Migraines impact an estimated 1 in 7 people across the UK and in total about 610,000 suffer from them chronically. Women are more than twice as likely to be affected as men with 18% of all women affected and 8% of men. Symptoms of migraines include visual disturbances to the eyes, intense and throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to noise, sensitivity to smells and tingling, pins and needles, weakness and/or numbness in limbs.
Migraines are undiagnosed and untreated in at least 50% of patients and less than 50% of migraine sufferers seek medical help. The headaches can be so serve that the World Health Organisation classifies chronic migraines as more disabling than blindness, paraplegia, angina or rheumatoid arthritis but migraines remain the least publically funded of all neurological illnesses when adjusted for economic impact. Severe headaches also leave sufferers at three time’s greater risk of depression than non-sufferers.
The cost of Migraines in the UK alone is staggering. It is estimated that the medication used to treat migraines could cost £150 million each year and that the 25 million working days lost could cost the economy £2.25 billion. Even when suffers are able to make it to work or school efficiency is reduced by more than 50%. Worldwide approximately 400,000 per million work or school days are lots to migraines and it is estimated that headaches cost the EU about £140 billion per year.
Some simple steps you can use to keep the pain at bay are:
- Avoid stress
- Sleep well in a dark and quiet room at regular hours
- Do not strain your eyes
- Use physical therapy to help relieve and prevent the pain
- Avoid foods that trigger migraines – aged cheeses and other tyramine containing foods, alcohol, food additives and cold foods
- Eat at regular hours and do not skip meals
- Keep caffeinated beverages to a minimum
- Keep hydrated
You may be able to find some relief in herbs and supplements. Tanacetum parthenium or Feverfew has been shown to be beneficial to migraine sufferers. Ginger root can help with migraine associated nausea as well as the headaches themselves. Cayenne (Capsicum Annuum) can be an effective painkiller and can ease migraine associated stress if rubbed into your neck and temples in the form of a cream. You can also try herbal supplements in the form of magnesium, vitamin B6 and 5 HTP to help relieve the symptoms of migraines.