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Winter’s Last Laugh: The Migraine

Posted Thursday 08 February 2018 12:04 by Tim Deakin in Migraines

There are 190,000 migraine attacks in the UK every day, and winter only makes things worse

There’s a big difference between a migraine and a run-of-the-mill headache, as anyone who has ever experienced a migraine will know. Migraines are painful, throbbing attacks in the head which cause the UK population to lose 25 million days of work or school each year. It is the single most common neurological condition in the world, affecting around one in every seven people, but for many people migraines are far more common in winter months.

So now that the end of winter is finally in sight, it’s important to stay as safe and healthy as possible in these last few weeks before spring makes its welcome return. Let’s take a closer look at why exactly your migraine attacks are worse in winter, and what you can do to reduce your risk of experiencing migraines over the next few weeks.

Why are migraines worse in winter?

Changes provoke attacks

Sudden changes from warm to cold temperatures, or cold to warm, are known to cause head pain as your body tries to adjust to your new climate quickly. This is relevant at the start of winter when the weather first begins to get colder, but is also a significant factor throughout the season and at the end when spring approaches. Winter fluctuations in temperature tend to be more dramatic than those in summer, as some people find that simply moving from a cold street to a warm house (or vice versa) is enough to bring on a migraine.

Keeping a regular temperature in your home, and wrapping up outside, will help regulate your own temperature too. This means making sure your insulation is up to scratch, using draught excluders, and wearing a scarf, gloves and — in particular — a hat when you go outside.

You’re more likely to be dehydrated

Dehydration is a common migraine trigger, and unfortunately you’re more likely to be dehydrated in the winter than in the summer. Not only do we tend to drink less water in the winter in favour of tea and coffee, we also have to deal with winds, indoor heaters and fluctuations in barometric pressure which can all create dry air conditions.

Simply staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids is the best way to avoid dehydrating migraine attacks. You can also avoid excess alcohol intake and introduce more hydrating fruits and vegetables into your diets, like red peppers and watermelon.

Less natural light, more artificial light

With winter comes shorter days, which we’re still dealing with as we watch the sun set before 5pm every day. This forces us to rely more heavily on artificial lights, even during the day when the weather is grey and dull. Long hours of harsh, bright lights are another common migraine trigger, which is why it is often advised that you lie down in a cool dark room when a migraine does strike.

Where possible, you should opt for softer lighting options and avoid staring at screens like your laptop or smartphone for long periods of time. This is particularly important in the hour before you go to bed, as exposure to bright lights can make it more difficult to fall asleep.

You’re not moving as much

When it’s cold and dark outside, we’re less likely to feel the urge to leave the house, whether it’s for a morning gym session or a Sunday walk with the family. The result of this is more time spent sitting in front of the television.

Research shows that regular exercise can help reduce migraine symptoms, with one study stating that exercising for 40 minutes three times a week can reduce migraine attacks by 25%. Even vigorous housework can get your heart rate rising enough to improve your physical fitness.

If you suffer from regular migraines and are looking for fast, effective relief, Express Pharmacy offers prescription migraine medication that can be ordered online. We even offer next day delivery options on orders placed before 12pm.

Migraine Awareness Week 2017 Starts on 3rd September

Posted Friday 01 September 2017 11:02 by Tim Deakin in Migraines

A huge 1 in 7 people live with regular migraines, leading to over 190,000 migraine attacks a day in the UK alone. This makes migraines the third most common disease in the world. It’s more prevalent than asthma, epilepsy and diabetes combined, and more than three quarters of people who have migraines experience them at least once a month.

It’s figures like these which show just how important an event like Migraine Awareness Week 2017 is, as we’re all bound to know someone who suffers from this extreme pain. We’re here to tell you a little more about migraines, and explain how to treat migraines and what you can do to get involved in this fantastic awareness event.

The information you need about how to treat migraines

You’d be forgiven for thinking that migraines are nothing more than strong headaches, but the truth is they’re a lot more severe than that. A migraine is a complex neurological disorder which is recognised by the World Health Organisation as one of the most disabling lifestyle conditions, as many people suffer from migraines for years and feel the impact on their work, family and social lives. In fact, 25 million days of work or school are missed due to migraines every year in the UK. This costs £2.25 billion.

Although there is no one cause for migraines, an attack is often brought on by a range of factors including noise, light, stress, insomnia, dehydration, general inactivity and overexposure to computers and other screens. Symptoms include blurred vision, light sensitivity, nausea and insomnia alongside the obvious pressure and pain in the head.

Self-care is key to understanding how to treat migraines and make them more manageable. This includes taking the time to keep active through gentle stretches and exercises, and even activities like yoga and pilates. Adjusting light levels can also be helpful, as can reducing your temperature with a cold flannel. Many GPs advise that sufferers get into the habit of staying hydrated, and sometimes it’s even recommended that you visit a chiropractor as head pain can sometimes be linked to a spinal issue.

However, there is no definitive answer for how to treat migraines, and for some people it becomes a lifelong affliction. Yet despite how severe and debilitating migraines can be, very little is known about the disorder and awareness is low. That’s where Migraine Awareness Week 2017 steps in.

How can you get involved in Migraine Awareness Week 2017?

Migraine Awareness Week 2017 is being organised by the Migraine Trust, who work tirelessly to increase migraine awareness. They encourage those wishing to get involved in the event to explore their resources, including their social media accounts and their online quizzes and fact sheets on how to treat migraines and how to spot them.

You can also talk to family and friends about migraines. How much do they know, and do any of them suffer from the condition? What’s their experience? You can let them know about the awareness week and any upcoming events taking place.

Speaking of events, why not host your own fundraising event or even do something as simple as printing out a poster to hang in your place of work to help people stay informed on the condition? The Migraine Trust is a charity organization, so you can also make a donation so that they can continue their work into increasing awareness, reducing stigmas and providing support for sufferers and researchers trying to understand how to treat migraines once and for all.

Express Pharmacy offer advice, diagnosis and treatment on how to treat migraines from the comfort of your own home

For more information about how to treat migraines, chat to us via our online Live Chat tool, or call us today on 0208 123 0703. We can prescribe the right migraine relief medication for your situation and also advise on any lifestyle factors which may be contributing to your problem.

Related Categories: Migraine Relief

Why You Don’t Need to Learn to Live With Migraines

Posted Wednesday 03 May 2017 21:46 by Tim Deakin in Migraines

migraine treatmentIf you suffer from migraines, then you do not suffer alone. Migraines are an extremely common affliction, with over 190,000 migraine attacks taking place every day in the UK.

And migraines are not just simple headaches. They can be debilitating and extremely painful, and yet many sufferers resign themselves to simply learning to live with the condition.

However, there are ways to treat the condition effectively. From actions you can undertake yourself to chiropractic aid and effective medications, you shouldn’t have to put up with your migraines.

What are migraines?

It is true that migraines are a form of headaches, but they are particularly intense, often signalled by a throbbing in the front or back of the head. Whilst many of us can ignore a headache and get on with our day, the pain and pressure caused by a migraine is a primary health concern for most sufferers.

This pressure is often combined with other symptoms such as blurred vision, sensitivity to light, insomnia and nausea, making it even more debilitating.

So what causes a migraine? Migraines are extremely common and can be caused by a range of factors. These include stress, noise, light, insomnia, dehydration and the increased use of computers and other screens alongside being generally inactive.

What can you do to treat your migraines?

Self-care is key when it comes to migraine treatment. There are several things you can do to try and alleviate your symptoms.

Make sure you keep active. In modern society, jobs often require sitting in front of a screen for long stretches of time, and this can be a big contributor to migraines. Aim to get up and walk a little every 30 minutes, and take the time to rotate your head and neck slowly when sitting to release some of the tension your muscles are holding. You can also incorporate light yoga and stretching into your day before or after work to help relieve stress and strain.

Pay attention to your teeth and jaws. It may sound odd, but many of us clench our jaws or grind our teeth without realising, and this is a huge contributor to increasing pressure which can lead to tension headaches.

Keep hydrated. Aim to drink eight large glasses of water a day to avoid any head pressure caused by dehydration.

Visit a chiropractor. Taking a trip to the chiropractor can offer expert advice and allows you to work with a professional to adjust any areas of your body which may be leading to your migraines such as your neck, shoulders and back. Head pain is often linked to an issue somewhere else in your body, particularly your central nervous system. Chiropractic can treat these issues and the results are long-lasting and effective.

What medications are available?

Medication is the most instant treatment for your migraines, and there are a lot of options available. This includes sumatriptan, which aims to counter the chemical imbalance that often causes swelling and throbbing in the head.

Imigran is another effective treatment, which stimulates receptors in the brain that reduce the swelling of blood vessels relieving pressure. Both of these treatments work on alleviating your migraine within 30 minutes.

Other medications are also available, including imigran in the form of a nasal spray.

Find all of these effective medications and more at Express Pharmacy

The Many Causes of Migraines

Posted Friday 19 August 2016 20:19 by Tim Deakin in Migraines

migraine reliefScience has never truly been able to pin down the exact reasons why we experience migraines. Many of us will know from our own experiences that certain factors can trigger this often debilitating condition, but with so much conflicting anecdotal evidence, how do we know what to change in order to combat the problem?

If you’ve been getting migraines lately and you aren’t sure what has been causing them, have a look at our list to see if anything rings true for you.

1. Hormonal changes in women

Studies have found that migraines affect women at a rate three times higher than they affect men. On average, 1 in 5 women are plagued by migraines compared to 1 in 15 men. The difference is likely due to the hormonal fluctuations that women experience throughout their menstrual cycle.

Many women who suffer from menstrual related migraines will experience them in the few days before or after their cycle, but others experience them at other times within the month. It may be useful to keep a diary of your menstrual cycle and any migraines you experience – if they seem to occur at a regular time each month, it is likely that they are triggered by the fluctuations of oestrogen in your body.

For many women, migraines symptoms abate once they experience the menopause. On the flip side, the menopause can also trigger migraines in women who have never experienced them before, or even make them worse for long-term sufferers.

2. Emotional triggers

Migraines can also be triggered by a wide range of emotions, regardless of gender. Perhaps most commonly, stress and anxiety are emotions which can trigger migraines in some people, with those suffering from depression or anxiety disorders reporting increased experience of migraines. Shock and even sometimes excitement are also potential triggers. It can be hard to pin down exactly which emotion is making you ill, so it may be useful to think about the events surrounding your migraine in more general terms.

Planning a holiday and getting bad news, for example, may seem like completely separate events on the surface – however, more generally, they can both be described as stressful. Thinking in this way may help you establish what has been causing your migraines.

3. Physical triggers

It is not just strong emotions that can cause migraines – physical factors can also be potential triggers. Sleep, or lack thereof, is one major cause of migraines amongst many people. Whether it is poor quality sleep – think an uncomfortable position or many interruptions – or just plain exhaustion, many people report that tiredness is a migraine trigger for them.

Shift workers, or other people who sleep irregularly, can experience migraines a lot more than other people for this reason. Even jet lag can result in a migraine! Some types of joint pain, such as that in the neck or shoulder which is caused by poor posture, can cause tension and lead to migraines too. It is also worth pointing out that strenuous exercise, for those who are unfit or otherwise not used to working out, can potentially trigger migraines and other health problems. For that reason, it is best to start slowly when exercising for the first time or after a long break or injury.

4. Dietary triggers

Perhaps an easier trigger to pin down is food. Eating certain foods can cause almost immediate migraines for some people. Chocolate, caffeine, citrus fruits and even alcohol are common triggers, but some are a little harder to avoid.

The food additive tyramine, found in pork and fermented foods such as aged cheese, soy products and yoghurt, has been linked to migraines in people who are sensitive to it. As it is tyramine which is linked to migraines, not the food which contains it, many people do not realise that they have this sensitivity. If you’re experiencing migraines at mealtimes but can’t link them to one particular food, try cutting down on tyramine-rich foods and see if it makes a difference.

Other less-specific dietary triggers include dehydration and missed or irregular meals.

5. Environmental triggers

For some people, migraines may occur due to changes in the environment. Flashing, bright lights or flickering screens are common triggers for both migraine sufferers and people with other neurological disorders such as epilepsy. Additionally, strong smells, smoke and generally stuffy environments can cause migraine attacks.

Even environmental changes more generally, such as high humidity or the cold, can be a problem for some people. Much like with the other triggers, it is important to consider every aspect of the atmosphere surrounding your migraine – even something as mundane as the weather. This could be key in figuring out why you’re experiencing this potentially incapacitating problem.

Whatever you may attribute your migraines to, it is important never to suffer in silence. Take a look at our migraine medications such as Sumatriptan and Zomig today. Or why not consult with one of our experienced pharmacists for more valuable advice and information?

Migraines in the Workplace – More Than Just a Poor Excuse for a Sick Day

Posted Friday 22 January 2016 15:19 by Tim Deakin in Migraines

migraine treatmentOften seen as a glorified headache, the migraine is deemed to be a poor excuse for a sick day and an easy way out for someone who wants to get out of work, but as chronic sufferers will tell you, the condition can be particularly debilitating with its symptoms making even everyday tasks difficult.

What exactly is a migraine?

Whilst symptoms vary from person to person, a migraine is generally classed as a severe headache with throbbing pain to the front or side of the head. More common in women than men, migraines typically begin in early adulthood and can strike occasionally or more frequently depending on their type. Migraines are associated with a range of additional symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, light and sound sensitivity, body temperature fluctuations, excessive perspiration, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

In more severe cases, migraine sufferers have experienced paralysis, slurred speech, fever, seizures, mental confusion and double vision with the condition itself pointing to more serious ailments such as meningitis.

What should employees know?

Whether your migraines are days, months or years apart, chances are you won’t want to let them get in the way of your career ambitions. But as an employee it is your responsibility to declare migraines as an existing medical condition on your application form.

Unfortunately, regular sufferers may require considerable time off work to handle the debilitating symptoms of migraines. For that reason, it is imperative that you fully disclose the nature of your condition to avoid the risk of disciplinary procedures associated with extended absences.

There are various steps you can take to reduce the frequency of migraines and limit the effects of symptoms in and around the workplace. Under Health and Safety guidelines, your employer should also make reasonable adjustments to assist you in your endeavours, no matter how big or small the organisation.

Handling migraines

Understanding the symptoms and any possible triggers associated with your condition is the first and most important step to finding an effective solution for the reduction of migraines, a process that can take many sufferers some time. There is no cure for migraines, but keeping a diary can help determine what prompts episodes, what factors make symptoms better to manage or more difficult, and what, if any, warning signs are present.

Every migraine sufferer is different, but shortly before a migraine you may find that you experience unusual cravings, heightened senses, increased irritability, mental confusion or speech difficulties. There are also certain triggers associated with the onset of a migraine, with the consumption of sugary snacks, dairy products and caffeinated drinks a common cause. Being exposed to strong scents and staring at a computer screen for extended periods of time without a break can also lead to migraines.

Drinking lots of water and opting for snacks that stabilise blood sugar levels can stop migraines in their tracks. Similarly, investing in an anti-glare filter for your computer, taking regular breaks, getting some fresh air, avoiding bright sunlight and calling on a few relaxing, deep breathing exercises can also offer light relief. Remember you don’t have to suffer in silence, medical assistance is available via both your GP and qualified pharmacists.

If you are looking for migraine treatment to help you handle your condition, Express Pharmacy has a range of migraine medications, available for home delivery the very next day.