What is a migraine?

People first start experiencing migraines in early adulthood.

A migraine is usually felt as an intense throbbing pain on one side of the head, but can affect both sides.

While some may suffer from frequent migraines, as often as several times a week, others might only have episodes now and then. It’s possible to go a number of years between migraines.

Symptoms of migraine headaches

It’s common for migraines to develop in stages, but some people experience them in different ways.

  • Stage One: Pre-headache stage with changes to mood, energy levels, behaviour and appetite. It can last for hours or days before an episode.
  • Stage Two: Visual problems, flashes of light, blind spots, or zig-zag patterns. It can last for 5 minutes to an hour.
  • Stage Three: Headaches with throbbing pain, often to one side of the head, feeling sick, vomiting, or experiencing extreme sensitivity to bright light and sound. It can last 4-72 hours.
  • Stage Four: Resolution. The headache and other symptoms fade away, but feelings of tiredness can last for a number of days afterwards.How to treat migrainesWhile there’s no cure for migraines, there are lots of treatments available to help reduce the symptoms. Many people find it helpful to lie in a darkened room and sleep it off. You can take painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen to help ease symptoms.

If you are not suffering from these symptoms, you may not be experiencing this specific type of headache. Read our overview of other types of headaches.

Causes of migraines

The exact reason why migraines occur is not known. It’s believed that genes play a role – around half of all sufferers have a close relative who experience them too.

Some of the triggers are:

  • hormonal changes: women’s menstrual cycles for example
  • emotional: when stress or anxiety is the cause
  • physical: the result of tiredness or poor-quality sleep
  • dietary: for example certain foods and drinks.

How to treat migraines

While there’s no cure for migraines, there are lots of treatments available to help reduce the symptoms. Many people find it helpful to lie in a darkened room and sleep it off.

You can take painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen to help ease symptoms.

Why Ibuprofen can help

Ibuprofen relieves pain, fever and has anti-inflammatory properties. It works for various types of pain including period pain, strains and sprains, headaches and migraines.

Why Nurofen Migraine Pain can help

Migraine Pain can help Migraine sufferers know that it is important to act at the first sign of discomfort to help speed up recovery.

That’s why we recommend Nurofen Migraine Pain Relief 342mg Caplets. It contains Ibuprofen Lysine, which is quickly absorbed in the body and provides relief from headaches and migraine pain. You can take it with water.

When to seek medical help:

Contact your GP if you are experiencing increasingly frequent (more than five days a month) or severe migraines.

You should call 999 for an ambulance if you get a sudden headache that brings about blinding pain, or feeling exceptionally feverish. Other symptoms that require immediate care include weakness on one side of your face, affected arm or both arms, slurry speech, a stiff neck, double vision, seizures, or a rash.

Help prevent the onset of migraines

It’s a good idea to keep a diary so you can recognise when you are vulnerable and make appropriate changes. For example, if you notice that stress or certain types of food are triggering your migraines. Small lifestyle changes can also minimise the chances of dealing with migraines.

Things like frequent exercise, regular mealtimes, and lots of water throughout the day are easy to incorporate into your daily life. Of course, avoiding alcoholic drinks and coffee help too, as these beverages often lead to dehydration.

If you have made changes and have been avoiding any possible triggers, but your migraines are still severe, your GP can prescribe medicines to help prevent future episodes.

Other types of headaches

Sinus-related headaches

Sinus headaches can occur as a result of inflamed sinuses and the build-up of mucus. This results in a feeling of pressure and pain in cheekbones, forehead and around the eyes.

Tension headaches

A tension headache feels like an aching type of pain. It can feel as if there is pressure on your head like it’s being squeezed.

If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional.

All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe.

In all health matters for further information or medical advice, please speak to your GP or a Pharmacist.