A migraine is usually a moderate or severe headache felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head.
Many people also have symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light or sound.
Migraine is a common health condition, affecting around one in every five women and around one in every 15 men. They usually begin in early adulthood.
There are several types of migraine, including:
Some people have migraines frequently, up to several times a week. Other people only have a migraine occasionally. It’s possible for years to pass between migraine attacks.
You should see your GP if you have frequent or severe migraine symptoms.
Simple painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can be effective for migraine. However, be careful not to take too many painkillers as this could make it harder to treat headaches over time.
You should also make an appointment to see your GP if you have frequent migraines (on more than five days a month), even if they can be controlled with medication, as you may benefit from preventative treatment.
You should call 999 for an ambulance immediately if you or someone you’re with experiences:
These symptoms may be a sign of a more serious condition, such as a stroke or meningitis, and should be assessed by a doctor as soon as possible.
Read more about diagnosing migraines.
The exact cause of migraines is unknown, although they’re thought to be the result of temporary changes in the chemicals, nerves and blood vessels in the brain.
Around half of all people who experience migraines also have a close relative with the condition, suggesting that genes may play a role.
Some people find migraine attacks are associated with certain triggers, which can include: