You'll never understand the struggle of a migraine until you experience one first-hand...
No, it isn't just a bad headache.
Did you know that migraines are the 3rd most common disease in the world? Most people don't because understanding and awareness are quite low. That's where Migraine Awareness Week comes in, to raise the profile but also provide support.
If you suffer from migraines, you aren't alone - 9 million people do too. That's more than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma sufferers combined!
When you're experiencing a migraine, it's a lot more than 'just a headache' that will go away once you 'drink some water'. It's a throbbing head pain, sensitivity to light/smells/sounds, blurred vision, sickness, and nausea. Here are a few useful things to do during an attack:
- Get to a cool, dark environment to help ease your symptoms
- Take some medication such as paracetamol or aspirin (if you aren't experiencing sickness symptoms) but always read the label before taking
- Eat something light like a sandwich or banana and always keep a bottle of cool water with you
- Keep a diary to record what is triggering your attacks to hopefully prevent them
Everyone has different migraine causes and if you know you're prone to migraines, you need to be careful with what you eat and drink but also your lifestyle choices. Some of the most common triggers are...
- Caffeine: You might find yourself struggling through lectures and exams but don't reach for the tea, coffee or fizzy drinks - this will only make you worse.
- Screens: Constantly staring at these will encourage a migraine. That means taking time away from your laptop, TV, tablet and smartphone.
- Additives: Look at the packaging! If you're already prone to migraines, some chemicals and additives will make them worse so you need to avoid these at all costs.
- Alcohol and cheese: Research has found that red wine, camembert and brie can all trigger migraines so yes, you might have to cut back on the good stuff!
- Stress: The most obvious one, but university can be stressful but remember to remain positive, calm and relaxed whenever you can to prevent a migraine whilst revising, in a lecture or exam.