Stress has been blamed as the most common trigger for migraines, according to GPs.
Certain foods like cheese and chocolate, excess caffeine intake or withdrawal and drinks containing alcohol are also common tirggers for migraines too.
What’s more, 37 per cent of GPs believe that prevalence of migraine is probably on the rise, according to the research from Imigran Recovery.
Classed as among the most disabling illnesses by the World Health Organisation, migraine is likened to the pain of childbirth by 44 per cent of GPs.
Despite this, almost half of GPs report that people often struggle with migraine for too long before seeking advice or taking action. This also applies to diagnosis, with at least 50 per cent of patients estimated to be undiagnosed.
Media medic and practising GP, Dr Sarah Jarvis said: “The impact of stress on our health can never be underestimated. Where there’s a migraine attack, then for a lot of my patients, there’s normally stress involved. Certainly, there are a number of reasons stress may have increased over the years, including the economic downturn to name but one. As a result, migraine prevalence may be increasing and I have seen this among my own patients."
More than half of GPs agree that sufferers are not doing enough to avoid migraine triggers and, as a result, some migraine sufferers can go their whole life without getting their condition under control. Without changes in lifestyle, avoiding triggers and taking medication, migraine cannot be fully controlled, according to 46 per cent of GPs.
Dr Sarah Jarvis continued: “Avoiding stress can be difficult, but it is only through sustained lifestyle changes, alongside medication, that migraine can be controlled. Treatments, such as sumatriptan-based products, can relieve symptoms of a migraine attack, but it’s also important that patients take preventative steps between migraines.
"I often suggest starting with a migraine diary to help pinpoint the triggers. Almost always small lifestyle changes will help, for example taking regular exercise, regular sleeping habits, eating a healthy diet and avoiding caffeine.”
GPs also report a lack of patient awareness about treatments, with 77 per cent believing that migraine sufferers are unaware of the range of treatments available. Often sufferers have misplaced faith in painkillers, unsuccessfully trying to control the condition. Analgesics, such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin, are overused by some migraine sufferers, according to 87 per cent of GPs. As a result, three quarters agree Medication Overuse Headache can be common amongst sufferers.
Despite their overuse, nearly three quarters of GPs believe analgesics provide insufficient relief for some migraine sufferers. As a result, treating and diagnosing migraine can be frustrating, according to 65 per cent of GPs, and 35 per cent believe it is still a poorly understood condition.
According to a separate study of 3,000 migraine sufferers by Imigran Recovery, 86 per cent of sufferers take no preventative action between migraine attacks. This could explain why nearly half of migraine sufferers feel helpless, believing that migraine is untreatable.
It’s no wonder then that more than a quarter of migraine sufferers believe their life would be happier if they could get control of migraine and more than a fifth believe their life would be significantly improved.
Experts believe that the widening of blood vessels in the brain causes the throbbing pain of migraine.