Migraine is the most common neurological condition in the world. It affects approximately 2% of the world’s population. It is more prevalent than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined. 12-15% of Irish people suffer from migraine – this means that roughly half a million people suffer from migraine in Ireland.
The World Health Organization classifies severe migraine attacks among the most disabling illnesses. The most common symptoms of a migraine attack include throbbing headache, sensitivity to light and noise, nausea (feeling sick), vomiting (being sick) and lethargy (lack of energy). It is a very individual condition. For example people can suffer from attacks daily or yearly.
Migraine/chronic headache were found to be the second most frequently identified cause of short-term absence (47%). In the UK Absenteeism from migraine alone costs £2.25 billion per year. It is estimated that migraine costs Irish businesses €252 million every year due to sick leave.
Migraine is managed with numerous medications with varying degrees of success
Simple lifestyle interventions to manage migraine
Skipping meals: Fasting or skipping breakfast is a known migraine trigger. Glucose is the main source of fuel for your brain. Not eating for long periods can result in hypoglycemia or low blood glucose. The solution is to eat regularly
Dehydration: Our body is made up of 60% water. Our brains are reported to consist of 70-80% water. When we become dehydrated it can affect how the brain functions and trigger pain receptors. This can result in migraine. The solution is to make sure you drink adequate water.
Adequate sleep: Lack of sleep is reported to affect brain function and be a trigger factor. The solution is to get adequate sleep.
Dietary factors: There are a number of dietary compounds that can trigger migraine such as excessive caffeine consumption, chocolate and alcohol. For example chocolate, beer and wine contain histamine and other compounds that can cause blood vessels to dilate or expand. Dilation of blood in the brain is one reported trigger of migraine. The solution is to use a food trigger diary and remove common food triggers