The symptoms: Pain that’s localised to one side ofthe head; sensitivity to light, sound and smell; nausea. Some people may also experience aura (spots before the eyes) beforethe onset ofa migraine. It can last from a few hours to a couple of days.
The cause: “For migraines, there are lots oftriggers but they vary between people,” explains Gerald Edmunds, secretary general of The Brain Foundation (brainfoundation.org.au). “These can include stress and lifestyle, [lack of or too much] sleep and missing meals – and the type of meals you’re having might not be conducive to good health either.” Food such as aged cheese, red wine and processed meats are known to set off migraines, thanks to a substance they contain called tyramine. Even changes in weather can have an effect.
Soothe it: Reaching for painkillers and retreating to a dark room might be your first instinct, but ifyou want to regain control and prevent future attacks, keeping a detailed journal ofyour migraines is essential. “Everyone has to become their own experiment,” says Edmunds. “We ask people with migraines to keep a diary, to work out was it a hot day, was it windy, did you get caught in traffic for hours, were you up late, did you miss a meal?” You’ll also want to track what medications were effective and work closely with your GPon treatment options.
Watching your diet is also key, says nutritionist Amanda Hamilton. “Two nutrients that may help are magnesium levels ofwhich tend to be lower in migraine sufferers – and riboflavin,” she says. “Magnesium is found in leafy veg, grains and nuts, while riboflavin is found in meat, eggs, beans, nuts and dairy.”