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Helpful Treatments for Migraines


Helpful Treatments for Migraines

Migraine is a very debilitating condition which affects about 500,000 Irish people. The World Health Organisation have found that migraine is one of the top 20 reasons for ill health among adults, especially women.  It is common for people to notice their first migraine attack during puberty, because of the hormonal changes occurring at that time.  About twenty percent of people experience an “aura” when they are having a migraine.  This can be of bright, flashing lights or seeing shapes with their peripheral vision.  An aura can last between 20 minutes and an hour.  The Migraine Association of Ireland has a diary on their website for patients who attend the headache/migraine clinic at Beaumont Hospital to help them to identify the triggers of an attack, and for how many days they endure it.

It is possible to get the condition under control by eliminating food triggers, adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking medication for it.  It is common for sufferers to over medicate and become immune to painkillers if they are consistently taking them.  It is advisable to see your GP if you find this has happened because he can put you on medication or refer you to the migraine clinic at Beaumont Hospital.  MRI brain scans may be used to eliminate another cause for the migraine.  If a person has suffered migraines for longer than six months, then preventative drug therapy in the form of beta blockers, anti-convulsants, anti-histamines, calcium blockers, anti-depressants or anti-inflammatories are used.

In recent years Botox injections have been used to prevent migraine attacks in chronic sufferers.  The Botox deters neurotransmitters from being released, which are the nerve impulses that cause pain.  A doctor trained in administering Botox will insert 31 injections across the head and neck muscles every three months.  The doctor may alternatively use a steroid and anaesthetic injection around the occipital nerves to reduce the severity of headaches.


Symptoms of Migraine

Throbbing or pulsating headache on one side of head behind the eye

Sensitivity to light, sound or smell

Nausea and vomiting

Pins and needles

Weakness or numbness


Stiff sore neck

Sore ear

Watering eyes

Blocked nose


Complimentary therapies for migraine relief

Amatsu (Japanese osteopathy)





Herbal Medicine


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (to alleviate stress)



Magnesium, B vitamins and CoQ 10 supplements

Take regular breaks when working

Reduce or eliminate tea/coffee if this causes an attack

Drink plenty of water

Avoid food triggers e.g. cheese, chocolate, red wine, alcohol.

Get enough sleep but don’t oversleep

Try and avoid bright lights if these are a trigger

Maintain good posture

Take regular exercise

Eat regularly


Esther Tomkins is a clinical nurse specialist at the headache and migraine clinic at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin. She operates the Migraine Association of Ireland’s Advice Line on 01-797 9848 (2.30pm-4.30pm Monday to Thursday). The Migraine Association of Ireland also has a confidential helpline on 1850 200 378 (0844 826 9323 from Northern Ireland, 9am-5pm Monday to Friday).

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