What are migraines?

Migraines are particularly severe headaches, usually felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head. It’s a relatively common health condition, affecting around one in five women and around one in 15 men. They usually begin in early adulthood.


What are the symptoms of migraines?

There are several different types of migraines, including:

  • Migraine with aura, where there are specific warning signs just before the migraine begins
  • Migraine without aura, which is the most common type, where the migraine happens without the specific warning signs
  • Migraine aura without headache, also known as silent migraine, where an aura or other migraine symptoms are experienced, but a headache never develops

Each of these different types has its own symptoms, the most common of which is an intense headache on one side of the head. Other symptoms include:

  • Feeling sick
  • Nausea
  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound
  • Sweating
  • Poor concentration,
  • Feeling very hot or very cold
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea

As noted above, there are also some warning signs that some people (roughly one in three) experience before getting a migraine. These include:

  • Visual problems, such as seeing flashing lights, zig-zag patterns, or blind spots in your vision
  • Numbness or a tingling sensation like pins and needles, usually starting in one hand and moves up your arm before affecting your face, lips, and tongue
  • Feeling dizzy or off-balance
  • Having difficulty speaking
  • Loss of consciousness

Aura symptoms typically develop over the course of about five minutes and last for up to an hour. Some people may experience aura followed by only a mild headache or no headache at all.

In general, the level of pain from the headache can vary from person to person. In some cases, the pain can occur on both sides of your head and may affect your face or neck. The symptoms of a migraine usually last between four hours and three days, although you may feel very tired for up to a week afterwards.

Some people have migraines frequently, up to several times a week. Other people only have a migraine occasionally. It’s even possible for years to pass between migraine attacks.


What causes migraines?

The exact cause of migraines is unknown, although experts believe they may be linked to temporary changes in the chemicals, nerves, and blood vessels in the brain.

Roughly half of all people who experience migraines also have a close relative with the condition, suggesting that it may be hereditary to some extent.

Some people also find that their migraines are associated with certain triggers, which can include:

  • Starting their period
  • Stress
  • Tiredness
  • Certain foods or drinks

Learning what these triggers are and avoiding them can reduce the likelihood of experiencing the more severe symptoms of migraines.


What treatment options are available for migraines?

There is no known cure for migraines, so the treatment largely focuses on reducing the symptoms and improving the quality of life for the patient. These include:

  • Painkillers, including over-the-counter medicines like paracetamol and ibuprofen
  • Triptans, or medicines that can help reverse the changes in the brain that may cause migraines
  • Antiemetics, or medicines that are often used to help relieve nausea
  • Sleeping or lying down in a darkened room during an attack
  • Avoiding triggers, such as stress, lack of sleep, or certain foods

Migraine attacks can sometimes get worse over time, but they tend to gradually improve over many years for most people.


How can medical cannabis help with migraines?

In a study from 2019, ‘Effects of Medical Marijuana on Migraine Headache Frequency in an Adult Population’, the researchers, Danielle N Rhyne, Sarah L Anderson, Margaret Gedde, and Laura M Borgelt, found that “the frequency of migraine headache was decreased with medical marijuana use”. On top of that, 11% of patients tested found that medical cannabis was able to stop migraine attacks when already underway.

With the positive effects of medical cannabis on patients with migraines, it’s likely that this form of treatment could dramatically improve quality of life from those who experience chronic pain as a result of migraines. The Medical Cannabis Clinics’ team is dedicated to raising awareness about how medical cannabis can help with a range of pain-related conditions, including migraines. 

At The Medical Cannabis Clinics, we offer personalised treatment plans and private care for patients through online video link consultations with our expert specialist doctors, who will guide you through the treatment options available from the clinic. Your prescription can be tailored to suit your individual circumstances and needs, with ongoing support and adjustments made as necessary.

Appointments start from just £70. Book a private consultation today and one of our expert specialist doctors will be able to offer you targeted advice and treatment plans, unique to your needs and symptoms.

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