

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mirgraine awareness week

As it’s Migraine Awareness Week, we thought we’d highlight three lesser-known facts about the world’s third-most common disease, including symptoms and causes

Throbbing head pain, nausea, vomiting – migraine sufferers know it’s more than ‘just a bad headache’. Even if you’ve never had one, you probably know someone who has, so you understand how bad migraine symptoms can be. But as it’s Migraine Awareness Week 2018, we thought we’d highlight three lesser-known facts about the world’s third-most common disease.

1. There are at least nine types of migraine

There is a huge variety of migraine types. Migraine without aura is the most common, with around 70-90% of migraine sufferers experiencing this type. Usually, attacks last between 4 and 72 hours and migraine symptoms consist of pain on one side of the head, sickness, diarrhoea, often accompanied by a sensitivity to light.

If you add visual disturbances into the mix this becomes a new condition: migraine with aura. The symptoms are largely the same, but with the addition of coloured spots in your vision, stars or visual impairment in both eyes. Although less frequent than a migraine without aura, it’s estimated that around 10-30% of sufferers experience this type of migraine.

Visual migraine, or ocular migraine, is a completely separate condition causing eye migraine symptoms. It can give sufferers all the visual impairments of migraine with aura, but without the headache. Visual migraines are thought to be caused by constricted blood vessels reducing blood flow to the visual area of the brain. Visual disturbances tend to last up to 30 minutes, and sufferers may be left with a dull headache or general feeling of tiredness/fatigue afterwards.

Want to find out about other types of migraine? Take a look at the Migraine Trust’s helpful info.

2. Women are more prone to migraines than men

 It’s estimated that around three times more women are affected by migraines than men. It’s thought this imbalance may be due to hormonal changes affecting women.

Menstrual migraine is a specific condition where the timing of attacks is directly linked to a woman’s menstrual cycle. Associated with falling levels of oestrogen, it’s most likely to occur either in the two days leading up to a period or first three days of a period. However, this type of migraine is rare, believed to affect fewer than 10% of women.

3. Migraines can be triggered

 A change in lifestyle, a particular smell, perhaps even a new taste – these can all trigger migraines. Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to pinpoint the exact trigger. It can precede the attack by a few days, though this window can be as small as six or seven hours.

So what can cause migraines? Common triggers often include caffeine, certain food and drinks such as red wine, cheese & chocolate, lack of sleep, stress and dehydration.

Getting your head around migraines

If you want to find out more about migraines, browse the extensive resources on the Migraine Trust website or take a look at the NHS’s useful information.

Book an eye test today

If you suspect a visual migraine or you’re just worried about the health of your eyes, our friendly team here at Leightons will be able to help. Call us to book an eye test on 0800 40 20 20 or drop into your local Leightons branch. You can also book an eye test with us online

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