Recurring headaches? Talk to your doctor about migraine remedies

Patients often treat migraine as a regular headache and it remains undiagnosed and under-treated.

Most migraine sufferers know little or nothing about what triggers their pain. It is a condition neglected by many, who fail to recognise it as a neurological disorder.

Patients often treat migraine as a regular headache and it remains undiagnosed and under-treated.

The most frequently mentioned triggers among migraineurs in the UAE include increased screen time, stress, consuming salty and processed foods, use of additives, irregular sleep pattern and physical exertions, among others. In women, hormonal changes and the use of medication for hormonal replacement therapy can cause and worsen the condition.

The global Migraine Awareness Week (MAW), which starts today until September 7, educates people on reading symptoms of migraine and not to neglect it as recurring headaches.

“The most effective way to treat migraine is a combination of medicine and lifestyle changes. The doctor may prescribe pain-relieving medication or preventive medication, depending on the condition. We have also seen breakthrough developments with new highly effective medicines which can control migraine, exhibiting good results and excellent cure,” said Dr Vivek Karan, head of neurology department at the RAK Hospital.

Doctors advise that it is important to observe signs and symptoms of recurring headaches, keep a record of your attacks and seek medical help to discuss headaches.

Patients are strongly advised against any self-medication, particularly without evaluation – since it can further complicate the condition.

A dedicated website,, managed by pharmaceutical brand Novartis, is actively helping patients in the UAE to keep the condition within their control. The app has a dedicated segment called ‘Migraine Buddy’ which helps users record and identify triggers, symptoms, frequency and duration, and pain intensity and location of their migraines, as well as other lifestyle factors and any medication that was taken.

Migraine is a distinct neurological disease that involves recurrent attacks of head pain that may be pulsating, unilateral and associated with nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, sound and odours.

“Migraine comprises about 20 per cent of chronic headaches worldwide. If you include other forms of primary headaches – Cluster Headache and Episodic and Chronic Tension-Type Headache – the incidence is even higher. Quite a lot of people suffer from what is called Chronic Daily Headache Syndrome – defined as having at least 15 headache days a month. If you relax this strict rule and include those who have 10 headache days a month, then you will probably include about 40 to 50 per cent of people in the UAE,” said Dr Rajshekher Garikapati, specialist neurologist, Aster Hospital, Mankhool.

Migraine is a genetic condition which is fairly common in the UAE, probably more than the global average, according to Dr Garikapati. “I have seen migraine patients coming up with pages detailing various medicines and food items to be avoided. The thing to remember is that only about 20 per cent of migraineurs are thought to be food sensitive,” he said.

Dr Garikapati advised patients to identify if any particular food consistently causes an attack within 20 minutes to two hours after eating it. “If foods have been highly cooked or mixed with various other items, then it is very difficult to be certain that it is a trigger. This is true with Indian, Filipino diets or even Chinese diets. Mediterranean diets may be simpler where the cooking is minimal .”


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