MANY of our readers across Kildare will recognise the symptoms. A throbbing ache in one side of the head, nausea and perhaps vomiting, confusion, sensitivity to light, strong smells and sound, and a general desire to simply crawl under the covers and fall unconscious until the attack passes.
Migraine is the most common neurological condition in the world, according to the Migraine Association of Ireland (MAI), a complex condition that is usually inherited and is very individual – some people might experience one or two attacks a year, while for others it’s a weekly affliction.
Migraine can have a significant impact on quality of life and a lot of the onus of managing the condition falls on those who suffer from it, from identifying and avoiding triggers to getting good-quality sleep and finding exercise that is of benefit to them.
During Migraine Awareness Week 2019, which will run from Monday 9 to Sunday 15 September, MAI is encouraging migraine sufferers across Kildare to experience the migraine-reducing benefits of the ‘green gym’ and explore the potential health benefits of connecting with their environment.
Many people with migraine avoid exercise as it can sometimes trigger a migraine attack or exertion-related headache. Some find that, for example, the gym can be a triggering environment with bright lighting, hot temperatures and loud music, and avoid exercise because they associate the gym with getting a migraine. “Maybe if they tried some gentler forms of exercise, or outside exercise, it can be… beneficial to them,” said Debbie Hutchinson, Communications and Information Officer with MAI.
During Migraine Awareness Week, MAI will hold several meet ups and events around the country that people can attend and try out different types of outdoor exercise, such as swimming in the sea (with potential benefits for stress reduction) and forest bathing (a walk through a park or forest guided by a forest therapist).
If you would like to hold a local meet up, like a walk in the park or an outdoor yoga class, MAI can share it through their social media channels. “We’ll put it up as an event and people can go along to it,” said Debbie. “I think it would be good for people to just meet up locally and use Migraine Awareness Week as an opportunity to meet up locally.”
She also noted that, if gym owners in the area are interested, the organisation can advertise that they are holding migraine-friendly sessions. Later in the year, MAI will be looking into doing training sessions with gyms and providing them with a certificate to say they are a migraine-friendly space. The association will also be running a free coping with pain workshop in the Celbridge Manor Hotel on Thursday 24 October from 7-9pm, which will teach people coping strategies for dealing with chronic pain conditions.
In addition, this year’s awareness week will feature the Irish premiere of the documentary 100 Days of Vitamin Sea . The director, Beth Francis, suffers from chronic migraine and the film documents the journey of Beth and her partner Andy in their attempt to regain health and connect with the natural environment. The duo have since become involved in a research project seeking to apply the therapeutic benefits of cold-water swimming to help other migraine sufferers.
For more information about migraine, the different types and how you can manage it, visit migraine.ie.