Monday 11 December 2017

Keep your head in the game and prevent migraine

Woman with Headache --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Woman with Headache --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

MIGRAINE sufferers who want to enjoy exercise and sport can end up fearing that the activity will trigger an attack.

There are around half a million people with migraine in Ireland and, like the rest of the population, staying fit is important for their overall health.

There is no need for migraine sufferers to remain on the couch or the sidelines, said Dr Edward O' Sullivan, director of the Cork Migraine and Headache Clinic and medical adviser to the Migraine Association of Ireland.

However, he said they needed to ensure they prepared themselves diligently before the sports event to reduce the risk.

A lot of sports people are migraine sufferers and extreme effort can potentially trigger an attack.

"It is important that they stay well hydrated before a match and eat a number of hours before a game to keep their blood sugars up.

"If they go into a game and their blood sugars drop, that can trigger a migraine. They should be adequately prepared and try not to be unduly stressed," he told Health and Living.

The more competitive the sport, the higher the risk for the participant, he added.

Elite athletes have sought his help in Ireland and international tennis star Serena Williams is also known to suffer migraines.

Australian rugby player Wayne Barnes is another sufferer.

"Contact sports can also bring it on. So he always goes on the pitch with headgear to minimise the impact of tackles.

"If he gets a bang on the head it could cause him to get a migraine. A head injury itself can lead to people developing migraine for the first time.

"Prepare diligently, arrive relaxed and try not to be stressed by being late. Get a good night's rest and take plenty of fluids," he advised.

Meanwhile, cheese, chocolate and red wine can spark migraines in some people. There are medications known as triptans available to treat an acute attack, although for many, regular painkillers will do.

"The important thing is to take it as early as possible after the headache begins," he added.

Migraine is usually an intense headache that occurs at the front or on one side of the head. The pain is usually a severe throbbing sensation. Other symptoms can include nausea or sensitivity to light and sound.

Many are still not medically diagnosed and may be missing out on therapies to fully treat the condition. There are also drugs which people can take to reduce the frequency of attacks, he pointed out.

Dr O' Sullivan, along with a Beaumont Hospital physiotherapist, will give a talk on 'Understanding Migraine in a Sporting Context' at the Anner Hotel in Thurles this Wednesday at 7.30pm.

The event, which is organised by the Migraine Association of Ireland, is free to the public. To register email or telephone 1850-200-378 or 01-8941280. For more information on migraine visit

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