Dr Lucio D’Anna is a Consultant Neurologist at the Department of Stroke & Neurosciences at Imperial College London NHS Trust. He is also Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Division of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London.
If you are experiencing migraine-type symptoms, or you have been previously diagnosed with migraine by a GP, a neurologist migraine specialist can help determine whether you are experiencing true migraines.
Migraine pain can vary in severity. However, it is usually one-sided and throbbing, and may swap sides or affect both sides of the head. Migraine is a complex neurological condition, and a key thing that sets it apart from other types of headache is that additional symptoms are usually involved. The pain normally comes with nausea (feeling sick) or vomiting (being sick), over-sensitivity to light, noise, movement, or smell.
About a third of people affected will also have with ‘aura’, or ‘classical migraine’. In this condition, warning symptoms (the aura) occur before a migraine begins. These most commonly consist of visual disturbances such as flashing lights, often in the shape of zigzags. Migraines can last anything from a few hours to three days. Migraines can be triggered by stress, hunger, certain foods such as chocolate and red wine (although these can be very individual and different from one person to the next), tiredness and lack of body fluid (dehydration). For women, menstrual periods and the use of oral contraceptives can also trigger migraines.
The underlying problem that leads to migraines is still not clear but several theories exist. Experts believe that migraine is probably the result of a series of complex changes in the nerves, blood vessels and chemical signalling within the brain.
Diagnosing migraine usually begins with a migraine specialist taking an in-depth look at your symptom history and patterns. Alongside this, at Dementech Neuroscience Clinic, we offer a comprehensive approach to headaches and migraine including multiaxial assessments of symptoms and investigation of other neuropsychiatric issues associated with headaches, blood and imaging assessments. We will use blood tests and imaging scans to precisely make the diagnosis and differentiate from other disorders.
While migraine can be immensely debilitating, with the correct treatment and self-management techniques, it is possible to find relief and bring your symptoms under a good level of control. Our headache and migraine specialists are here to help ensure you get the right treatment and advice for you.
There are several medications that can be used for the acute attacks of a migraine. Some people with frequent migraines may take a daily tablet to act as a migraine preventer. At Dementech Neurosciences, we offer pharmacological intervention including injections for the treatment of this invalidating condition.
Lifestyle measures can play an important role in managing migraine too. This often includes identifying triggers and taking appropriate steps to avoid and minimise them, as well as taking steps to manage stress and making time for activities that promote relaxation and wellbeing. Our neurologist migraine specialists believe this can be just as important as medication, and we are happy to provide advice and guidance where required.