What is a migraine and what are the symptoms?

A migraine is a condition that often causes moderate or severe painful headaches and can last from 3 hours to 4 days with residual tiredness for up to a week after.

The exact cause of a migraine is unknown. Still, they are thought to result from abnormal brain activity temporarily affecting nerve signals, chemicals and blood vessels in the brain.

What are the symptoms?

There are many symptoms of a migraine, and most people can have one or several of the symptoms. Some people can get some of the symptoms but not the headache, the symptoms are:

  • Throbbing on one side or both sides of the head, this usually worsens when you move and can radiate down the neck
  • Nausea and or vomiting
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Sweating and or feeling hot or very cold
  • Upset tummy and bowels
  • Poor concentration
  • One in three people have temporary warning symptoms before a migraine – visual disturbances, feeling dizzy or off balance plus there are many more.

What causes migraines?

There are many things which can cause migraines. Below is a non-exhaustive list.

  • Stress at work or home
  • Bright or flashing lights
  • Loud noises/sounds
  • Strong smells e.g., perfume, acetone etc.

Treatment for migraines

There’s currently no cure for migraines, although several treatments are available to help ease the symptoms.

It may take time to work out the best treatment for you. You may need to try different types or combinations of medicines before you find the most effective ones.

If you find you cannot manage your migraines using over-the-counter medicines, your GP may prescribe something stronger and may refer you to a Specialist.

Frequently asked questions

Should I stay off work with a migraine?

During some migraine attacks, you might need to take time off work. Some migraines can last between four to 72 hours, so taking a short-term sickness absence might be best to recover.

If I take medication for a Migraine, should I stay off work?

Ask advice from your pharmacist or GP whether the medication you take will affect you driving, using machinery, concentration etc.

As occupational health providers, we help ensure that you and your employees are compliant with our health surveillance and safety-critical medicals.

Call us today and take the first step to a safer work environment.