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Managing Pain 2021

Managing migraine in the pandemic

iStock / Getty Images Plus / bunditinay

Gemma Jolly

Head of Information and Support, The Migraine Trust

A survey by The Migraine Trust found that over half of people with migraine experienced worsening symptoms and frequency of migraine during the pandemic. 

Many people with migraine have found the pandemic has caused a change in their condition. People reported their migraine becoming more frequent or the symptoms more severe. The increase in stress and anxiety, coupled with changes in routine has negatively affected a lot of people with migraine. Many people also found appointments with doctors cancelled leading to uncertainty about treatments and support. 

Prioritising self-care 

Self-care is important in migraine management. However, it’s likely to be more challenging at the moment. If you already have a self-care regime in place, keep going with it even though it may be more difficult. 

We know migraine likes routine and balance, so it’s important to try and stick to your usual routines as much as possible. For example, waking up at the same time and eating at your usual times.  

We know many aggravating factors can’t be avoided or fully controlled, such as stress, weather change, hormones. However where known triggers exist, it can help to manage these. 

Generally, the following may help as well: 

  • Take care of your mental health and be kind to yourself. 
  • Try to exercise regularly, and get outside if you can. Going for a walk, or following a daily exercise class can help. 
  • Try to stick to a healthy diet and drink at least two litres of fluid a day. 
  • Avoid too much caffeine and alcohol. 

We know migraine likes routine and balance, so it’s important to try and stick to your usual routines as much as possible

Accessing help and treatment 

For people whose migraine attacks have increased or become more severe they can start by trying to self-manage at home. If this doesn’t work, or you find yourself taking too many painkillers, you should speak to your GP. They should be able to review your symptoms and treatment plan.  

If your symptoms change or you experience a new type of headache you should contact your GP immediately for review. It’s important to tell them the symptoms are new or different, so they know you need an urgent review.  

Some people who require outpatient appointments including Botox may find they have been postponed or cancelled. This can be really unsettling and upsetting. Your specialist may be in touch to discuss alternative treatment plans. If you don’t hear from your specialist you should contact your GP. They can review your treatments, or if unsure can access advice from their local neurology or headache service.  

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