Minister Dehenna Davison has resigned from her role in government after living with chronic migraines.
The 30-year-old MP for Bishop Auckland in County Durham said in her resignation letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that suffering from the condition has “had a major impact on my ability to fulfill the role”.
“Some days I do well, but on other days it is difficult, if not impossible, to meet the demands of ministerial life – and the timing of such days is never predictable,” she wrote. “While I have tried to mitigate the situation and am grateful to colleagues for their patience at times, I do not feel it is right to continue in this role.”
Chronic migraine is defined as headache on at least 15 days per month, eight of which have migraine symptoms, for at least three months.
According to the NHS, around 10 million people aged 15 to 69 in Britain suffer from migraines. The condition is classified as a disabling disease and usually manifests as a very severe headache with throbbing pain on one side of the head.
Symptoms of chronic migraine
People who suffer from chronic migraines may experience the following symptoms:
Increased sensitivity to light, sound or odors
Aura: A temporary warning symptom before the onset of a migraine that may include visual problems, numbness or tingling sensation that starts in the hand before moving up the arm to the face, and difficulty speaking
Vertigo: a feeling of spinning
Read more: How to get rid of headaches, since it is known how often they occur (especially in women) (Yahoo Life UK, 5 minute read)
What causes chronic migraines?
Scientists and doctors do not know the exact causes of chronic migraines. According to the Migraine Trust, there are some medical conditions that can increase a person’s tendency to get migraines, including:
Other pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (PoTS)
Watch: More than 40% think that migraines and allergies will no longer be a problem in 100 years
Chronic migraines tend to develop gradually as migraines become more frequent over time. About 2.5 in 100 people with episodic migraines (headaches that occur less than 15 days per month) develop chronic migraines.
Some patients may also find that certain triggers can trigger migraines. According to the NHS, these include:
How can chronic migraines affect your life?
The condition can have a significant impact on your daily life, as well as on your personal and professional relationships.
According to research from the Migraine Trust, Brits are estimated to lose a total of 43 million days of work and education every year due to migraines. Meanwhile, 60% of people who suffer from migraines feel that it has significantly affected their relationship with their partner or spouse.
Having regular migraines can also affect a person’s mental health; 71% of patients say it has significantly affected their well-being.
Read more: Do you suffer from migraines? A waffle-like drug has just been approved to relieve extreme headaches (HuffPost UK, 2 minute read)
How can chronic migraines be treated?
If you experience headaches more than 15 days a month, at least eight of which have migraine symptoms, contact your doctor. It is recommended that you keep a headache diary detailing symptoms so that you can correctly diagnose chronic migraines.
Although there is no cure for migraines, there are several treatment options to help patients manage the condition, including drug and non-drug treatments.
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin can help reduce migraine symptoms. These are most effective if taken at the first sign of a migraine attack, says NHS Inform, and you should not wait until the headache gets worse before taking painkillers as it will often be too late.
However, taking too many painkillers can lead to medication overuse headaches, which can make migraines difficult to treat. You should not use them more than 15 days per month.
If over-the-counter pain relievers are not effective in relieving symptoms, primary care physicians may recommend a triptan medication, a specific pain reliever for migraines. These are available in the form of tablets, injections and nasal sprays.
Some side effects of triptans may include flushing and light-headedness, heaviness in the face, throat, limbs or chest, tingling, nausea, dry mouth and drowsiness. GPs may try to prescribe a different type of triptan if the first course of treatment is ineffective or causes unpleasant side effects.
Read more: New mom’s ‘excruciating migraine’ turned out to be a fast-growing brain tumor (Yahoo Life UK, 5 minute read)
Preventive treatment aims to reduce the number and severity of migraine attacks. This may include prescribing beta blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, anti-epileptic drugs and the blood pressure tablet candesartan.
Certain lifestyle changes or holistic treatments such as acupuncture can sometimes help chronic migraine sufferers relieve their symptoms. These usually work best when used alongside other treatment options.