As many as 1 in 7 people are affected by migraines which can be devastating to their everyday life; in this blog post, we’re discussing what some of the possible causes of migraines are, and ways to reduce and treat the symptoms.

Debunking the myth – is it just a ‘bad headache’?

Migraine’s are one of the most common neurological conditions, and to many people, the common misconception is that it is a ‘bad headache’ – but there are other symptoms that go with it. The pain is usually throbbing, pulsating and bursting in character, affecting one side or the whole of the head, and it can last for hours – even days. When experiencing a migraine attack, a person can have vision problems such as blurring and seeing ‘spots’, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, noise and smells; as well as tingling or numbness in the limbs.

Bad for business

Aside from being painful and debilitating for the person experiencing a migraine, it can also be costly to businesses. Statistics from Migraine Action show that migraines cost UK businesses £2.25 billion each year due to staff absences caused by migraine attacks.

Possible causes

For most people, migraines are caused by a combination of factors or ‘triggers’. Things such as stress, sleep deprivation and items in our diet like cheese, chocolate and red wine are all said to be common causes of a migraine, and because of this, as many as 60% of people who get migraines regularly don’t consult their GP because they think that nothing can be done to help them.  A migraine can also be triggered by problems with the teeth and jaw – clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth, especially whilst asleep, can trigger attacks.

Prevention is cheaper than the cure

Yes, we’ve all heard this saying before, but in the case of treating a migraine, prevention really does help! Preventative treatments are aimed at reducing the frequency and/or severity of headaches, and people with migraines often need to make lifestyle changes or take medication to help control their symptoms. By lifestyle changes, this can mean getting more sleep, drinking lots of water, reducing caffeine and alcohol intake, eating healthily, relaxing and reducing stress as much as possible. There are also preventative medications you can take such as beta blockers, which reduce muscle tension, blood pressure and stress.

Holistic and/or complementary remedies can also be extremely effective for migraine prevention:

Acupuncture is a practice that has been endorsed by the British Medical Association as an effective treatment for headaches and migraines. Treatment consists of small fine sterile needles being inserted into the skin at certain points to relieve pain.

Homeopathy is a complementary therapy which is often used alongside conventional medicine. It aims to treat illnesses with preparations called ‘remedies’ that are made from dilutions of natural substances such as plants, minerals, metals and salts – usually given in tablet form.

Physiotherapy uses physical approaches to promote, maintain and restore physical, psychological and social wellbeing, and it is increasingly being recognised as a treatment for migraines. The NHS suggests that massage can reduce the frequency of migraines by relaxing tight muscles that can trigger headaches, and also by reducing sensations of pain and stress.

There are a wide range of treatments available, from traditional to holistic or complementary, which can be very effective. But because migraines are a complex condition, a treatment that is effective for one person may not necessarily work as well for another. It can take time to find the right treatment for you. If you are suffering from regular migraines, you should consult a doctor.

A cash plan from Sovereign Health Care can help you to pay for treatment for migraines. From just £2.52 per week, it allows you to claim cash back towards a range of everyday health care costs including acupuncture, physiotherapy, homeopathy and much more. To find out more click here.

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