Migraines

What is a migraine?

            Migraines are more than just typical headaches. While there is typically a severe headache involved, there is also the possibility that a person will feel sensitivity to light and/or sound, pain in the face or neck, and nauseousness. When a person has a migraine, they will often also feel either very cold or hot, have stomach pain, and may even have difficulty concentrating. Some people who get migraines experience what is called an “aura.” According to the NHS, about 1 in 3 people who get migraines experience an aura, or temporary warning symptoms, before the actual migraine begins. The symptoms of an aura include temporary vision problems or loss, feelings of numbness/tingling throughout the body, dizziness, and difficulty speaking. These symptoms can last for up to one hour before the migraine begins. Once the migraine actually begins, it can last anywhere between 4 to 72 hours.

What causes a migraine?

            While migraines are still not completely understood by the medical community, a person’s genetics and environment seem to play a big role in them. If you are more susceptible to getting migraines, there are a multitude of things that may trigger them. Something as simple as a strong smell of perfume or cologne can bring one on, in the same way experiencing loud noises can. In addition to these things, stress, lack of sleep, alcohol, certain medications, and hormonal changes can all trigger a migraine.

How can migraines impact me as a carer?

            Because carers are more predisposed to being stressed and lacking sleep, they may be especially at risk getting migraines if they are predisposed to them. Carers understandably have to devote much of their time to caring for their loved one(s), but if they have a migraine, they may be unable to fulfill their caring responsibilities. As previously mentioned, migraines can last for 4-72 hours. Being unable to help the person they care for an extended amount of time can be a tough situation to handle, especially if they do not have a support system to help pick up the slack. If there is nobody else to help the carer care for their loved one, they may try to push through the migraine to continue caring. This, understandably, can be very painful. The good news is that if you are a carer that is predisposed to getting migraines, there are many things that you can do to both prevent and treat them! Struggling to manage your migraines along with your caring responsibilities can be difficult and disheartening both physically and mentally. If this is the case for you, click here to find out how our advice line can help!

How can I prevent and treat migraines?

            What triggers one person’s migraine may not be the same trigger for another. Knowing what triggers your migraines is important so that you know what to avoid. Following a healthy, balanced diet is important to prevent many health-related issues, including migraines. Foods that are high in magnesium, such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, have been linked to fewer migraines in some individuals. Foods such as chocolate, caffeinated beverages, red wine, alcohol, and processed foods are foods that people have identified as common triggers. Exercising regularly can also prevent migraines. Running and yoga seem to be connected to the greatest benefits. While it is not a good idea to try and go for a run in the middle of a migraine, exercising releases endorphins which can help you fight pain and ease stress on the body, ultimately preventing the onset of one.

If you do find yourself getting migraines despite the preventative measures taken, there are luckily things that you can do to help ease the symptoms. Simply lying down in a dark, quiet room can help tremendously. In addition to this, placing a cool washcloth on the eyes or forehead can help take the edge off slightly. Taking over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, is also helpful for some people. With this, though, it is important to remember to take the proper dosage because overuse of over-the-counter medications can actually make the migraine’s symptoms worse. If your migraines are unmanageable and hinder your quality of life, you may need to see a GP to get different medications and care.