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Migraine - Ask your Pharmacist

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse St, Mullingar. If you have any health questions e-mail them to


Migraine is a real condition, just like asthma, diabetes or epilepsy. Although not life threatening, it has been found to have a greater impact of quality of life than conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. The World Health Organisation classifies migraine as the 12th leading cause of disability worldwide among women and the 19th overall. This is the first of three articles in the Westmeath Examiner on migraines.


What is migraine?

Migraine is more than just a headache. It is a complex, attacking neurological condition. Attacks last anything from a couple of hours to perhaps three days.


Migraine affects 12-15% of people worldwide (around 1 billion), with similar % figures reported (up to 500,000) for those living with the condition in Ireland. In as many as 60% of cases the condition is inherited.


Prior to puberty, boys experience migraine as often as girls. Once into adulthood, migraine becomes three times more common in women than in men. This is due in large part to the hormonal changes in women from puberty to menopause. The highest prevalence is in women around age 40 then rates tail off after menopause.


With such a high numbers affected in Ireland, it stands to reason that there are also economic and work related impacts to be considered. 92% of Irish migraineurs report that attacks affect their performance at work, with 39% of those, being severely affected.  As a consequence, the unemployment rate for those with severe migraine is 2 – 4 times higher than the prevailing overall rate. Migraine accounts for the loss of over ½ million working days in Ireland each year, with 37% of working Irish migraineurs missing more than 5 days per annum.



Whilst the precise cause of migraine is unknown, it is generally accepted that it relates to the abnormal functioning of nerve cells that affect the brain’s ability to process information such as pain, light, sounds and other sensory stimulants. 


There are a number of “trigger factors” and a person finds that a pattern emerges of attacks.  These factors can be physical, environmental or genetic and in the majority of cases it will be a particular individual combination that will precipitate an attack.  Identifying triggers is one of the keys to successful management of the condition.


Upcoming Migraine Talk

Whelehans Pharmacy in conjunction with Migraine Association of Ireland is hosting a Migraine Information evening on Tuesday June 23rd at 7pm in the Greville Arms Hotel in Mullingar. Admission is free. Speakers on the night will include Dr. Martin Ruttledge, Consultant Neurologist from the Beaumont Migraine Clinic. Dr Ruttledge is one of the top neurologists in the country, and the top when it comes to migraine and headache. There will be other speakers including Nutritionist Aisling Murray and Pharmacist Eamonn Brady and help and advice from Migraine Association of Ireland on the night. Call the Whelehans Pharmacy at 04493 34591 for more information or to book a place.


To be continued….next week I will discuss migraine symptoms and triggers.

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