Doctors know very little about migraine headaches except that they run in families, and may be caused by many conditions ranging from nervous excitement, disturbed sleep patterns, stress and reactions to certain foods, such as cheese or chocolate. These headaches can last hours, sometimes days, and often come with nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to sound and light, and, perhaps most strangely of all, distorted sensory perception, especially vision. If you add together the range of different symptoms and so many different potential triggers, it is no surprise that researchers are perplexed about the science behind these headaches, or that sufferers seem to find treatments so hit-and-miss.
An estimated 12.5% of people in the UK suffer with migraines meaning that roughly 7 million people in just the UK alone. It is estimated that migraine costs businesses an estimated 1bn pounds every year as a result of lost productivity with the average migraineur missing between 1.5 and 4.5 days from work annually.
In many people migraines are triggered by reactions to foods. Clinical studies have shown that management of the diet can reduce the severity and, or, frequency of headaches or even stop them. The problem with attempting any dietary modification is that first you need to know what to change. Currently the best accepted method for confirming food sensitivities is by elimination diet. This involves eating a restricted diet for several weeks. If there is no reduction in the frequency or intensity of the attacks during this time, it is assumed that the food type that has been restricted is not the problem and the process is repeated with another food type. This method is very time consuming, and because it is impossible to test all the different combinations of food types that may be causing the problems, it is a very ineffective process.
Thankfully, help is at hand with a simple testing service that identifies the trigger foods responsible for food intolerances. This scientific approach, which can be used to identify the different food types involved for each individual, is a blood test that measures food-specific IgG antibodies. Your body is unique and doesn't lie, either you have antibody reactions to certain food combinations or you don't, and the best way to find out is by carrying out a test. You then get an accurate reading of exactly what foods your body is reacting against so that you know what to avoid.
The test is backed by hard evidence; new findings from York University and York Test, who surveyed 514 migraine and headache sufferers, showed that 81% benefited in terms of the frequency and severity of their attacks if they removed the foods from their diet that showed a positive reaction. The fact that people saw a return of their migraine and, or, headache symptoms on reintroduction of the foods identified by the food-specific IgG test supports the fact that this is an active and specific approach. The test used in the study is the York Test foodSCAN, it only requires a few drops of blood from a finger prick that can be collected in the comfort of your own home.
These latest findings are further confirmation of the direct link between certain health complaints and diet. The test that was used for the survey is the only one of its kind endorsed by the charity Allergy UK and York Test has 25 years of experience in the food intolerance testing market. So for those suffering from headaches and migraines, fortunately there's new food for thought in your quest to rid yourself of this burden!
Dr. Gillian Hart is a Scientific Director for York Test Laboratories Ltd. York Test specialist in allergy and food intolerance testing. For more information visit http://www.yorktest.com or call 0800 074 6185.