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HEALTH: THE SILENT SUFFERERS.

MIGRAINE

FACTFILE

Migraine Action Association, 178a High Road, Byfleet, Surrey, KT14 7ED. Tel 01932 352468. To receive a free copy of the booklet Tackling Migraine Together send an A5 sae to the association.

FOR more than 20 years Sue Rayner suffered migraine attacks, often lasting for days, which forced her to lie in bed in a dark room.

But a chance conversation with her new GP changed her life. Now, as soon as she get the early-warning signs, she pops a pill.

"I'd never thought to bother the GP about my migraine," says Sue, 51, from Byfleet, Surrey. "I just tried to fight through it and keep going. My father had migraine and I just accepted that it was something I had to bear.

"I took painkillers that I bought over the counter, although they weren't really very successful."

Sue's first migraine attack came when she was 18. The pain developed on one side of her head and affected the vision in her left eye.

"At first, attacks lasted for seven or eight hours but as I got older they went on for three or four days," says Sue. "Thankfully I wasn't sick but it was very debilitating.

"I knew when they were coming on because I would get a tight feeling in my head and a tenseness in my neck."

Sue believes her migraines are triggered by hormonal factors because they stopped completely for ten years while she was raising her three children, now grown up.

But the attacks started again, and they were more severe and lasted longer.

Drug

When Sue moved house she registered with a new doctor and mentioned she suffered from migraine.

"It was the best thing I ever did," says Sue. "The GP told me there was a new drug on the market and asked if I would like to try it.

"The next time I felt a migraine coming on I took one Imigran tablet and within 20 minutes I felt fine. I couldn't believe it."

Research by the Migraine Action Association found that half of all sufferers never consult their GP and remain unaware of the wide range of treatments available to improve their quality of life.

During Migraine Awareness Week, which starts on Monday, the charity is encouraging people to speak to their GPs.

It has also published Tackling Migraine Together, a booklet explaining how to get the best treatment.

"Migraine can have a major impact on sufferers' lives, yet often people believe mistakenly that nothing can be done or that their doctor will not understand the effect migraine has on their life," says the MAA's director, Ann Turner.

"We hope this week will break down barriers and help sufferers develop good relationships with their GPs and make informed choices about migraine."

Headache for one in 10

ONE in ten Britons suffer from migraine, which affects twice as many women as men. An attack can last for anything between three and 72 hours, and the average sufferer experiences 13 attacks a year.

Migraine is more than just a headache. Other symptoms include visual disturbance, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light and noise and tingling or pins and needles in the limbs. Attacks are triggered by a huge variety of factors, and symptoms and triggers vary greatly from person to person. Although there is no cure, the condition can, in most cases, be effectively managed.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 3, 1999
Words:563
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