I'm Dawn Harper. I'm a GP witha particular interest in women's health. Migraine is an incredibly common problem that affects around 6 million peoplein the UK. Twothirds of those are women. 'I do see a lot of people who describetheir headaches as migraine.' I think we have to be careful that, as miserable as headaches are,they are not all migraines. Migraines classically areonesided headaches,
often associated with nausea,quite often actually make you sick. Usually people feel they have tojust lie down in a darkened room. They don't like the light. They really are severe headacheswhich last for several hours. In some poor folk,will last for two or three days. Migraine can be very frightening. In its most severe form, I have seenpeople who think they've had a stroke, because actually they lose the useof one side of their body
during the attack. That is thankfully not common. But it's very common for peopleto lose part of their visual field, so they can't see anything on one side or everything in one part of theirvision has zigzag lines through it. That's very common. One in six migrainesufferers will suffer with that. It can be frightening,particularly the first time. My cutoff really
is if you are suffering with migrainesmore than once or twice a fortnight. Really, you should behaving a chat to me about what else we can doto try and prevent them. There's been lots of debateabout what really causes migraine. I think the jury is still out. One theory is that, for some reason, particular triggersin susceptible people, and it does seem to run in families,
will cause a spasm of the blood vesselssupplying the brain. So that temporarilythe blood supply is impaired, which is what gives the problemswith vision and so on. Then as the blood vessels dilateafter the spasm, you then get the pounding headache. The thing about migraine isrecognising what triggers it for you. Really, the first thing I dowith any of my patients who we think may have a migraine
is to get them to keep a symptom diaryand a food and drink diary. What we usually find,relatively quickly, you can identify your own triggers. So, really it's a case of tryingto identify what will cause it for you and then avoiding those. For many people, actually,that's all they need to do. If, despite all that,you're still struggling with symptoms, then many will cope with their symptomswith simple overthecounter remedies.