Exam headache for students

MORE than 10% of students suffer from migraine – a debilitating, neurological condition that can last up to three days. As exam season approaches, stress – the most common trigger factor – can bring about increased attacks in sufferers.

MORE than 10% of students suffer from migraine – a debilitating, neurological condition that can last up to three days. As exam season approaches, stress – the most common trigger factor – can bring about increased attacks in sufferers.

“Students with migraine should be aware that special arrangements can be made to facilitate them during state examinations,” says Donna Ryan, Information Officer at the Migraine Association of Ireland [MAI].

“A letter from the student’s doctor should be given to the school in advance of exams and the school can then approach the State Examinations Commission.”

However, the MAI advises students not to solely rely on the examinations commission to facilitate them but to be proactive in managing their condition at exam time.

“Migraine is sparked off by trigger factors,” said Ms Ryan, “Good management involves finding triggers – using a migraine diary – and then eliminating them, if possible, from your lifestyle.”

Common triggers at exam time include stress, missed meals, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, flicker from computer screen and dehydration.

“The migraine brain likes routine,” advises Ms Ryan, “At exam time migraine sufferers should try to maintain this routine, so no overnight cramming, missing meals and snacking on junk food. We’d also advise migraineurs to get some form of exercise – even just a brisk walk during the day – and to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.”

Stress can be harder to manage but the MAI advises migraineurs to set early deadlines so they have more time to prepare if an attack upsets the timetable.

The MAI recently launched a new websites for teenagers, www.migra-zone.ie, where further information can be found.

Worried students, parents and teachers are also welcome to call the Association’s helpline service for advice or to order a free information pack. Call 1850 200 378 (ROI) or 0844 826 9323 (NI). You can also email: info@migraine.ie

In extreme circumstances, if a student suffers with migraine special arrangements can be made to facilitate them if they are taking state exams.

The school needs a letter from the student’s GP/Consultant before approaching the State Examinations Commission.