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Women’s Health Part1

Posted by Eamonn Brady on


Over the next three weeks I discuss three common conditions in women, namely:

  • Migraine
  • Dysmenorrhea (Period related issues)
  • Osteoporosis


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

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 in women is around age 40, then tailing off in the post-menopausal years.



Whilst the precise cause of migraine is unknown, 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 or triggers


Triggers can come from a variety of different sources: -

  • Environmental (examples)
    • Light related, ie Bright, Flickering of different types of light
    • TV/ Computer screens
    • Weather
    • Loud or persistent noise



  • Dietary (examples)
    • Up to 20% of attacks may be diet related (low scientific evidence)
    • Skipping meals
    • Foods which are high in the amino acids tyramine and/ or phenylethylamine
      • Cheese (hard or mouldy types)
      • Chocolate
      • Alcohol (Beer and red wine particularly)
      • Caffeine (coffee, tea, etc.; although caffeine can be used to prevent migraine, down to personal tolerance)
    • Hormonal
      • Oestrogen fluctuations due to menstruation or through use of oral contraceptive pills or HRT can sometimes trigger migraine
      • Conversely, migraine susceptibility can decrease during pregnancy when oestrogen levels are high
      • In the main, migraine attacks lessen post menopause (although can increase in the years preceding it).



Key to successful treatment is correct diagnosis of migraine and eliminate other potential causes. Seeking advice from the pharmacist at an early stage and reviewing current medication may prove hugely beneficial in identifying and / or preventing “medicine overuse headache”. There are many over the counter medications that the pharmacist in conjunction with your GP can discuss.


  • Paracetamol - effective for mild to moderate pain, but without anti-inflammatory effects


  • Combinations - drugs that contain aspirin or paracetamol along with another agent such as codeine or caffeine (risk of “overuse headaches with codeine based products so best avoided)


  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s)

Generally used for more severe migraine attacks; evidence shows Ibuprofen to be highly effective. Soluble forms may act quicker than tablet form for those where stomach issues are part of their migraine episode.

Check out more info on successful prescription-only options for migraine at

To be continued next week….I discuss dysmenorrhea (Period pain)

For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, log on to or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore). Find us on Facebook.

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