Evanne Ní Chuilinn: "I experience six or seven migraine attacks some months"
"I would regularly have to go home early from a class, a day trip or a night out because of migraine."
Evanne Ní Chuilinn has described the pain and debilitation of experiencing repeated and frequent migraines from a young age.
The RTÉ presenter and sportswoman says that she began experiencing migraines when she was just six years old. The condition is Ireland's fifth most prevalent disability, with 12 - 15% of the population being affected by migraines.
Ní Chuilinn says she lived with frequent migraines throughout her childhood and teenage years before eventually speaking to her doctor about the condition.
"I described a pain in my eyebrows to my Mum and I was squinting," she says. "It developed into a very bad sensory experience. Throughout my teens and university years, I would regularly have to go home early from a class, a day trip or a night out because of migraine.
"Some months I experience six or seven migraine attacks, while other months are better and I may only have two episodes."
Migraine triggers can differ from person-to-person. Evanne's include bright lights, noise, and smoky atmospheres, as well as stress, tiredness and dehydration. Other triggers can include weather changes, sensory stimulation, and consuming alcohol.
Despite migraine's prevalence in the Irish population and beyond, oftentimes the condition can go unmanaged with many patients avoiding speaking to their doctor about their experience.
Evanne says that although discussing migraine prevention with her GP didn't end the attacks entirely, it did give her the tools to manage the condition better - so does staying hydrated and taking herself to a dark, quiet room when an attack begins.
"Recently I decided that I wanted to really try to tame my migraine and arranged a neurological consultation," she says. "Hopefully, this will be the year I finally get my migraine under control.”
New research from the Migraine Association of Ireland (MAI) in partnership with Novartis shows that 68% of Irish people living with migraine believe their condition will continue to interrupt their lives this year.
32% of people report losing 12 days or more due to migraine each month, while most people fear that migraines will affect day-to-day living, their social life, and even their career progression.
In response, the MAI has introduced a new campaign to encourage an empowering means of managing migraines and seeking help where needed. The 'Tame your Migraine' campaign is supported by Ní Chuilinn and aims to encourage more people to actively manage their condition - which, for many, has become more debilitating since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr. Martin Ruttledge, Consultant Neurologist at Beaumont Hospital and The Hermitage Clinic says that although almost one third of migraine patients have not been in contact with their GP in the last year, "it is encouraging to see that approximately one fifth (22%) of respondents contacted their GP about their migraine in the last month."
"If you’re worried about your condition, please contact your GP to discuss management options. I have talked with many patients throughout the years who have become frustrated and lost hope, convinced there was nothing that could be done for them. To those out there feeling the same right now, there is hope and there are better treatments available."
If you have been affected by any of the details of this story, you can contact the Migraine Association of Ireland on firstname.lastname@example.org or 1850 200 378.