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Migraines


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.


Sumatriptan vs Rizatriptan: How Do the Two Migraine Drugs Stack Up

Posted Thursday 19 November 2015 12:56 by Tim Deakin in Migraines

migraine suffererThere are many different migraine relief treatments on the market, but knowing which option is best for alleviating the crippling pain of your migraines can be tricky.

Let’s take a closer look at two of the more popular treatments, Sumatriptan and Rizatriptan.

How do Sumatriptan and Rizatriptan work?

Although the cause of migraines is not fully understood, it is thought that the symptoms may come from the widening of blood vessels in the brain.

Sumatriptan and Rizatriptan are both in the ‘triptan’ or 5HT class of drugs, used in the treatment of acute migraine attacks and cluster headaches. 5HT medicines stimulate the receptors of serotonin in the brain, causing blood vessels to narrow and pain to subside.

How long do Sumatriptan and Rizatriptan take to work?

Pain relief is typically faster with Rizatriptan than Sumatriptan. When taken in tablet form, Rizatriptan (10mg) can be expected to take effect in as little as 30 minutes. Sumatriptan (100mg) typically takes nearer to an hour to offer effective relief from migraine symptoms, with results peaking between two to for hours after the dose.

In roughly 80% of patients, both medications significantly reduce within two hours.

Both Sumatriptan and Rizatriptan should only be taken once the symptoms of migraine appear, and should not be used as a preventative measure against migraines.

Are there any side effects to either Sumatriptan or Rizatriptan?

Both Sumatriptan and Rizatriptan can cause similar side effects. The most commonly reported complaints are: mild headache (not a migraine), dry mouth, mild nausea, pressure or heavy feeling in any part of your body, dizziness, drowsiness, tired feeling, and redness or mild tingling under the skin.

Should a migraine sufferer experience any other side affects after taking either of these medications, such as swelling of the face or lips, tightness of the chest or any blue tinges to the skin, it is important to stop taking the tablets and seek medical attention immediately.

How much do they cost?

Rizatriptan prices start from around £11 for 3 tablets of 5mg through Express Pharmacy, with prices varying depending on quantity and dosage. Sumatriptan starts at around £10 for 6 tablets of 50mg. Branded Sumatriptan (Imigran) is also offered as a nasal spray through Express Pharmacy, costing £27 for two 10mg sprays.

How effective are Rizatriptan and Sumatriptan?

Patient reviews state that both drugs are effective at reliving the symptoms of migraine. However, Rizatriptan is regarded as a faster-acting drug that achieves longer lasting results..

Express Head Pharmacist, Daman Bhamra, says: “Migraines are painful and debilitating for anyone, but some will suffer more than others. For those who find no relief from traditional painkillers such as paracetamol and ibruprofen, there are other treatments out there that are very effective.

“Both Sumatriptan and Rizatriptan are migraine specific treatments and are extremely effective at eliminating the symptoms of migraine. The treatments work most effectively when taken early, so its is recommended to have the medicine in your home ready for an attack, if you are a known sufferer of migraines.

“However, it’s important to remember that these medications only ease the symptoms, they do not treat the underlying cause of the migraine. If you are worried about any headaches you’ve been experiencing, or if they are new for you and accompanied by vomiting, changes to your vision or other suspicious symptoms, our pharmacists are able to offer helpful advice.”

If you want to find out more about which migraine treatment might be best for you, talk to one of our qualified pharmacists today, on 0208 123 0703, or visit our website to find out more www.expresspharmacy.co.uk.


Bad Head Day? 190,000 Others Are Sharing Your Pain

Posted Monday 16 March 2015 15:18 by Tim Deakin in Migraines

According to statistics from health and medical research charity The Migraine Trust, there are 190,000 migraine attacks in the UK every single day. And with 8 millions sufferers in the UK alone, it is the most common neurological condition.

A symptom of abnormal brain activity, migraines can attack with great intensity and debilitating results. These often include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Intolerance for light, noise or smells
  • Inability to function properly

As many as 1 in 5 victims of migraines are even afflicted by visual or auditory hallucinations known as aura, but the effects of migraines can be wide ranging. It is for this reason that migraines are often misunderstood or misrepresented in the public eye.

How long do migraines last?

The duration of a migraine can vary hugely. Some people are relatively fortunate and suffer from headaches that last an hour or two; others can be afflicted for days.

Post-migraine fatigue can still affect an individual’s ability to work, exercise or function normally for days after the worst of the pain has subsided.

What triggers a migraine?

Again, it is difficult to pigeon-hole the triggers for migraines because they can be wide ranging and vary from person to person. There is also much that is still unknown about migraines, which can make it hard to diagnose, predict or treat. Some of the most common triggers are:

  • Stress
  • Tiredness
  • Trauma
  • Period onset
  • Foods

More common than epilepsy, asthma and diabetes combined, migraines attacks two people every second of the day on average in Britain. And due to close connections with period problems they are thought to affect twice as many women as men.

The damage done by migraines

Despite being so widespread, migraines receive less funding than almost any other neurological illness. This is an astounding figure when we consider the social and economic damage caused by migraines.

It is estimated that depression is three times more common in people with migraines or severe headaches than in healthy individuals. Due to a lack of awareness and appreciation for the implications of migraines, less than half of sufferers consult their GP about headache issues. Nevertheless, the annual cost of migraine medication in this country is £150million per year.

Here are some more shocking migraine stats:

  • 25million working days are lost due to migraine-related sick days
  • Migraine-related sick leave is thought to cost £2.25billion a year

How can migraines be treated?

Sadly, there is no definitive cure for migraines. and although sufferers have tried everything from cycling to electro-therapy to reduce their onset, there are no guarantees of resolving the problem altogether. Instead, there are a number of tried and tested steps that can help reduce frequency and intensity. These include:

  • Taking steps to de-stress
  • Maintaining a good sleep routine
  • Avoiding strain on the eyes
  • Eating a balanced diet and avoiding any trigger foods
  • Keeping coffee consumption to a minimum
  • Staying hydrated

There are also some effective prescription medications on the market today to combat the effects of migraines. These include, Rizatriptan, Sumatriptan, Zolmtriptan and a number of other variations on these migraine relief medications.

Comments

Ellen on Saturday 21 March 2015 09:52

What about Imatrex, I take 1 when I start the auras: ie flashing lights on both sides of my periferal vision, just bright lights, eyes feel bruised, had a 19 day Migraine & Neurologist gave me 2 steroid shots, one at night & one in morning finally they left, no sleep, no relief from pain Hard Chest pains besides before steroids ALL put me in the hospital

Reply

More needs to be done for migraine sufferers concludes new Parliamentary group

Posted Sunday 18 January 2015 23:28 by Tim Deakin in Migraines

migraine treatment

With a massive 6.7 million migraine sufferers in England alone, it is surprising that the condition earns such little attention from the media and policy makers.

It appears, though, that reforms are on their way, and migraine sufferers may be able to look forward to a brighter future if a new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Primary Headache Disorders (APPGPHD) achieve their targets to highlight and raise awareness of the key issues affecting sufferers and their families.

The Group is lookingin detail at whether the current healthcare system is doing enough to support migraine sufferers and if more support could be offered by health professionals. With the number of neurologists in relation to the population thought to be up to 10 times lower than in some EU countries, it is expected that the Group will not have to look far in identifying areas of improvement.

Measures that could be recommended by the APPGPHD include: better headache training for GPs; better training for nurses on the symptoms and treatments available for migraines and more specialist ‘headache nurses’ (currently only 11 in England); an increase in the number of specialist clinics across the UK.

 

Why should migraine treatment be top of the agenda?migraine medication

Currently, less than half of us who suffer from migraines consult a doctor about our condition and it is thought that a large number of people go undiagnosed and/or under-treated for a significant length of time before receiving adequate health care.

Headache disorders are known to not only impact on the lives of sufferers, but also on family and friends. And with other issues attributed to migraines including depression, low self esteem and, in severe cases, even suicide, the APPGPHD’s review can’t come soon enough.

With an estimated 20 million days a year missed by employees and students due to primary headache disorders, the All-Party Parliamentary Group will also be aware that it isn’t just the direct cost to the NHS that is at stake but the wider implications for the economy.

According to Jim Fitzpatrick, the MP who will chair the panel:

“There are large gains to be made by treating headache appropriately for the patient, the NHS, the economy and wider society.

“We have a significant way to go before the provision of services and support is sufficient to address the burden of primary headache disorders across England.”

 

Migraine treatments from Express Pharmacy

Pharmacists are well placed to offer guidance and advice to migraine sufferers. At Express Pharmacy we offer a range of migraine treatments and medications as well as advice and guidance to those suffering from a primary headache disorder.

Book a consultation online today or speak to one of our fully-qualified pharmacists on 0208 123 0703.


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