A Pain in the Brain

This week (September 4th) is Migraine Awareness WeekSo to celebrate Dreaming Aloud decided to get one herself to show solidarity with the 1 in 7 sufferers in the UK!

I suffered with migraine every couple of weeks from my late teens to mid twenties. The birth of my first child seemed to settle them down and I only got one every six months or so, which was a blessed relief. But the emergence of two more kiddies in quick succession who don’t like to sleep much at night equal a mega resurgence of migraines. 

What is migraine? 
First things first, it is NOT just a bad headache. That’s like calling a bad cold the flu. They are different in severity and the level of disability they cause. Migraine are sometimes preceded by disturbed vision, flashing lights and geometric patterns in the visual field. It can be triggered by any number of things, including bright or flashing lights, lack of food or sleep, strong smells.Migraine is often described as one-sided, intense pulsing, throbbing, bruising feeling pain in the head.

It is usually accompanied by heightened sensitivity to light, smell and sound, as well as nausea and sometimes vomiting. In women, migraine is often tied to changes in hormonal levels preceding their period. Other triggers involve anxiety, stress, or relaxation after stress. More women than men get migraines because they are often tied to the menstrual cycle. The World Health Organization has classified migraine as one of the top 20 most disabling lifetime conditions.

So let’s examine the triggers for me this week…
Family history – tick
Lack of sleep – tick
Anger/ stress – tick
Eating trigger foods such as chocolate, alcohol, especially red wine – tick
Preceding menstruation – tick
Low to moderate dehydration – tick
Anxious, shallow breathing – tick
Muscle tension in shoulders/ neck – tick
Flashing lights/ screen – tick, courtesy of The Smurf movie!
So really it was guaranteed!

According to a Yahoo article on the subject: 

“For many years, scientists thought migraines were caused by the dilation and constriction of blood vessels in the head.
But current research indicates that migraine may be caused by inherited abnormalities in genes that control certain brain activities.
Scientists hope to identify specific genes that cause migraine pain, which could pave the way for the development of drugs that could prevent or interrupt migraine.
In the UK, the neurotoxic protein Botox was licensed in 2010 by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency as a preventative treatment for adults with chronic migraine. However, its use in the NHS remains limited, as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has not yet provided formal guidance.” 

DIY cures include: 
Rest in a darkened, quiet room – so easy with young children!!
A cold compress/ ice pack to the head
Pain killers 
Lavender oil
Gentle face/ neck massage
Lots of extra fluid
Steering clear of trigger foods
Meditation and concentrating on warming the hands and feet and cooling the head
Masturbation – apparently!!

Do you suffer from migraine? What helps you? And what triggers you?