There are many things you may not know about migraine sufferers, even if you, yourself struggle with them. It is common for non-sufferers to think that a migraine is nothing more than a bad headache but it is so much more than that. I have suffered from two different types of migraines since I was 8 years old and I have seen plenty of doctors and specialists, been on more medication than I can count and have tried all sorts of homeopathic solutions. These are the seven most important things I think everyone should know about migraine sufferers.
1. There Are Many Different Types
Not all migraine sufferers are the same. There are approximately 15 types of migraines and not all of them affect the head. Abdominal Migraines cause severe pain behind the navel for anywhere from 1 up to 72 hours. Acephalgic Migraine isn’t accompanied by any pain at all. This is one of the two types that I suffer from and it leaves me completely useless. The first thing that happens is that my hands go numb. A few minutes later my vision becomes distorted and I effectively have only peripheral vision. Not long after that starts I lose my ability to speak. When I try to talk, random words come out of my mouth instead of what I’m trying to say. Most types of migraine cause some form of neurological impairment.
2. Most Migraine Types Affect Other Parts of the Body
When a person is suffering from a migraine it can slow down their ability to think and respond as fast as they normally can, but it can also affect parts of the body you wouldn’t expect. People experiencing a migraine may have a harder time with bowel movements or may feel nauseous and vomit. Migraines can leave suffers with muscle weakness during migraine episodes and some people experience far more severe symptoms such as amnesia and complete loss of eyesight.
3. Migraines Have Many Different Triggers
I have been a migraine suffer for 21 years and I still don’t know all of my triggers. It is nearly impossible to nail down every trigger and ensure that you stay away from them all to avoid getting the migraine. It seems like anything can be a trigger. Light can trigger a migraine. It can be a certain type of light such as a neon light or a fluorescent light or it can simply be the way the light is behaving, like a flickering light, a strobe light or the way the light reflects off of a window into your eyes. Smells can be triggers, especially potent perfumes and colognes. Your feelings can trigger a migraine. Depression, even seasonal depression, can cause migraines. For some people, relaxing after a period of stress and tension can cause an episode. Sleeping too much or too little can cause them in certain people as can skipping meals. Most doctors recommend keeping a trigger diary, but it doesn’t always work for everyone, especially if you have a plethora of triggers.
4. Medication Doesn’t Always Help
I can’t count the number of times I’ve felt an attack coming on and told a boss, co-worker or friend that I needed to leave or lie down only to have them say “Can’t you just take a pill?” As I’ve said, it is not “just a headache”. I have been on countless medications some of them don’t work at all, some of them only help with certain symptoms and some only work if I take them within a certain time frame. The only thing that has ever helped 100% is to sleep. Trust me, if I could just take a pill, I would. I wouldn’t wish a migraine on my worst enemy.
5. It Can Be Scary to Others
I have had my fair share of freaked out people when they saw me experiencing a migraine. As I said, I lose my ability to talk and I just start saying random words. My dad came home once and I was alone and having an attack and I couldn’t tell him what was wrong with me. He thought I was having a stroke. This past month, I had one at work and it was only me and two brand new employees. I explained myself the best I could and had to leave. The following day, one of the girls told me it really scared her. I went from speaking and acting normally to barely being able to get out a couple of sentences.
6. Migraines Limit Your Medications
When you have migraines, whether you are treating them with medication or not, it tends to limit medications you can be placed on for other ailments. Birth control is a big issue because it cuts the amount of pills you’re able to take. If you have migraines and you take certain oral contraceptives, you can increase your risk of stroke and you are also likely to have attacks more frequently. When I started taking birth control pills I went from having a migraine 2-3 times per month to having them 5-6 times per week. I was in an insane amount of pain and essentially useless and had to stay in bed. I have also run into problems with a few other health issues where I couldn’t be put on particular medications because they would either interfere with my migraine meds or they would increase my attacks.
7. There Are so Many Solutions to Try
There are tons and tons of migraine sufferers who have found the perfect medicine or lifestyle changes that take care of their episodes. If you find a treatment that works for you it is like a dream come true! There are tons of medications and home remedies that work for all sorts of migraine patients and there are new ones popping up fairly frequently. I personally haven’t found a solution that works for me the way I need it to, and I know there are others out there like me, but I am always willing to try new things that other people claim work for them. Most recently I tried sitting with my feet in a vat of hot water with an ice pack on the back of my neck. It didn’t sound like it would work when I read about it…and it didn’t, but it was worth a shot, because someday I WILL find something that works for me and I hope all of my fellow migraine sufferers will as well.
Do you suffer from migraines or have someone in your life that does? I hope you will add some of your own tips, tricks and hints to what I have already said! The more information, the better!