A SENIOR doctor has won an international award for his groundbreaking research into migraines.

The American Headache Society awarded Dr Farooq Maniyar, consultant neurologist at Basildon Hospital, its prestigious Harold G Wolff Lecture honour.

His study was the first to measure brain activity in the early stages of a migraine and its progression.

Nearly half the adult population suffer from headaches at least once a year. In Britain it is estimated 25 million school or work days are lost every year because of migraines.

Sufferers volunteered to have headaches triggered with nitro-glycerine for Dr Maniyar’s study.

They then underwent highly detailed brain scans before the attacks began and as they continued.

The scans revealed changes in key areas of the brain before the headaches started, which could lead to a breakthrough in treating patients.

Dr Maniyar said: “One of the main difficulties in finding effective treatments for migraines is we are not entirely sure what causes them.

“Previous studies have concentrated on the theory they begin in the surrounding nerves and blood vessels. However, our new research shows changes take place in areas of the brain, particularly the hypothalamus, before the headaches begin.

“The hypothalamus maintains the normal environment of the brain.

“It seems to be involved in the early stages of a migraine, which may explain why these headaches occur when people change their routine in a way that causes them stress.”

Last year Dr Maniyar launched a specialist headache clinic at Orsett Hospital, which is open for people referred by their GP or a hospital neurology department.

After picking up his award, Dr Maniyar gave a lecture to the society, in ý Award – Dr Farooq Maniyar picks up his honour Boston.