What is Migraine?
Migraine is a complex neurological condition which is classified by the World Health Organisation as the 7th most disabling disease worldwide, the 4th for women. Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Vos et al. The Lancet, Volume 386, Issue 9995, Pages 743 – 800, 22 August 2015
Migraine is the most common neurological condition in the world, affecting about 12 – 15% of people. It is three times more common in women than it is in men and is usually inherited. It is a very individual condition. Some people experience only one or two attacks per year while others suffer on a weekly basis. An attack can last from 4 to 72 hours.
What makes a migraine different from a normal headache?
Migraine generally features a one-sided throbbing headache which is episodic and lasts hours or even days with total freedom between attacks. The headache is normally worsened by movement or routine physical activity. Migraine has been likened to a power cut, as the whole body seems to shut down until the attack is over. The headache is of course just one of the symptoms, albeit the most well-known.
An attack of migraine can be very frightening. The onset of classical Migraine (Migraine with Aura) may be signalled by visual disturbances in what is called the “aura” stage. This affects about 20% of migraineurs.
Common Migraine (or Migraine without aura) and classical migraine may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, confusion and, in rare cases, temporary paralysis and loss of speech. Sensitivity to light, noise and strong smells is also frequently reported.
Who suffers migraine?
Data suggests that between 12-15% of Irish people suffer from migraine – this means that roughly half a million people suffer from migraine in Ireland. It is estimated that migraine costs Irish businesses €252 million every year as a result of lost productivity with the average migraineur missing between 1.5 and 4.5 days from work annually. Despite these staggering figures migraine remains a misunderstood and under managed condition.
All age groups suffer. Children as young as twelve months have been diagnosed. Three times more women than men suffer mainly due to hormonal changes. People who are subject to migraine come in a large variety of shapes, ages, temperaments and personalities. Migraine is hereditary in approximately 60% of cases.