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What Can You Do If You Have A Migraine

When To Get Medical Advice

Do you have a Migraine or a Neck Headache- we discussed how upper cervical and neck can cause both

You should see a GP if you have frequent or severe migraine symptoms.

Simple painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, can be effective for migraine.

Try not to use the maximum dosage of painkillers on a regular or frequent basis as this could make it harder to treat headaches over time.

You should also make an appointment to see a GP if you have frequent migraines , even if they can be controlled with medicines, as you may benefit from preventative treatment.

You should call 999 for an ambulance immediately if you or someone you’re with experiences:

  • paralysis or weakness in 1 or both arms or 1 side of the face
  • slurred or garbled speech
  • a sudden agonising headache resulting in a severe pain unlike anything experienced before
  • headache along with a high temperature , stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, double vision and a rash

These symptoms may be a sign of a more serious condition, such as a stroke or meningitis, and should be assessed by a doctor as soon as possible.

When Should You Head Home

Migraines dont always resolve quickly, and sometimes it can be important to know when to call it quits on a work day if an episode isnt getting any better. Some people can tell when a migraine is here to stay based on the level of pain, or other factors, like nausea or light sensitivity. In those cases its important to go home get a quick nap and rest to get ready for the next day, instead of sticking around and making things worse. That is, of course, assuming youll be able to get home safely in a car or on public transportation. Otherwise, you might have to see about calling in a favor to get a ride from a friend or family member. If you suffer from regular episodes, try to have a talk with your employer ahead of time so they know you might have to leave work early unexpectedly sometimes.

And when you do get back to work, Diamond stresses that its equally important not to overload yourself right away. When a patient misses a day because of a migraine or theyre behind because of a migraine, they get more anxious and concerned about finishing what they need to finish, and that doesnt help the whole process, she says. Instead, try to ease back into your work and keep from getting too anxious, as excessive stress could trigger another episode.

Light Noise Or Smells Trigger Or Worsen Pain

In the throes of a migraine attack, the migraine sufferer tends to seek refuge in a dark, quiet place. Bright lights and loud noises can trigger a migraine or intensify the pain. The same is true of certain odors.

“Once you’ve already got a migraine, smells can seem more intense and make it worse,” Dr. Calhoun says. “But a smell can also trigger a migraine in someone who didn’t have one before walked past the perfume counter.”

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Diagnosis And Patient Assessment

Migraine has well-established diagnostic criteria4 . Good evidence supports the use of the POUND mnemonic for migraine diagnosis6 . Assessment aims to confirm diagnostic criteria, evaluate for alternative explanations, identify comorbidities that could complicate management ,8 and document the baseline pattern and severity of episodes. A variety of conditions can present as headache, most of which can be identified by the history and physical examination .6 The only indications for ancillary testing are to identify causes of secondary headaches or comorbid conditions.9,10 Table 4 lists red flag symptoms that indicate the need for neuroimaging and/or urgent referral.9,10

International Headache Society Diagnostic Criteria for Migraine Headache With and Without Aura

Migraine without aura

*Recurrent disorder manifesting in headaches with reversible focal neurologic symptoms that usually develop gradually over 5 to 20 minutes before onset of the headache and last for less than 60 minutes. Headache with the features of migraine without aura usually follows the aura symptoms. Less commonly, headache lacks migrainous features or is completely absent .

Adapted with permission from Gilmore B, Michael M. Treatment of acute migraine headache . Am Fam Physician. 2011 83:272.

International Headache Society Diagnostic Criteria for Migraine Headache With and Without Aura

Migraine without aura

POUND Mnemonic for Diagnosis of Migraine

Clinical features:

Clinical features:

When Should You Call A Doctor For Migraines

Migraine Headaches In Children
  • A change in frequency, severity, or features of the migraine commonly experienced
  • A new, progressive headache that lasts for days
  • Constant migraine symptoms that last more than 72 hours
  • A headache brought on by coughing, sneezing, bearing down, straining while on the toilet, or other physical straining
  • Significant unintentional loss of body weight
  • Weakness or paralysis that lasts after the headache

Go to a hospital emergency department if you have any of these symptoms and signs:

  • Having “the worst headache ever,” especially if the headache had a sudden onset

    Migraine Causes

    The exact cause of migraine headaches is not clearly understood, though experts believe they may be caused by a combination of the expansion of blood vessels and the release of certain chemicals, which causes inflammation and pain.

    • The chemicalsdopamine and serotonin are among those involved in migraines. These chemicals are found normally in the brain and can cause blood vessels to act abnormally if they are present in abnormal amounts or if the blood vessels are unusually sensitive to them.
    • Current research suggests that overactive nerve cells triggering the trigeminal nerve can lead to an imbalance in certain neurotransmitters in the brain, causing a migraine headache. These neurotransmitters include serotonin and calcitonin gene-related peptide .

    Migraine Triggers


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    How Can I Tell If I Have A Migraine Or Just A Bad Tension

    Compared with migraine, tension-type headache is generally less severe and rarely disabling. Compare your symptoms with those in this chart to see what type of headache you might be having.

    Migraine vs. bad tension-type headache

    Aura before onset of headachex

    Note: Rebound headache may have features of tension and/or migraine headache. Adapted from a table produced by the American Council for Headache Education.

    Although fatigue and stress can bring on both tension and migraine headaches, migraines can be triggered by certain foods, changes in the body’s hormone levels, and even changes in the weather.

    There also are differences in how types of headaches respond to treatment with medicines. Although some over-the-counter drugs used to treat tension-type headaches sometimes help migraine headaches, the drugs used to treat migraine attacks do not work for tension-type headaches for most people.

    You can’t tell the difference between a migraine and a tension-type headache by how often they occur. Both can occur at irregular intervals. Also, in rare cases, both can occur daily or almost daily.

    Are Migraine Headaches More Common In Women Than Men

    Yes. About three out of four people who have migraines are women. Migraines are most common in women between the ages of 20 and 45. At this time of life women often have more job, family, and social duties. Women tend to report more painful and longer lasting headaches and more symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting. All these factors make it hard for a woman to fulfill her roles at work and at home when migraine strikes.

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    Are Migraines A Disability Under The Ada

    The American Disabilities Act prevents employers from discriminating against people with disabilities. The act defines a disability as:

    • A mental or physical illness that keeps a person from participating in major life activities

    • A record or history of the illness

    • Other people being aware of the illness

    By law, if your migraines make it difficult for you to work, your employer must provide reasonable accommodations. That means getting rid of possible triggers like noise, fragrances, high-stress situations, and fluorescent lights. It may also mean allowing you to work from home or investing in a comfortable chair and desk for your workspace. In the meantime, heres some advice from a doctor on how to cope with migraines at work.

    What’s The Difference Between A Headache And A Migraine

    Headache Treatments : How to Tell if You Have a Sinus Headache

    A tension-type headache, the most common type of headache, causes pain on both sides of the head. It’s a tight pressure rather than a throbbing, and you might also have soreness in your temples, neck and shoulder muscles. Headache pain isn’t usually considered ‘severe’.

    Migraine, on the other hand, has many symptoms including headache. This can feel like a throbbing pain that might be worse on one side of your head. You can also feel pain around your eyes, temples, face, jaw or neck. The pain may increase with physical activity, which is why it helps to lie down.

    But the key difference between a headache and migraine? Migraines can be distressing and debilitating and can affect your whole body. People can feel vaguely unwell for a day or two before a migraine headache comes on . Once it has started, a migraine headache can last for between 4 hours and several days.

    “Migraine is a chronic disorder of the brain with recurrent severe attacks… other common features are nausea or even vomiting,” explains Assistant Professor of Neurology Yulia Orlova on The Conversation. “Many people have sensitivity to light, odours or sounds and are unable to carry on daily activity.”

    Migraine is ranked the sixth most disabling disease in the world. Global Burden of Disease

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    How Can Migraines Be Prevented

    Migraine triggers should be identified and avoided. Making individual lifestyle changes is important.

    • Changes may include avoiding certain types of foods and certain emotional situations.
    • For example, if missing meals triggers headaches, the person should make every effort to eat on a regular basis.
  • In some instances, the use of biofeedback may help reduce the severity and frequency of attacks.
  • How Can You Tell If It’s A Migraine Vs Headache

    The diagnosis of migraine headache rests solely on what a patient describes to a doctor or other medical professional. A doctor’s physical examination of the patient typically reveals nothing out of the ordinary, but a neurological examination will often be performed to rule out other causes of headache.

    Additional tests may be ordered because of other types of headaches such as tension or cluster headache, stroke, tumor, inflammation of a blood vessel, and infection of the brain’s coverings or of the sinuses. Other headache tests include:

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    From Student In Traditional School To Student In Distance Learning Program/flex School

    Logan spent his first year away at college doing his job: learning. With Chronic Migraine, he couldn’t meet the attendance minimums in his classes and had to take a medical withdrawal from school.

    He re-enrolled in a Distance Learning Program offered by another university, offering him the flexibility to submit papers, take tests, and learn online. He is making good progress toward his degree. Check out Olivia’s personal story of how she finally graduated from college.

    From Line Producer To Social Media Maven

    Try These 9 Simple Headache Hacks for Fast Relief

    Isabelle was a news producer working the overnight shift for a global news network, and a young parent with migraine. Her sleep was a mess, her diet was a mess, and she was socially disconnected.

    Tempted to apply for disability, Isabelle decided to start her own video blog instead. Next, she started helping friends with their video blogs , then quit her job to start a Social PR/Video company. She earns a little less but is saving money on clothes, commuting, eating out, and health expenses.

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    Im Worried About The Astrazeneca Vaccine And Risk Of Blood Clots

    Understandably, a lot of people are worried following the recent information around the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots. Currently there is no specific data into migraine and the Covid-19 vaccines . People should follow the latest guidance. If you are worried about the vaccine you should speak to your GP about your individual situation and to discuss any concerns you have.

    Generally, even with the latest data and updates the consensus is the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. The EMA concluded that the vaccine isnt associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots in people who have it. However, there may be an association with very rare types of blood clots associated with low levels of blood platelets . These are extremely rare and the MHRA has concluded the evidence of a link with the AstraZeneca vaccine is stronger than it was, but there is still more work and data needed.

    We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates.

    A Few More Potential Trigger Foods

    Even though weâd hate to take the fun out of even more of your favorite foods, we should let you know about these other potential trigger foods. According to the Cleveland Clinic, these foods are commonly reported as migraine triggers, but thereâs no scientific evidence that they really cause them, so donât clean out your fridge just yet. Instead, turn to a migraine tracker to see if any of these might be causing you pain.

    • Avocados
    • Chicken livers and other organ meats
    • Dairy products like buttermilk, sour cream, and yogurt
    • Dried fruits like dates, figs, and raisins
    • Garlic
    • Most beans including lima, fava, navy, pinto, garbanzo, lentils, and snow peas
    • Onions
    • Pickled foods like olives, sauerkraut, and, of course, pickles
    • Potato chips
    • Some fresh fruits like ripe bananas, papaya, red plums, raspberries, kiwi, and pineapple
    • Smoked or dried fish
    • Tomato-based products

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    Make Time To Eat Even If Its Just A Snack

    If youre traveling during the holidays, you may need to take food with you. After all, many flights dont offer meals these days, and if youre traveling by car, you may be reluctant to stop at restaurants along the way due to the pandemic, says Strauss.

    Make sure you are still scheduling time to eat, she says. Try setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to pull over or pull out a snack.

    Even if you dont travel, mealtimes during the holidays can be irregular, she adds. Plan to have three moments during the day when you stop and eat. It doesnt have to be a big sit-down meal. It can be a snack, says Strauss.

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    How Should You Talk To Your Boss Or Co

    Migraine : What you need to know

    Conversations with bosses or co-workers can be difficult, especially if they are under the false impression that youre trying to get special treatment.

    Diamond says it may make sense to tell your boss or HR representative about your triggers, while making sure they realize youre still committed to being a team player and pulling your weight. That might also involve pushing back sometimes, and learning to advocate for yourself for the sake of your health.

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    Weakness On One Side Of The Body

    When an arm goes limp, it can be a sign of a migraine.

    Some people experience muscle weakness on one side of the body before a migraine attack. This can also be a sign of a stroke, however, so consult a doctor to rule out any other causes.

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    When You Get A Migraine

    Try to treat your symptoms right away. This may help make the headache less severe. When migraine symptoms begin:

    • Drink water to avoid dehydration, especially if you have vomited
    • Rest in a quiet, dark room
    • Place a cool cloth on your head
    • Avoid smoking or drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks
    • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages
    • Try to sleep

    Over-the-counter pain medicines, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin, are often helpful when your migraine is mild.

    Your health care provider may have prescribed medicines to stop a migraine. These drugs come in different forms. They may come as a nasal spray, rectal suppository, or injection instead of pills. Other medicines can treat nausea and vomiting.

    Follow your provider’s instructions about how to take all of your medicines. Rebound headaches are headaches that keep coming back. They can occur from overuse of pain medicine. If you take pain medicine more than 3 days a week on a regular basis, you can develop rebound headaches.

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    How Can I Tell If I Have A Migraine Or A Sinus Headache

    Many people confuse a sinus headache with a migraine because pain and pressure in the sinuses, nasal congestion, and watery eyes often occur with migraine. To find out if your headache is sinus or migraine, ask yourself these questions:

    In addition to my sinus symptoms, do I have:

  • Moderate-to-severe headache
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to light
  • If you answer yes to two or three of these questions, then most likely you have migraine with sinus symptoms. A true sinus headache is rare and usually occurs due to sinus infection. In a sinus infection, you would also likely have a fever and thick nasal secretions that are yellow, green, or blood-tinged. A sinus headache should go away with treatment of the sinus infection.

    Why Are Women With Migraine Who Take The Pill Or Use The Vaginal Ring Or The Patch A Special Case


    The combined oral contraceptive pill , the contraceptive vaginal ring and the contraceptive patch contain the chemical oestrogen. They are all called ‘combined hormonal contraceptives’. They are generally used for 21 consecutive days, followed by a 7-day break .

    Taking oestrogen causes you to have a slightly increased risk of having a stroke . If you have migraine without aura, you have a slightly increased risk of having a stroke compared with the normal risk. The increased risk of having a stroke is slightly higher in people who have migraine with aura.

    If you take oestrogen and you have migraine the risks increase a little more, because now two risks are present.

    • The combination of taking combined hormonal contraception plus having migraine without aura increases the risk of stroke slightly more than either alone.
    • The combination of taking combined hormonal contraception plus having migraine with aura increases the stroke risk by a little more than this, multiplying it by 2 to 4.

    This is still a very low risk, but it is an increased risk of something very serious. Doctors therefore advise against using combined hormonal contraception if you experience migraine with aura, as this is puts you at a small but unnecessarily increased risk of something very serious.

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