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For the one in seven people affected, they can be crippling. But as well as identifying individual triggers, looking at the specific combination that affects you could help reduce attacks

FOR ANYONE who usually shifts a headache with a couple of paracetamol it may be hard to understand that a migraine can put you out of action for hours, if not days. The stress of trying to explain to people (especially an employer) that this is more than a headache only adds to the problem. Migraine affects about one in seven people and may be experienced regularly – on average, around 13 times a year. Symptoms include disturbed vision, sensitivity to light, sounds and smells, and nausea and vomiting. Many sufferers have no choice but to lie down for hours until they recover.

The Migraine Trust has reported that 25 million work or school days per year are lost as a result of migraine. In a survey it carried out, four in 10 said their job was at risk, or likely to be at risk because of it.


IT HAPPENS AS A RESULT of abnormal brain activity affecting nerve signals. Pain nerves switch on when nothing’s wrong and, as a result, the body experiences other changes. Peter Goadsby, trustee of The Migraine Trust and professor of neurology at King’s College London, describes it this way: ‘Migraine is an inherited tendency to have headaches with sensory disturbance. It’s an instability in the way the brain deals with incoming sensory information, and that instability can become influenced by physiological changes like sleep, exercise and hunger.’

Learning to recognise the influences, or triggers, that are precursors to an attack can enable sufferers to cope with the condition and to take action to avoid – or limit the impact of – migraines on their life and, in particular, their work.

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