This week is National Migraine Week. In Belgium, 20% of the population has it. Among these people, only 20% are treated well, 40% do not seek treatment and 40% stop treatment, out of discouragement. The opportunity for “La Grande Forme” to take stock with Dr Gianni Franco, neurologist at CHU Namur-Dinant and Vice-President of the “Belgium Brain Council”.
Migraine is a disease of the brain that causes severe headaches. But it is not the only one… among all kinds of headaches, migraine occurs in only 30% of cases. Most of the time, these are headaches “under muscle tension”, due to stress or poor posture, for example.
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Migraine is defined by a whole symptomatology, which is not just a pain, but a whole procession of multiple discomforts. The most common symptoms of a migraine are:
- Sensation that something is going to happen
- In 20% of cases, there are visual disturbances, a mosaic vision
- Intense throbbing pain that changes sides of the skull
- Sometimes digestive problems, vomiting
- Concentration disorders
- Short-term memory loss
When the migraine is over – it can last 36 to 72 hours – there is still the “post-migraine”. It makes the person who suffers from it very tired, obsessed and unable to do their daily or professional activities.
Migraines can repeat themselves over and over over a week or several months and are very debilitating. They are usually caused by “triggered factors” such as:
- Brutal light
- The unexpected shrill noise
- The dehydration
But beware, each patient has their own triggers. Each migraine sufferer has his own experience. People with the disease must pass the course of going to a doctor and being followed. The patient will provide his explanations to the general practitioner, who will be able to help him avoid these triggering factors. Awareness of this campaign is extremely important. The myths about this disease must be debunked.
What treatment (s) are there?
Poor treatment can open the door to medications which in themselves can cause headaches. Awareness of this campaign is important: “It is important to have an approach in alliance with all stakeholders, but especially with the patient” explains Dr Franco. The patient must explain to his doctor what are his triggers. Together, they will choose a treatment that suits him, and readjust it as his history progresses. There are two types of treatments:
- Non-drug treatments: relaxation therapy, stress management, postural exercises.
- Drug treatments. They are multiple and effective when you choose them well and update them. Be careful, you have to be patient for a treatment to work. Often the patient is in a hurry and abandoned because he thinks the treatment is not working.
Migraine sufferers have hypersensitive brains. The base of the brain, in charge of analyzing pain, is hypersensitive. When the brain is confronted with a trigger, it races and ignites the entire nervous network in the brain. If you have a headache that lasts and is associated with fever, confusion, or paralysis, it is not a migraine. It is imperative to go to consult.
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