But despite it affecting one in seven adults, there is still a general lack of understanding about migraines and what can be done to lessen their impact. This can mean that those affected spend years suffering without seeking the help and support that is available, with the condition affecting their work life, social events and relationships.
Joanna Hamilton-Colclough, Director of Migraine Action, says that the understanding of friends and family can make a huge difference to someone who's experiencing a migraine. "Because people don't know a lot about the condition, migraines are often dismissed as a headache, she says. "Showing your partner that you understand and are there to help is the kindest thing you can do."
1. Learn how migraines affect your partner
Migraines can vary from person person, but they often present with the same symptoms, including sensitivity to light and nausea. Knowing that this is different to a standard headache will help you to be sensitive and provide your partner with the things they need to be comfortable.
2. Encourage them to visit the GP
Migraines can take many forms and treatments can vary depending on the diagnosis, so a visit to the GP is key. By seeking the help and support that is available, your partner will be able to manage their condition, rather than allowing migraine to take control. Remind your partner that migraines can be a lifelong condition, so they shouldn't be afraid to ask for help and support.
3. Show your support
Migraine sufferers are sometimes labelled as 'boring' or 'spoilsports' because they need to manage their lifestyle and avoid known triggers. Those who believe alcohol is a trigger may feel pressured in social occasions ("Go on, one drink won't hurt"). Show your support and understanding for their management techniques and don't pressure them into doing something which may ultimately trigger an attack.
4. Recognise the warning symptoms
Some sufferers experience warning signs that an attack may be imminent. For some this is excessive yawning, for others it is a feeling of euphoria or depression, for others it can be craving particular foods. While your partner may not notice these signs, you may come to recognise them. You can then let your partner know that you believe an attack may be imminent and encourage them to take early steps to help manage the it.
5. Help reduce their anxiety
Stress can be a huge factor in migraine attacks, so anything you can do to help reduce anxiety will be beneficial - from being there to talk to about worries or doing the shopping to give them some relaxation time. Encourage your partner to put themselves first at least once a day, whether this is reading a book for ten minutes, having a bath or going for a walk.
6. Know the best way to help
Find out what your partner wants from you during an attack - from giving them a back rub to fetching them a cold flannel and some water, to knowing just to leave them quietly to sleep off their attack. During some attacks it's likely that your partner won't be able to carry out their usual daily activities, so devise an 'action plan' of what to do during these times, such as phoning in sick to the office.
Migraine Action is calling for people to host a food-related fundraiser between Monday 28th October and Sunday 10th November to show their support for the millions of people currently living with migraines in the UK. To find out more, visit www.migraine.org.uk
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