Almost everyone will have a headache at some point in their lives and many have them regularly. Migraine on its own affects around 10% of the population in the UK – that means around 6 million people. Despite this, migraine often goes undiagnosed and is seen as ‘just a bad headache’.
What is migraine?
The word migraine can mean the attack, or can mean the underlying disease that causes the attacks. Migraine pain can be on one side of the head or on both sides, can swap sides, or can be asymmetrical.
Migraine is more than just a headache and migraine pain normally comes with nausea (queasiness and feeling sick) or vomiting (being sick), oversensitivity to light, noise, movement, or smell.
If you have attacks of a bad headache lasting hours or days, with queasiness or a preference for rest (even if you can carry on, with an effort) you almost certainly have migraine.
Migraine is a disorder of the brain. If the brain is a computer, migraine is a software, not a hardware problem.
Migraine can be acute or episodic (infrequent attacks) or chronic (symptoms more often than not, for three months or longer).
Who gets migraine?
Anyone can get migraine. It affects 1 in 5 women and 1 in 15 men. It usually begins in early life, though diagnosis may be delayed or overlooked until it becomes a problem, often in working or middle age. Migraine usually gets less troublesome in older people, though it can begin at any age.
What are the different types of migraine?
Migraine can be acute (90%) or chronic (10%); with aura (10-30%) or without aura (70-90%). Some people have migraine aura without headache.
People who have attacks of migraine, have more headaches than people without migraine, but not all these headaches are typical migraine attacks. Many headache experts think “tension headache” is simply a featureless form of migraine. “Icepick pain”, is an instantaneous stabbing pain in any part of the head. Alcohol hangover headache, travel sickness, and vertigo are more often suffered by people with migraine.
Here we have gathered some information about headaches and migraine, including a simple self-test to see if you have migraine.
Click here to find more information covering most aspects of migraine. Find out about migraine causes, migraine symptoms, migraine treatments, and lots more.
Take control of your migraines by tracking your attacks on a diary, recording relevant information about them and the treatments you are taking.
It is important to know that your migraine is unique! What works for one person may not for another so book an appointment to see one of our specialists for a personalised approach to treatment.