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Migraine Life

If you suffer from migraines you know the daily struggle dealing with them is.  Whether it’s nursing a migraine, or avoiding triggers – it consumes you.  

If you have never had a migraine in your life,  read on.  I want this article to explain what life is like when headaches turn into debilitating impairment.   


What are symptoms of a migraine? 

  • Pain in your head,  like a headache but heightened severity
  • Nausea 
  • Sensitivity to all of your senses;  hearing, seeing (light), touch, etc…
  • Stiff neck
  • Feeling of depression
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Weakness,  sometimes fainting
  • Diahhrea  

What causes a migraine? 
Everybody has their own migraine triggers.  Here are a few common triggers: 

  • Allergies
  • Loud noises
  • Bright lights
  • Stress or Anxiety
  • Lack of sleep, or too much sleep
  • Improper diet;  not eating enough, skipping meals,  eating too much junk food
  • Alcohol
  • Dehydration
  • Cigarette exposure; either smoking or second-hand smoke
  • Certain smells, specific to the person
  • Caffeine 
  • Sugar
  • Hormones; pregnancy, PMS, contraceptive pill

Those are the most common triggers I find that causes migraines.   It can be something as silly small as buying the wrong brand of air freshener (although the same scent as your usual), and you’re down in bed for the rest of the day. 

Now, if you’re not a migraine sufferer you may think “well, just take some Advil!” but that’s not the case.  You see, the amount of pain from a migraine is classified by the World Health Organization as among the most disabling illnesses, comparable to dementia, quadriplegia and active psychosis.

Here are some more migraine facts: 

  • Migraines are the 6th most disabling illness in the world.
  • More than 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function normally during their migraine.
  • Migraines are an extremely incapacitating collection of neurological symptoms.
  • Attacks usually last between 4 and 72 hours.
  • Migraine often goes undiagnosed in children.
  • About 10% of school-age children suffer from migraines.
  • Migraines affect three times as many women as men, with this higher rate being most likely hormonally-driven.
  • It is caused by the activation of a mechanism deep in the brain that leads to release of pain-producing inflammatory substances around the nerves and blood vessels of the head

Now, if you have a loved one who suffers from migraines, there are a few things you can do to support them:

  • Offer to do errands.   This one is huge, so I’m going to list a few things that you may want to offer:

    Nothing is more crappy than being in bed with a migraine but hyper-focusing on the fact your library books are due tomorrow.  
    Maybe they need something at the grocery store?
    They might appreciate someone walking their dog.  
    Do they have prescriptions that need to be picked up or more OTC medication? 

  • Pick their kids up from the school bus
  • Help with household chores
  • “Can I bring you food/make you a meal” can be a hit or miss.  Some people don’t want to eat when they have a migraine due to nausea.  Some people would love food because skipping their last meal is the reason they’re in this predicament. 
  • Ask them how they feel, and actually listen.  You may not understand what they’re going through, but show them that you’re there for them.

Another big point I want to mention to the family and friends of migraine sufferers.  Please be understanding when we have to cancel plans because the pain is just intolerable.  

How do you treat migraines?

This answer is different, depending on the person.  Some people can do with sleep, others end up in the ER getting a cocktail of medication and observation.   I can usually make do with what my doctor suggested ; a muscle relaxant and some OTC painkiller (Advil, Tylenol, Aleve).   For some odd reason, this is the only thing I find that takes more than the edge off, and I don’t fall asleep, which is good when I’m out and about; including narcotics!  Please talk to your doctor or pharmacist before trying my method.  

Other things like taking a bath, relaxing in the shade if you’re outside, or listening to soft music may help make the pain more bearable.  

Essentially, talk to your doctor and figure out what works best for you.  



Reference : Migraine Trust
Reference : Migraine Again 
Reference : Migraine Research Foundation
Reference : WHO

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  1. Debbie S. says:

    Migraines are horrid. I’ve had them since childhood. I take from the ibuprofen family and lay down. They affect my vision. I take something as soon as I feel them coming on. Auras help me get them before they (usually ) are out of control.

  2. Karen Evans says:

    I have had migraines since after the birth of my first daughter (1977). When I got married, i would have a migraine at least 3 times a month, and they were so bad, I went to bed (not easy to do when you have 2 young daughters and an stupid husband (take a Tylenol .. you will feel better, now get up and make supper or something) . After my divorce the migraines only occurred once in every 6 weeks. And now sliding towards 60 .. maybe once a year. Unfortunately I passed them down to both my daughters. My trigger was that I smelt something that wasn’t there, i.e. cotton candy , or vinegar etc. when I was nowhere near anything that could produce the aroma.

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