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Expatriate Insurance News: Exercise 'may prevent migraines'

Expatriates suffering from migraines who do not wish to take medicines prescribed under international private medical insurance might choose to exercise to alleviate their symptoms.

Working out "will release some opiates that may have an analgesic effect", The Migraine Trust spokesperson Dr Fayyaz Ahmed explained, adding the exact manner in which this happens "remains uncertain".

Similar events are thought to occur during sexual activity, as this releases endorphins with painkilling potential, he continued.

The medical research and health charity representative said he would not currently recommend physical activity as a treatment for this ailment while there is "no robust evidence", but pointed out that exercise generally keeps individuals healthy anyway.

A recent study by Sahlgrenska Academy indicated that working out can be just as useful as drugs in preventing migraine headaches from occurring.

It involved an investigation of 91 patients with this condition, who were split into thirds.

One group performed physical activity three times every week for a period of 40 minutes and another underwent relaxation routines, while the final section was given the drug topiramate.

After three months of analysis and follow-ups after three and six months, the researchers found no difference between the separate methods of treatment regarding their preventative effects.

However, Dr Ahmed argued that "the study was small and the duration was too short" to enable him to make a judgement on it.

He pointed out that some members of the public endure headaches when working out, which are called "exercise-induced migraines or exertional migraines", with physical activity particularly unlikely to be effective for these individuals.

A larger study would be required – with a differential between the placebo and current treatments – for anyone to be "absolutely certain" that workout routines are a potential alternative to oral prophylactic treatment, the spokesman asserted.

Nonetheless, exercise is linked to higher self-confidence and better overall health, Dr Ahmed declared.

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