Migraine Awareness Week

September 7th, 2011


Migraine Awareness Week (MAW) is an annual event starting on the first Sunday in September each year. In 2011 it runs from Sunday 4th September to Saturday 10th September.

Around 8% of three-year-old children are affected by headaches. By the age of 15, this figure has risen to 75%, according to the Migraine Association of Ireland.

Although 60% of children who develop migraine in childhood will go into remission, the illness will re-emerge again later in adult life in about 20% of cases.

Migraine is an intense throbbing headache, usually occurring in just one half of the head. The headache is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, sound or strong smells, and can last for several hours or even days. About 20% of people with migraine also experience an ‘aura’ (visual disturbances) before the headache begins.

Around 400,000 people in Ireland (10% of the population) are thought to suffer from migraines, and they are more common in women than men.

Some people may start to experience various symptoms even before a migraine begins, which can act as an early warning sign that an attack is about to begin. These early symptoms can include food cravings, change in mood and change in energy levels.

The aura sometimes associated with migraine will also be experienced before the actual headache phase. An aura may last for around 20-60 minutes and normally involves visual disturbances e.g., blind spots or seeing flashing lights and zig-zag patterns. Aura can also involve pins and needles, slurring of speech, muscle weakness, less of co-ordination and confusion.

Once the headache stage begins there may be:

  • Intense, throbbing headache – usually on one side of the head
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light, noise or smells
  • Stiff neck
  • Blurred vision

This is followed by a ‘resolution’ stage, as the attack gradually fades away, followed by a postdromal or recovery phase.

If you would like to know what causes migraine and how to prevent or treat it check Irish Health Web Page


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