WHERE MIGRAINE COMES FROM
Migraine is more than just a bad headache – it’s a constellation of symptoms including pain, nausea, vomiting and visual disturbances, that can last anywhere from a few hours to several days.
“Migraines affect around 15 per cent of the Australian population, which is more than three million people,” says Gerald Edmunds, secretary general of the Brain Foundation, which incorporates Headache Australia. “Typically the pain is focused more on one side of the head and it intensifies with exposure to things like light and sound, so during a migraine episode, many people find they need to retire to a quiet room with the curtains closed.”
The condition is the sixthleading cause of disability in the world, but its impacts go far beyond physical health.
“Migraines can substantially lower a person’s quality of life causing isolation, when people can’t attend social events due to migraine, or financial losses, when people have to take a great number of days off work,” Edmunds says. “Genetic factors can play a large role in migraine susceptibility and in a person who is more vulnerable to migraines there are many possible triggers, including hormonal factors, diet, stress and sleep patterns,” Richard Stark of Monash University says. “A hair-trigger nervous system can also be responsible for triggering migraines,” Stark says. “This easily excited nervous system often responds to triggers that would not bother other people such as certain perfumes, odours and weather changes, stress, too little sleep and loud noise.” But cutting-edge treatments may address this hypersensitivity.