Migraine FAQs

This is a quick guide to migraines. It may be helpful for sufferers and their friends, family and work colleagues. On this page you will find links to:

  • Information about what migraines are,
  • Information about how to help or get help,
  • Online support groups for migraine sufferers,
  • Other help websites that may be of interest.

What are Migraines?

Migraines are not headaches, though many sufferers can have severe head pain with migraine attacks. Nor are migraines “all in the mind” or psychological. The medical diagnosis migraine covers a family of related conditions. Migraine is partly neurological and partly vascular (blood vessel related). There is also evidence of both genetic predisposition and environmental reasons playing a part in migraine. Drugs to prevent migraine were designed to treat other unrelated conditions. Drugs designed based on knowledge about migraine are in development. But treatments only help around half of sufferers. And to find an effective drug may take time and many different tries. Each drug has the potential for serious side-effects.

The science of migraine is covered more fully in these Saturday Series posts:

The links to the scientific sources are at the end of Part Four.

Help with Migraines

If you think you may be having migraine attacks you should start by seeing your family doctor. Without a diagnosis migraines can be scary for both sufferers and those around them. Some of the symptoms like numbness, paralysis and speech loss mimic strokes. But generally migraines cause no long-term damage. Your doctor’s diagnosis may be the first step to managing your migraines. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist if they are frequent or severe enough. For most people migraines are rare and manageable. But for a few they can be incapacitating.

If you are a friend, family relation or a work colleague you can help a sufferer. The most important things you can do are:

  • Understand what a migraine is,
  • Understand that the sufferer usually can’t control them,
  • Know that the sufferer usually can’t predict them,
  • Know that migraine is not just a headache.

Most importantly, if you are an employer you can educate yourself on what migraines are. By offering flexible working you can help yourself, your company and your employee. Migraines in most cases do not need cut productivity or attendance. Asking them to work through attacks is cruel and could expose you to legal action. And it isn’t necessary.

Sufferers in the UK, or able to get to the UK, may get help from the City of London Migraine Clinic. This is a registered charity who offer consultations for fees patients can afford. They also carry out vital research into the condition. Right now the Clinic is threatened with closure due to a shortage of funds. To find out more, visit their website: City of London Migraine Clinic

Online Support Groups

If you, a friend, family member or colleague suffers from migraine you can find online help from these forums. Please note that they may be aimed more for sufferers with especially severe forms of migraine. Always read any introductory information the forum moderator provides:

If you know of other online forums, please contact me at nospamporillion@hotmail.co.uk Remove ‘nospam’ first!

Other Websites

These websites may be helpful to UK readers if you cannot work due to migraine headaches:

  • Run by a barrister and a writer, this site uses facts gathered under the Freedom of Information Act in the UK. It charges a small yearly fee: http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/
  • The website of Martin Lewis of Channel Five’s It Pays to Watch fame. The site has many money saving tips and loads of forums. Registration and use is free: http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/

I am unable for the moment to continue with this website or my planned project to move it to a dedicated site.

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