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What exactly is a migraine, what causes the condition and how is it treated?

A migraine can be defined as a severe recurring headache, usually affecting just one side of the head.

Migraines are different from other headaches because they also include symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or a sensitivity to light

Just over one in ten people suffer from migraines with women accounting for over three quarters of all cases.

The main symptoms of a migraine are a persistent throbbing or pounding pain, and a sensitivity to light, sound and movement.

The pain is usually limited to one side of the head, although there may be pressure on both.

Migraine attacks can last for up to 72 hours and, as previously mentioned, can be accompanied by nausea, sickness, diarrhea, and a feeling of exhaustion.

Approximately one quarter of migraine sufferers will have what is called Migraine with Aura (classic migraine).

The symptoms are the same as above but also include an aura (warning sign) before the headache begins.

This can be a temporary loss of vision, flashes of light, intense pins and needles or the sudden development of a speech problem.

The exact causes of migraines are not yet knownalthough most experts believe that certain factors can trigger attacks such as too much or too little sleep, strong light, and weather changes.

The appropriate treatment for migraine will depend greatly on the patient's history but the goal is always to prevent, or at least reduce, the number of migraines he or she will experience.

In most cases, painkillers such as Paracetamol or anti-inflammatory pain killers such as Ibuprofen will be prescribed.

However, if this does not prove successful, triptan medication may be used.

This relatively new type of treatment works by interfering with a chemical in the brain called 5-HT which experts believe is directly linked to the root cause of migraine attacks.

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