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Monday, 31 August, 1998, 09:45 GMT 10:45 UK
Alternative approach to tackling migraine misery
Man having acupuncture
Alternative therapy like acupuncture can help ease migraine pain
Alternative therapies which aid relaxation could help Britain's six million migraine sufferers.

A booklet published by the Migraine Trust to mark the beginning of Migraine Awareness Week says homeopathic therapies can ease pain.

One in 10 British adults is thought to suffer migraines and up to one in nine children aged between five and 15 is affected, particularly teenagers.

The trust's booklet gives information on the effectiveness of alternative treatments and predicts which treatment or combination of treatments will help which sufferers.

Relaxation therapies, such as biofeedback, a therapy which teaches patients how to relax, are thought to be best at relieving the symptoms of migraine.

Drugs

Traditionally, migraine has been treated with pain relief drugs, but regular use can cause a condition known as Chronic Daily Headache.

There are several types of migraine including common migraine, classic migraine - whose symptoms include visual disturbance, and cluster headaches - which mainly affect men.

Migraines can induce feelings of nausea, sensitivity to light, noise and smell, a stiff neck and shoulders, numbness, tunnel vision, flashing lights and mood swings.

Chemical change

The exact cause is unknown, but experts believe they are the result of a chemical change in the blood vessels in the brain.

Triggers can include pollution, exposure to bright light, hormone changes, stress, drinking alcohol, eating certain foods such as food containing wheat products and monosodium glutamates and lack of sleep.

Migraine sufferers, who are most likely to be women, are at a slightly increased risk of having a stroke.

This week experts from around the world gather in London for the 12th Migraine Trust International Symposium. Topics to be discussed include childhood migraine and cluster headaches.

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