What is migraine and who gets it?

What is migraine?

Migraine is where you sometimes have headaches that are a bit different from the ones most people have. You can also have stomach pain, which is known as abdominal migraine.

We call these migraine attacks, and they can cause lots of different feelings.

You can feel…….

Sick or be sick, feel sleepy, floppy or dizzy, and bright lights, loud sounds and strong smells can make you feel worse.

You might also see bright spots, stars or wavy lines and it might be hard to think, hear or talk. Things might look blurry or you might not be able to see very well. We call this migraine aura.

Not everyone feels the same way when they have a migraine attack

Your migraine attacks may feel different from your sister’s or your friend’s and that is normal. Each attack can last from a few hours to as long as three days.

One in seven people have migraine so it’s very common.

Why do some people have migraine?

People with migraine have special brains and we’re not too sure why.

Lots of people with migraine have family members with migraine. If your mum, dad, grandad or grandma has migraine, you might get it too.

Nobody can help if they have migraine or not

It’s like how some people are short and some people are tall, or some people have blue eyes and some people have brown eyes. We’re all different and that’s what makes us who we are.

Migraine triggers

Sometimes a migraine attack just happens and we don’t know by. But sometimes something in our environment, or the way we’re feeling that day, makes one happen.

Lots of different things can make a migraine attack happen, like:

  • A bad night’s sleep
  • Being thirsty
  • Feeling worried
  • Being hungry
  • The weather
  • Banging your head
  • Bright lights
  • Loud sounds
  • Exercise
  • Hormonal changes (like your period)

We call these migraine triggers. Avoiding migraine triggers can help to stop a migraine attack from happening. For example, if you get migraine attacks when you’re really hungry, you should always eat three meals a day and have healthy snacks in between.

Sometimes one migraine trigger isn’t enough to cause an attack, but a few together can.

Imagine you have a bucket

You pour in some pebbles, and then some sand, and then some sea shells. The bucket fills up and starts to spill over. The pebbles didn’t fill the bucket on their own, but the pebbles, sand and shells all together did.

This is just like a migraine attack.

Two, three or four migraine triggers together might cause your bucket to spill over into a migraine attack, but one by itself might not.

Keeping a headache diary can help us work out what our migraine triggers are. Then we know which ones to try and avoid.