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Living with Headaches

Dr Mark Weatherall, Consultant Neurologist at The Medical Chambers Kensington, specialises in treating and managing headaches and migraines which is what he does most of the time.  Little-known is that he also has a love of writing and has published several books, including Gentlemen, Scientists and Doctors: Medicine at Cambridge 1800-1940.

Living with Headaches a Guide to Understanding and Treating Your Symptoms, his latest book, will be welcomed by many and he has written a blogpost for us here….


Headaches are universal. Most of us experience occasional mild tension-type headaches, but these rarely cause any major problems. More severe, recurrent headaches, however, are a different story. One in three people experience migraines at some point in their lives. Migraines cause debilitating head pain, associated with other features such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to lights, noises, and movement; many people with migraine also experience aura, a period of neurological impairment usually affecting vision, but which can also impair speech, sensation, co-ordination or cognition.

Migraine has a huge impact on sufferers’ family and social lives. It accounts for 3 million lost working days every year in the UK, costing the economy over £ 4 billion annually.

To make things worse, many migraine sufferers are dismissed by doctors, are told there is nothing that can be done for them, and struggle to find reliable, practical advice about how to live with headaches.

However, help is now at hand. Dr Mark Weatherall, consultant neurologist and headache specialist at The Medical Chambers Kensington, has drawn on over 20 years’ experience as a neurologist, both in NHS and private practice in the UK, to produce Living with Headaches. This book covers the headache basics (the common types of headache and how they are diagnosed), the science behind headaches, and treatment options (from lifestyle modifications to surgery). It answers some of the most frequently-asked questions about headaches, including what one can expect from a headache consultation, whether a brain scan is required (sometimes), whether headaches run in families (they do), and what the role hormones play in headaches (it’s complicated).

“People who suffer from headaches, and those who care for them, will find Living with Headaches very helpful in helping them understand headaches better, and in providing some practical steps to improve matters,” says Dr Weatherall, “and if, after reading Living with Headaches, they decide to consult a headache specialist, the advice contained in the book will enable them to have a fuller, more constructive conversation with their specialist.”

Living with Headaches also presents information on modern, effective therapies such as Botox, the monthly migraine injections (Aimovig, Ajovy and Emgality), and the new oral therapies (Vydura and Aquipta). It has been described on social media as a “very thoughtful, humane and helpful book”. One reviewer comments that her “favourite thing about the book is the author's consistent and genuine tone of reassurance throughout the book. You feel heard, validated, understood and supported by his narrative.” Another reviewer calls it “a must have read for all migraine sufferers to help them understand their condition in much more detail”.

“It is always helpful to talk about your headaches with someone who understands the science, can make a diagnosis, and come up with a treatment plan,” concludes Dr Weatherall. “The old myth, that nothing can be done for people who suffer from headaches, has never been less true.”

Living with Headaches is available at bookstores, and online.