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Migraine

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Migraine is a condition characterised by a painful headache. Migraine symptoms can last hours or days and can be quite severe. The exact cause is not known, but both genetics and environment can play a role, with some people finding they experience symptoms when exposed to certain triggers.

Migraine treatment can help you take back control. You can buy clinically proven medication for migraines online from euroClinix.

Medically reviewed by
Dr. Ranjan Pruthi MBBS/MS/MRCS Ed/MRCG Written by our editorial team
Last reviewed 06-10-2021

Available Treatment(s)

Almotriptan 5(1 Reviews)
  • Can be taken any time during a migraine attack
  • Available as a 12.5mg dosage
  • Can be used up to twice daily
More Info
Prices start from £39.99
Sumatriptan 4.6(7 Reviews)
  • Migraine relief in 30 minutes
  • Available as a 50 mg and 100 mg dosage
  • Can reduce nausea, vomiting and light sensitivity
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Prices start from £22.99

What is a migraine?

A migraine is a condition that often causes very severe headaches, usually on one side of the head. Other symptoms include feeling nauseous or vomiting, as well as increased sensitivity to noises and bright lights. Migraine symptoms vary between people, and can sometimes be so severe that they interfere with normal daily activities.

What causes a migraine?

It is not known what causes migraines, but it is thought that they are the result of changes in brain and nerve activity. There may also be a genetic component, as they tend to run in families.

Some people find that they experience migraine after exposure to certain triggers, like:

  • hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, menopause and pregnancies
  • stress
  • changes in sleep
  • tiredness or fatigue
  • bright lights or strong smells
  • certain medications
  • certain types of food
  • alcohol or caffeinated beverages

Can high blood pressure cause migraines?

There is currently no conclusive research that confirms this. However, very high blood pressure can trigger something called malignant hypertension (hypertensive crisis), which the name suggests is a critical condition. Malignant hypertension can cause headaches due to pressure being built up in the cranium because of the blood pressure spiking up to critical levels. These types of headaches are typically associated with blurred vision, chest pain and nausea. This requires immediate medical attention (emergency services).

What are the symptoms of a migraine?

Migraines are known for the painful headaches (throbbing pain) they cause, but there are four different phases, although not everyone will experience each phase. These are called prodrome, aura, attack (usually including a headache), and postdrome.

Prodrome

The prodrome, or warning phase, begins a few days before a migraine begins, and it consists of subtle changes that indicate an upcoming migraine. These can include GI disturbances such as constipation, mood changes, neck stiffness, and tiredness.

Aura

Within an hour before an attack, some people get an ‘aura’, which includes sensory changes. Aura symptoms include:

  • visual disturbances, such as flashing lights or blurry vision
  • tingling or numbness on your arms or face
  • difficulty speaking

Attack/headache

Migraine headaches usually begin as a dull ache, growing into a throbbing or pulsing pain that gets worse with movement. They usually affect one side of the head, but can move to the other side, or affect the front of your head, or your entire head. You may feel sensitive to light, sound, and sometimes smell or touch. You may also feel nauseous, vomit, or faint.

Postdrome

After an attack, people often feel drained and fatigued, with residual head pain and difficulty concentrating. This can last for up to two days.

Everyone experiences migraine symptoms differently, and it is possible to experience only some of these stages. For instance, some people may experience a migraine attack without aura, and some may experience aura without a headache.

What are the different types of migraine?

Different people will experience different severity of the condition, as well as some may never experience any. In addition to how they range from mild to severe migraine attacks, there are different types of migraine and headache disorders that can affect different people as well.

You can read more about some different types of migraine that exist below:

Migraine without aura

Also called common migraine, it is not very surprisingly the most common type of migraine with 70-90% of migraine sufferers experiencing this type.

Migraine with aura

This type combines symptoms of the common migraine with visual disturbances such as seeing flashes of lights, black dots lines or hallucinations. Not being able to see at all, ringing in your ears and slurred speech are some other symptoms. This type is estimated to occur in 10-30% of migraine sufferers, and is referred to as classic migraine.

Migraine with brainstem aura

This is a type of migraine with aura, and occurs in approximately 1 in every 10 people that get migraine with aura (the typical visual kind). This type of migraine was previously known as basilar-type migraine, and it occurs with at least two neurological symptoms, such as tinnitus, slurring of speech, double vision and unsteadiness when walking, to name a few.

Migraine aura without headache

Also called silent migraine. As the name suggests, symptoms of this type does not include a headache, but it is common to experience other migraine symptoms such as aura (visual and sensory disturbances).

Chronic migraine

Chronic migraine sufferers are experiencing migraines at least 15 days with headaches during a month, with 8 or more of those being headaches with migraine symptoms, and have experienced this for more than 3 months. On the flip side, people that experience migraines less than 15 days a month experience episodic migraines.

Abdominal migraine

This might be more of a surprising one to many, as abdominal migraines do in fact not involve headaches, but rather stomach aches. They can be triggered by the same causes as ‘normal’ migraines and cause some of the same symptoms such as cramps, nausea and vomiting. They are more common in children, and more specifically girls.

Vestibular migraine

Around 40% of people with migraines have accompanying vestibular symptoms, such as balance disruptions or experiencing dizziness at some point. Other symptoms such as headaches, visual aura or sensitivity to lights and loud noises may or may not be present in this type of migraine attack.

Menstrual migraine and hormonal headaches

A change of hormone levels can cause different types of headaches. So-called menstruation migraines tend to occur anytime from 2 days before the period starts and till 3 days after it has begun. These migraines can also be caused by other factors that change these hormone levels, not just periods. The severity of these types of migraines and headaches depend on the degree of which these levels shift.

Combined contraception can cause these types of migraines and headaches. Women who suffer from migraine are typically prescribed a mini pill instead of a combined pill because of this. Hormone replacement therapy, menopause, perimenopause and pregnancies can also cause hormonal migraines and headaches.

How long do migraines last?

Most migraines end within four hours, but some can last as long as three days. As previously mentioned, migraines present differently in different people, and so therefore some might experience them more frequently or have migraine attacks that last longer than others.

How can I prevent a migraine headache?

The best preventive treatment for migraine is to identify your triggers. You can do this by keeping a log of the day, time, warning signs, symptoms, and how long it lasted. Once you have a log, you may be able to recognise a pattern, and avoid any consistent triggers, preventing an attack from occurring.

If your migraines are very frequent or severe, you may be prescribed medication. There are a number of different types of medication, but it will depend on your suitability and needs. For instance:

  • painkillers (such as ibuprofen) and estrogen (to prevent a hormonal dip) can be used to prevent menstrual and hormonal migraines
  • triptans, typically prescribed to treat attacks of a migraine headache that has started, they can also be used to prevent them
  • antidepressants such as amitriptyline and beta-blockers such as propranolol, due to maintaining a healthy serotonin level (amongst other effects), are commonly used to prevent migraines
  • anti-epileptic drugs to help control epilepsy seizures (also called anti-seizure medicines) can also be taken to prevent migraine if prescribed by a doctor

How can I treat a migraine?

There is currently no permanent cure for migraines, but symptoms can be treated with medication and lifestyle modifications.

Natural remedies and lifestyle modifications

Many people find resting or sleeping in a dark room during a migraine attack can help. You can also try putting a cool compress on your head, and should ensure you drink plenty of fluids.

Medicine

When taken at the first signs of an attack, over-the-counter pain relief medications, like ibuprofen or paracetamol, can help reduce symptoms. However, if you find that you are needing to use these medications quite frequently, or if they become less effective, your GP may prescribe another type of medication, such as a triptan.

Triptans reverse the changes in the brain, such as widening of the blood vessels, thought to cause migraines. They are available as tablets, nasal sprays, and injections. Commonly prescribed triptans include Sumatriptan and Almotriptan - you can get these prescribed from a doctor here at euroClinix.

Anti-sickness medications may also help reduce migraine symptoms, even if you do not feel sick during an attack.

Alternative treatments

Along with changes you can make to your environment when suffering from a migraine attack, there are also some more unusual alternative treatment methods for migraines such as botox and piercings.

Can I order treatment for migraines online?

Yes. Triptans such as Sumatriptan and Almotriptan are available to buy online from euroClinix. These medicines are prescription-only, which means you will need a valid prescription. But worry not, euroClinix is a complete service that offers you a doctor consultation, a prescription and free delivery with your order.*

* This is of course only if the doctor deems the treatment suitable and safe for you to take. Should the doctor not feel comfortable prescribing it to you, a prescription will not be issued, and you won’t get charged either.

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