Do you suffer from migraines?

Today is World Brain Day and the spotlight is on one of the world’s most common brain diseases – migraine. Here’s what you should know.

If you’re a student, teacher or researcher in the School of Biomedical Sciences you will have a passion for advancing human health. But, how much do you know about this disease which affects one in seven people worldwide?

Migraine is the leading cause of disability worldwide for people under 50, according to Professor Tissa Wijeratne, World Brain Day Chair, of the World Federation of Neurology.

It can severely impact every aspect of a person’s life – family, relationships, study, work and more.

"Migraine causes great personal suffering and has an impact on the social circle around the sufferer," says Associate Professor Peter Crack, of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

"Migraine is a major cause of disability, which translates to a huge clinical and economic burden to individuals and society."

“For people who are younger than 50 years of age, this is the leading cause of disability worldwide - beating breast cancer, beating dementia, beating stroke, beating diabetes, beating obesity even,” says Professor Wijeratne.

“Migraine is the least respected, the most neglected, worst managed medical disorder right across the world. Unfortunately, this is not helping suffering patients.”

The neurological disorder relates to blood flow and nerves around your head. Migraines usually result in acute pain in the back of the neck and head, extending to your eyes and forehead.

Attacks can last from two to 72 hours with symptoms including aura (e.g. blinking light), vision impairment, numbness in your limbs, face, tongue and feet, together with nausea and vomiting.

If you’re a migraine sufferer, you might have trouble tolerating light and sound and when having an attack find it necessary to lie down and rest in a calm and quiet environment.

Usually there is no complete cure, but medication can help reduce the frequency and severity or attacks.

What causes migraine?

There are various triggers that can cause migraine, including:

  • Stress;
  • Sleeping disorders and tiredness;
  • Changes in weather conditions or temperature;
  • Food;
  • Relaxing after a prolonged period of concentration; and
  • Anger.

Learn more about migraine and World Brain Day. Plus, hear from University of Melbourne students about how the condition affects their studies.