Not just a headache: global migraine expert en route to Westmead

Peter Goadsby is a Professor of Neurology with the Headache Group at King’s College Hospital, London. Picture: Touch Medical Media

The world’s leading migraine researcher is coming to Westmead Hospital to share his expertise down under.

Professor Peter Goadsby from King’s College in London will begin the headache symposium on day one of Hospital Week, which runs from August 28-30.

Professor Goadsby will speak on the history of the Australian contribution to migraine research and other talks will cover topics including the management of acute and chronic migraine.

‘The painful truth’ of migraine is also a focus of World Brain Day today.

A migraine is a severe headache associated with a spasm of the blood vessels leading to the brain. Symptoms often include affected vision, nausea, vomiting and numbness. The condition affects one in seven people.

Westmead Hospital neurologist Dr Andrew Duggins is one of the Hospital Week symposium chairpersons, and said it will be a privilege to hear from the world expert on migraine.

Westmead Hospital neurologist Dr Andrew Duggins

Dr Duggins has been working at Westmead Hospital since 1992 and frequently works with patients to diagnose and manage the condition.

“The general public uses migraine to mean a bad headache, so the first thing for us is to determine whether they are really suffering from migraines,” he said.

“We look to see whether it is episodic, for example once every few weeks, and the associated symptoms such as nausea, light sensitivity and visual distortion.”

Migraine treatment includes acute (what to do when a migraine hits) and preventative.

Dr Duggins said people who suffer from migraines can get into a habit of daily medication use, which can lead to daily headaches due to analgesia (pain relief) overuse.

“The only way to treat analgesia overuse headaches is to quit cold turkey,” he said.

“I recommend people with analgesia overuse headaches get the support they need, take a week off work and get someone to mind the kids, so they can just focus on managing their headaches without medication.”

The headache symposium will run from 9am to 1pm on Wednesday August 28, as part of the ‘Health in the West’ program for Hospital Week at Westmead Hospital. The event is open to NSW Health staff.

Read more about the week or download the program to find out about other exciting topics to be covered.